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The Only Way to Happiness


March 28, 2024
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I would imagine almost every professing Christian can recite at least five of the ten commandments given by God through Moses, but I wonder how many can do the same regarding the nine Beatitudes spoken directly from our Lord and Savior? The Beatitudes are how the Son of God opens His first, and arguably, the greatest sermon ever given, and is worthy of our close attention.


On the side of a hill overlooking the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sat down and taught His twelve disciples. Yes, there were many that gathered to hear His teaching, but Jesus’ main objective was to disciple His twelve Disciples, those that would be responsible for carrying His Gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus opens the sermon on the mount by describing the heart’s desires of those who have accepted the invitation to be His follower. While the infamous ten commandments are largely seen as a list of categories of what-not-to-do, the Beatitudes are a set of beliefs that embody the Christian’s heart. or as D. Lloyd-Jones puts it, “A Christian is something before he does anything.”

I Did It My Way

Recall the famous Frank Sinatra song?  “And now, the end is near; And so I face the final curtain; My friends, I’ll say it clear; I’ll state my case of which I’m certain; I’ve lived a life that’s full; I traveled each and every highway; But more, much more than this; I did it my way. Everyone’s life begins doing it their way. The sad truth is, anyone who’s never transformed to doing it God’s way, goes the way of the Pharisees. Sorry to those for whom I’ve now ruined this song forever.


The first century Pharisees were all about outward obedience to the law, most of which were man made rules. The Pharisees purposely created many rules so that they could adhere to them by their own human will (works) alone. What the Pharisees created was a religion of self-righteousness (like every other false religion). Their life of ‘good’ works were void of reverent love for the Lord, which is what Jesus held against those in positions of religious authority the most. Today, I fear the church in America, like the Pharisees, all too often emphasizes outward obedience to God’s commands through human will rather than emphasizing an internal obedience that ought to flow freely out of our love for the Lord. 


Jesus Teaches His Way

Acknowledging the need (then and now) to boldly refute the heretical religion of works, Jesus uses the Beatitudes to communicate that salvation has always been about the condition of our heart, a heart that embodies Beatitude character. What is most comforting is to know that it is not how perfectly we are able to live out the Beatitudes, but what our Lord expects is our deep desire to live them out.


The Promises of Beatitude Character

The Beatitudes are a set of expectations, each one wrapped in a set of promises. Each Beatitude starts out by promising happiness to the one whose heart reflects Beatitude character and then ends with a present day promise. 


Each Beatitude starts out with “Blessed are…”  “Blessed” from the Greek “makários” means happy or blissful, an inner joy that is the fulfillment of every longing in the human heart. It is not happiness as a result of circumstance, i.e. the world’s definition.  It is the state that describes God, “Blessed be God,” (2 Corinthians 1:3).


Isn’t happiness possibly the greatest desire of every human being?  Tragically, the world tells us to find happiness in all the wrong places; in material things, in elevating oneself to prominence (pride), and most sadly in doing life our own way satisfying our own desires first regardless of its implication to God and others. Jesus himself tells us that true lasting happiness is only found by hearts devoted to Him and filled with Beatitude character. It shouldn’t surprise us then that Beatitude character is the exact opposite of how the world says we are to find happiness. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says we will find happiness in being totally (and He means totally) dependent on God; think of this as being enslaved to God. Jesus says we will find happiness in humility and meekness, when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, oh, yes, and when we are persecuted because of our righteousness. You will never hear anything like this from the secular world, but we who are students of God’s Word know that true joy only comes from a loving relationship with the Lord (1 Peter 1:8) which is the foundation to Beatitude character.


While promising happiness alone would be blessing enough, each Beatitude includes a present day promise. These include promises of comfort, satisfaction, mercy, sonship, the ability to see God, and the greatest of all, the promise to spend eternity with Him in the kingdom of heaven. 


Step out onto the Water

How is it that for all these years I have been glossing over Jesus’ call for a Beatitude heart and all that He promises to those who embody it. I am drawn to share how each of the nine Beatitudes revealed a new understanding of God’s expectation for the sanctified heart, but for brevity I will mention just one. Until recently, I have never fully grasped the meaning behind the very first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs (alone) is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).  Although having heard multiple times that being poor in spirit refers to our desperate need for God’s grace, it wasn’t until many weeks following our study of this Beatitude that God blessed me with a visual that helped me really understand and put in perspective my total dependence on God. I would not do justice to this beatitude if we didn’t first explore the accurate meaning behind the Greek word for “poor.” There are something like seven Greek words that can be used to describe poverty but the one Jesus (before creation) carefully chose to use is ptóchos. This word describes the severest condition of poverty, one in which a person has no ability to care for themselves. This is a person that cannot even scavenge for food and water to sustain themselves, a person that is totally dependent on others for the most basic need of life. Now with that visual in mind, God blessed me with another perspective on our total dependence on God. It is the visual of Peter stepping out of the boat that he and the other disciples were in on that stormy night. Peter knew well he had no ability to walk on water, but at that moment he well understood his total dependence on Jesus. The same is true of salvation, it is all God’s doing, we have nothing to contribute. In fact our pre-salvation works are called filthy rags. While salvation is always preceded by a step into faith, God is continually calling us to step out of the boat, an act of total dependence upon Him. Only then are our works called good.  I want to thank the men in the Mighty Oaks group for the hearty discussion which flamed the fire of God’s calling for Beatitude character in my heart. 



  1. Consider reading the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) every day for a week. Then move through the Beatitudes one per week, praying that your heart will be filled with its character and your life will reflect its Christ-likeness.
  2. Meditate on this truth: We are not meant to control our Christianity; our Christianity is rather meant to control us.
  3. I encourage you to further study the Beatitudes by reading the book our Oaks Men’s Group just finished, called “The Only Way to Happiness,” by John MacArthur. There are quite a few copies around church, please ask, and we can get you one.