Blessed are the Pure In Heart (part 8)
The Sermon on the Mount (part 8)
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”
“let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
“Blessed are the Pure in Heart for They Shall See God”
With a cursory reading, this beatitude seems very simple and straightforward. However, both “pure in heart” and “see God”, offer some difficulty in definition and application.
Too often, when we think of "pure in heart", it carries with it the idea of being cloistered in a monastery with very little contact with the outside world. That way we can devote our nights and days to prayer and submission to God with fewer distractions or temptations. Though we could respect those who would require such sacrifice of themselves, we can also see how such seclusion could be nothing more than a legalistic attempt to garner God’s favor. But, such a life can neither attain, nor truly live out, the essence of what Jesus was saying in His mountain discourse.
There was a group in Jesus’ day that, though not cloistered, still held themselves, at least on a superficial level, to a higher standard. They were called Pharisees. But hear what Jesus has to say to them in Matthew 23:25-26; "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
In this last verse, Jesus strikes at the very meaning of this beatitude. For He does not speak of accomplishing a perfect life lived from the outside in, but a life that starts from a pure heart and works itself out. At that point everything changes,—motivation, intention, ultimate impact; it all changes. Jesus did not come to this earth in flesh just so we could live “perfect” lives. But He did come to “seek and save that which was lost.” His ministry and mission have become ours, so we must fulfill them with pureness of heart while rubbing elbows with a tainted world. This is a daunting prospect, for hearts are desperately and naturally wicked.
Listen to God's words in Genesis 8:21; "for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth.”
But hear what God promised for His children in
Ezekiel 36:26-27; “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
Our reaction to God comes from the heart;
Romans 10:10, “with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
So when Jesus says ”pure in heart”, He is speaking to the most elemental, essential parts of our life; the middle, if you will. It speaks to that part where emotions and feelings are kept and which eventually will determine our outward response. So, can you see, then, how vital it is that the heart is pure, so that our lives are lived out in a measured, obedient way, led of the Holy Spirit. The word pure in this verse simply means clean. A pure heart is nothing more, or less, than a heart that has been cleaned. Well, you say, I am really striving to clean up my act. Therein lies the problem. We are working so hard to clean up our act, that we fail to realize that God's grace through His word, by the work of the Holy Spirit, has already accomplished that. It is now up to us to live it out in our daily lives as the Spirit guides us and empowers us.
John 15:3 “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
If you are already a born again believer, then, with great confidence in the grace of God and great passion for the desire of God, live out what already exists. You ARE redeemed, live it. You ARE holy, live it. You ARE clean, live it. We work so hard at being so much less than what God intends for us to be.
"They shall see God.”
This Beatitude contains perhaps the most powerful reward of all the Beatitudes. Who wouldn't want to ”see God.” Many have requested, none have seen Him.
Since I have gone a little long on this post, and because of the complexity of the phrase, ”see God”, I am going to send out a full post dedicated to that subject. It will follow in a few days.