First Things First
Matthew 23:25-28 (KJV) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
This scripture emphasizes the importance of priorities. When it comes to the subject of character, Jesus taught us that this is priority #1. His work is to change us from the inside out. Many mistakenly think that because they go to church, read the Bible or are involved in some capacity that this is the qualification for being a Christian. The truth is that being a Christian does not first center around what you do for God but rather what you are in God. With this in mind, Jesus established a first things first priority. Inner Christian character is what makes us what we are.
Matthew 12:33-35 (KJV) Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.  O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
Matthew 7:17-19 (KJV) Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Our Lord taught in such simple terms that it is very hard to miss the real point. A tree that produces good fruit is a good tree. How profound! A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. The inner qualities of the tree will determine the outward fruit that is seen. Likewise, our inner attitudes and character will be the factor in the fruits of ones’ life. The revealer of this inner heart condition is the mouth and the body. What is said and done reveals the real you. Is it any wonder that God chose speaking in other tongues on the first day of the church as the initial sign of this inner change?
Acts 2:1-4 (KJV) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
God came into the believers and this inner change was manifested in their mouths. This change still happens the same way today.
Attitudes That Should Be
Matthew 5:3-12 (KJV) Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
This discourse given to us by our Lord is known as the “Sermon on the Mount”. The qualities he spoke of in this sermon are referred to as the Beatitudes. Some have said that these are attitudes that should be. They have come to be known as the nine attitudes of a true Christian and follower of Jesus Christ. They are the inner Christian qualities that are manifested by our outward actions. We will go through each one briefly for the sake of space. You may want to add some things yourself to get a deeper understanding.
Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
This attitude understands that everything comes from God. In our world of self-achievers and self made people it is hard to find this attitude.
1 Cor. 4:7 (KJV) For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
The Word teaches us that everything we have has come from God. Our abilities, physical appearance, mental capacity, and possessions are things that we ultimately have no choice about. It is easy to say, “I have worked hard for what I have.” Although this may be true to a degree, the unanswered question is, “Who gave you the good health to go and make money?” “Who chose that you would be born in a country where you have unlimited opportunities?” The answer is that God gave us these things. This should be a humbling revelation. This understanding will gives us a “poor in spirit” attitude. God hates haughtiness and pride because it fails to acknowledge him as the source of all good things.
Blessed Are They That Mourn
The Greek word for mourn is: (pen-the-o) [to grieve]. This is an inner attitude that hates injustice and evil. Certainly we are living in an evil day. As it was in the days of Noah, violence and iniquity has filled our world. When our character is good however, there will be a natural dislike and despising of things that are not pleasing to God. Lot in the Old Testament is a good example of this.
2 Peter 2:8 (KJV) (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)
Lot was vexed day by day because of the ungodly deeds of Sodom and Gomorrah. His inner character of righteousness did not have room to tolerate the evil that surrounded him.
Blessed Are The Meek
The Greek word for meek is: (pray-ooce’) [mild or humble]. This attitude was the trademark of Jesus Christ. Far from being weak and silent, this is an attitude that expresses great fortitude and courage. Jesus was humble and mild with the sinner. Yet, when dealing with the religious hypocrites he drove them out of the temple with a whip. This attitude needs to prevail in the lives of true believers. God loves true humility and submission but hates a proud look.
1 Peter 5:5 (KJV) Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Proverbs 6:16-17 (KJV) These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
Blessed Are They Which Hunger And Thirst For Righteousness
This is an attitude that hungers for the things of God. A person with good inner qualities will always seek to do what is right. Righteousness is the attribute of being and living right in the eyes of God and man. There is however a constant battle going on inside. The flesh of man seeks to go its own way. The self-will attitude always opposes the way of truth. Yet, when the Spirit of God dwells inside there is a power to overcome this enemy. The true Christian is one who believes that Gods’ way is always the right way. In our day of modern philosophies and humanistic teachings it is truly a comfort to know that the word of God is still the right way for us to live. David in the Old Testament understood this.
Psalm 19:8 (KJV) The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psalm 119:128 (KJV) Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
Blessed Are The Merciful
Psalm 103:17 (KJV) But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
God is a merciful God. His mercy stretches from everlasting to everlasting. In our sins and iniquities there was a sure penalty of death hanging over each of us. Yet even in our sins he went to Calvary to forgive us. This shows us his ability to have mercy. If he truly lives within, there will be a Godly trait of mercy that is manifested.
Matthew 18:23-35 (KJV) Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.  But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.  But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.  And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.  Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
This parable helps us to understand Gods’ desire for you and I to be like him. If we forgive then we will be forgiven. If we forgive, not then he will not forgive us.
1 John 4:20 (KJV) If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
In order to be right with God we must treat others the right way.
Blessed Are The Pure In Heart
Psalm 19:12-13 (KJV) Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.  Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
This scripture exposes the heart of David. He was a man whose heart was after Gods’ heart. He was not perfect and failed God more than once. Yet, in his imperfection he desired deep in his heart to be right with God. He wanted to be close to God and not feel ashamed of his evil heart.
Genesis 2:25 (KJV) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
This is the account of Adam and Eve before they sinned in the garden. They were naked before each other and before God. When God spoke with them they were totally exposed. Inside and outside they were not ashamed. Their hearts were pure before God. Only through the indwelling Spirit of God can we hope to go back to the place that Adam and Eve had in the garden. Our hearts have many chambers and secret places that no one knows of but God. In our heart there are things that do not please God. Through the word of God we can realize how offensive it is to God. Then, because of a good inner quality we will seek to change and do what is right.
Blessed Are The Peacemakers
The Greek word for peacemaker is: (I-ray-nop-oy-os) [peaceable].
Ephes. 6:12 (KJV) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
When reading this scripture we can clearly see that there is a war going on. The enemy is trying to destroy what God is building up. To be a peacemaker we must understand where offences come from and how to deal with them. Jesus came to bring peace by his death on the cross. We can be peacemakers and at the same time be free from offences by loving God and his ways. Nothing can stop someone with Godly qualities. In the last days many will be offended but the true children of God will avoid this by being peacemakers.
Blessed Are They Which Are Persecuted
No Christian is greater than Christ. If they hated him they will also hate all of those who live for him. Yet, on the other hand if they have heard him they will also hear us.
Matthew 5:11 (KJV) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
John 13:15-17 (KJV) For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
John 15:18-20 (KJV) If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
The early church viewed persecution not as a plague but as a privilege. The Apostle Peter wrote that we were even called to persecution. So then, persecution will be a part of living for the Lord.
1 Peter 2:19-23 (KJV) For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
What a Godly attitude! Today however, many want the Christ of the cross and not the cross of the Christ. Let that settle in for a moment. It is possible to become an enemy of the cross by seeking ways to avoid persecution.
Philip. 3:18 (KJV) (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Persecution cleanses the spirit of man and helps him fall in love with the cross. It was the persecution, cross, and suffering that brought us our salvation. A truly godly person will rejoice when persecution comes.
Jesus taught us the need for inner character. Our lives will be greatly blessed when we allow him to put these into our hearts. We can’t do it on our own for the heart of man is not right with God. Through his salvation we can have the power to be sons of God.
Thanks so much for going through this study with me. I am honored that you have taken the time to study. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you. Your comments on the study would be a great encouragement. Just click here and leave them with me. May God bless you richly is my prayer.
Focus on Freedom
Jesus’ mission was to redeem man from his destructive ways and because these ways are deep seated in the inner man, he came to deal first with the heart. His changing power starts on the inside and then is manifested on the outside. In this study we will deal with the inner work that God desires to do in us to change us for the better from the inside out.