To be poor in the Spirit-here lies the misery and distress of faith. Indeed it is misery to be convicted of, that you are a poor, helpless one, who never can attain to be a real good Christian.
It goes to pieces for you so often. You desire to be good, God-fearing and obedient. But there is always so much sin within you, so much of your own self that tends to get mixed in and cause harm and stand in the way to hinder the fullness of the Spirit and the work of grace in your heart. It goes so lamentably slow with the sanctification.
Such things will just wind themselves around you very painfully, condemning the heart-just about enough to stun you completely.
If you only were sure, that you are one of those who really are poor in the Spirit. Then the Kingdom of Heaven would be yours. But you are not even certain about this. No, indeed, for if you were really poor in the Spirit, then you could at least weep over yourself, but you cannot even make yourself do that. It is hard to know your sins and still have fearless eyes. For no one is more poor in the Spirit than he who knows himself to be spiritually poverty-stricken, and yet not have as much as tears to weep out his own poverty.
But you don't and real uprightness in your heart. No matter how you turn yourself, you only find that which is impossible in our inner life. You feel stung and wounded in your heart with a quiet, but deep sense of misery. You are even afraid it is the misery of unbelief.
But in this you are mistaken.
This is not the misery and distress of unbelief; it is the misery and grievings of faith.
For the Holy Spirit is now trying to show you your own helpless and lost condition, that you may feel a real need of Him who died for such. And when you follow the Spirit's wooing and promptings and go to Jesus and tell Him all, and just how you are, then it is exactly what it means to be upright before God. By nature you do have a false and hypocritical heart, but tell it all to Jesus, acknowledge it before Him-this is to be honest and upright in your spirit.
And then you do believe. For to come to Jesus--that is the same as to believe in Him.
Even if this should be the weak, trembling faith.
Our old Pontoppidan Explanation hits the nail on the head when in question 500 it asks and answers as follows:
"Is the true faith always and in all equally strong?
"No, when true faith is tried and attacked by unbelief, then it is at times very weak like a quaking and trembling hand, which hardly dares to lay hold on the grace of God, or to step out on it, but it is stretched out after it in a sincere longing and desire."
Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief. Mark 9:24
Attached and afflicted, faltering and trembling--yet a heart-felt longing after the grace of God, so that you go to Him and mourn over your distress and trouble and let your poor soul just hang unto His promises. Then you stretch your weak hand of faith up to the Lord. It certainly is not unbelief that does this, but the faith of the poor in spirit.
Faith may be attacked by the enemies, but:
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict many a doubt,
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
The poor in spirit is led to the Word for light and guidance in the matter of his soul's salvation.
He is not content with anything less than God's own promise in the written Word.
But there in the Word you will make the happy discovery that-
Your sonship and your letter of liberty have been written in the Word by God's own finger.
And out of the Word of Truth the Holy Spirit also bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God and a member of the family of heaven. The testimony and the comfort of the Holy Spirit is always built upon God's own Word.
Through the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the Word, even the poor in spirit have received a new song in his mouth, a song of praise to his God.
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