“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”~Matthew 5:8
Before becoming a Christian I would have told you that my heart and its motives were pure when I thought and did “good” things for others. If we are to be truthful with ourselves, our actions as unbelievers are self-focused in their underlying motives. Until we come to truly know God, there is no way we can please Him in any of what we would call our “good” deeds. As a non-believer, all our deeds are done to glorify ourselves and not to glorify our Maker.
The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
We will fail often, but if we truly belong to God, our deepest desire would be for holiness, for a heart that is pure and seeks to please Him in all things.
One of my favorite parts of the Bible has been the Sermon on the Mount, specifically the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter five. In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 6:12-16 ) we see Jesus had been with the Father in prayer the night before He gave the greatest sermon ever preached. Jesus had just chosen the twelve apostles and sat down on the mountain side to address the multitude that had gathered. The crowds were drawn to Jesus because He truly loved them. He met not only their physical needs, but the needs of their heart.
The Sermon on the Mount
Our world’s way of thinking would look at the characteristics Jesus taught here and see these as a description of losers. The world would say, promote yourself, stand up for your rights; you should get what you deserve. Here we have Jesus teaching us God’s ways which tell us to be humble, to be concerned over our sin, to be meek, to long for righteousness, to show mercy, to be pure in heart, to be peacemakers and be willing to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness.
The standard laid before us here is not based on external circumstances. It is a life that truly brings joy and contentment because it is based on an inward change. Only someone with a heart that has been awakened to the magnificent goodness of a perfect and holy God can read the Beatitudes listed above and understand how laying down our life for others can bring joy into our lives.
The Beatitudes are progressive – each one leading on to the next one. Being pure in heart is looked upon as the key beatitude. It is the jewel of them all. When I realize I am poor in spirit and that I am in spiritual bankruptcy; I will then mourn over the condition of my spirit. This will cause me to be meek or gentle as I realize the desolate spiritual condition I am in. Then I will have a hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Here is the climax – I am then granted mercy and can become pure in heart, and it is only by the righteousness of Christ.
How Do We Become Pure in Heart……In God’s Eyes?
When we see the word “purity”, the image of clean comes to mind. How can a heart and mind that has been filled with the ugliness of this world truly be clean in the sight of a perfect and holy God? We like to compare ourselves with others because we can always look better than somebody else on the outside.
God looks at the inside –at our hearts – and the standard of comparison is God Himself.
The word heart in Matthew 5:8 is referring to the inner man. It is where our thinking and feeling come from. The problem starts with the inside – we must have a total change on the inside. When we realize the sinfulness of our hearts (Romans 3:23) – sin is anything we think, say and do that is not pleasing to God – this is when God can truly begin to do a work in our hearts.
We must first realize we have offended a perfect and holy God, and because of our sinfulness we will spend an eternity in hell separated from Him. In recognizing our sinfulness and mourning over it, we turn to God in repentance and faith and put all our trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
We must acknowledge that Jesus is Who He says He is – God in the flesh, born of a virgin, lived a perfect, sinless life, He died for our sins on the cross, rose from the grave and is alive again in Heaven today preparing a place for those who come to believe in Him.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.~Ezekiel 36:25-26
…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.~Romans 10:9-10
And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,Romans 4:5
God does not just leave me where He found me but continues to sanctify me. He sets me apart to accomplish His purposes through me.
God calls us in His Word to be holy. He commands our participation in being pure while here on this earth.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written,“You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
~1 Peter 1:14-16
Before I go any further I want to make it clear that we are unable to live pure and holy lives without the power of the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s guidance.
What Does a Pure Heart Look Like?
Being pure in heart means that my life would show a true effort to pursue holiness – it will not be sinless perfection but a life that desires to please the Lord in all things.
“to be pure in heart is to take no delight in cunning, but converse sincerely with men, and express nothing, by word or look, which is not felt in the heart.” ~John Calvin
My love for God must be with my whole heart (Matthew 22:37). There will be no deceit. What people see on the outside will come about because of what is truly going on in the inside. There should be no false living or fooling people about the true condition of my heart.
Purity of heart will be a heart that is single minded – my total allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone. We must be diligent in guarding our hearts – the world is always vying for our allegiance and we are to be loyal only to one – Jesus Christ.
What are the Signs of an Impure Heart?
To sum it up in one word – SIN (Ephesians 4:17-32). Selfishness, lying, self-centeredness, evil thoughts, corrupt talk, love of the world, anger, bitterness, gossip, disunity, and hatred to name just a few – “out of the heart come evil thoughts” (Matthew 15:19).
Here are some steps we need to take to guard our hearts:
God’s Word must be on my heart. I must be spending time in His Word, reading, memorizing and reciting it throughout my day. I cannot know God’s will apart from His Word.
Walking by the Spirit is essential. I love when people tell you this because you are thinking, “Okay what does that mean and what does it look like?” This is an area in my spiritual walk I am always going to be growing in. This can only come about by knowing God’s Word – I take time to write down and memorize verses in areas of my life where I am weak. When I have those moments of weakness, I must meditate on God’s promises and rest fully in them. You may find me at times singing hymns to myself that draw me back to the truths of God’s Word.
Praying at all times is a necessity. I must be totally dependent on Him and to do that I need to stay near to Him. Pray throughout your day. Set aside time each day to just be with the Lord in pryaer. During the course of your day pray without ceasing. Pray for purity of heart.
Spend time with those whose walk of life is pure. We are influenced by those around us for either good or evil. Find mentors that will encourage you in your walk with the Lord and walk with the wise. (Proverbs 13:20)
…..they shall see God
What a beautiful promise at the end of Matthew 5:8. At the moment of salvation, we begin to live in the presence of God. I see Him as I never have or possibly could have before. When my heart is cleansed of all impurity – the glory of God becomes visible. His grace is before me everyday.
Today we can see God in part but in the age to come we will see Him fully. May we all await that magnificent day when we will see Him face to face in glory!
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; let the water and the blood, from thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.
~Rock of Ages, Cleft for me – Augustus M. Toplady
The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges