God offers us salvation as a gift, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, the full payment for sin’s penalty. Before we can receive this gift, we must understand that we cannot make ourselves worthy of it. Salvation is by grace through faith, not of works (Eph 2:8-9). We must recognize our sinfulness before we can understand our need for a Savior. We must admit our spiritual poverty before we can receive the spiritual riches God offers (Eph 1:3). We must, in short, be “poor in spirit” (Matt 5:3).
The Lord is clear that He doesn’t need anything from us, nor can we do any works that will make us righteous. “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,’ Says the Lord.‘” (Is 66:1-2a)
He is saying that we aren’t worshiping Him by building a beautiful church building, and watering down His saving gospel so that sinful people are more comfortable with the message while steadily walking on the wide road to hell. But He does say what He considers true and proper worship of Him: “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My Word.” (Is 66:2b)
What He is describing are people who read His Word, take it to heart and realize that because of our sin, we are completely destitute spiritually and can do nothing to deliver ourselves from our dire situation. We need the ransom that Jesus paid for all who will believe on Him as the Son of God and the only way we can come to the Father. We hold up His Word as mirror and look upon our spiritual poverty, mourn over our sin, and apply His Word to our lives, trembling because He is the Holy Lord of Hosts, and we are sinful creatures not worthy of being in His presence (Is 6).
But when we do recognize our true spiritual condition without His saving grace who paid the ransom for our sin, and understand our need of the Savior, He promises to revive our hearts. “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Is 57:15)
Jesus reiterated this at the beginning of what is known as the Sermon on the Mount when He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3) Before we can become a child of God, we must first come to terms with how sinful we truly are. Knowing our true condition will lead us to mourn over our sin; to become contrite, which is feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for our sin.
And when we understand how truly poor in spirit we are, He promises that we shall spend eternity in heaven upon our acceptance of Jesus as our Savior. To put aside our pridefulness and become poor in spirit with a contrite heart leads us to the kingdom of heaven. Praise Jesus!