Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. (1 John 5:10)
Each citizen of the kingdom of heaven lives on the eternal foundation of the person of Jesus Christ. Not only created by God in His image but recreated by God in the likeness of Christ, the citizen lives the truth of eternity. Perhaps the most critical aspect of being poor in spirit is the devotion to truth and the hatred of any lie. You will see the evidence of a person’s life by how they handle the evidence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Anyone who says or acts like they do not need God are as far away from being poor in spirit as possible. They are self-righteous in spirit and are not being honest with themselves or the world.
One of the characteristics of someone who is poor in spirit is the brutal, intellectual honesty they have toward themselves and those around. This honesty begins with the intellectual knowledge of the reality of sin and the discovery of God’s absolute authority over creation. Ultimately, God will not allow any to ignore Him. He will allow those rebelling against Him to continue in their rebellion. He will confront them with their need of Him throughout their life. But, when a person begins to lie to themselves and refuses to recognize the lie, their minds become set and impenetrable. God can do anything but will not do everything. He will not reach into a person’s mind and change it for them. Man, made in the image of God and, even with a corrupted image, has the ability to think reasonably through his experiences and know the God who is tugging at him.
Poverty of spirit is a combination of recognizing sin, recognizing God, and recognizing the truth of rebellion against God. All are intellectual activities.
Look for a moment at how corrupted intelligence works. Everything touched by sin will turn the truth around, on its head, backward, reversed, in-side-out. Those who do not want to say there is a God or sin will not believe in God even if someone is raised from the dead (see Luke 16:31, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus). Others, who want to believe something, change the truth to fit their own imaginations bringing a counterfeit peace where there is no true peace with God.
Peace manufactured from a lie is easily shaken, stolen and destroyed. Trust built on a lie and not on the Object who created everything offers only empty promises of peace. “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:13; see also Jer. 8:11). Jeremiah spoke to an obstinate people told falsely they were not sinning, the invaders were not coming as a judgment from God because of their idolatry, that they need not worry or show concern for their place, things and future. Ezekial is even more blunt about those who accept the lie as truth.
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD. Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace.’” (Ezek. 13:8-10)
Still others want to believe but are tugged and pulled away, finding reasoned excuses to change their thinking, because their thinking is more immediately attractive than the alternative. All want to control through imagination, all want to believe the lie because it is easier to control than truth. Even the lie has a kernel of truth, just as mythology has a kernel of true history. You will begin to understand Jesus’ parable of the soils in Matthew 13 when you see how those around you, even yourself, falsely think of the truth. If someone thinks they know the truth, but do not, then it is impossible to show them the truth without first destroying their imagined reality.
Jesus’ main point at this stage is to not dwell upon the consequences of sin but its reality. It is not to beat one’s self up over sin but to just admit sin exists. “Addicts” cannot be “cured” until they first honestly recognize the problem triggering their “addiction.” This problem is not that something controls them but that they control it to the point of being unwilling to give up the substance. They want to use the substance and have lied to themselves about the substance controlling them. Few are forced to abuse substances. They consciously decide to smoke, drink, abuse drugs and people and things until their “habit” is so ingrained they have to want to stop more than they wanted to start.
We are bent by sin and judged for sins. When Adam fell, rebelling against God, sin corrupted the nature given by God for all who would follow. We have a sin nature, a bent away from God toward self. We also sin and are held responsible for sin by God. Both the sin nature and the actual sins of the thinking of our hearts make intimacy with God impossible. He acts to reconnect intimately with everyone through the sacrifice of His Son. Those who are poor in spirit recognize the sin nature in themselves and the fact they sin and are responsible for the thinking of their hearts which inspire their sin. Recognizing sin and the absolute inability to change is the first step to being recreated by God and fit for eternity. We must believe God is true and speaks the truth always and in all circumstances and experiences.