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Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

Who, here today, would like to see God? Jesus says you can! Matt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

What would you say “pure in heart” means? Many of us would probably say the pure in heart are free from sin, but it must also mean something more, because throughout the beatitudes, sin is dealt with right from the start. Notice the progression of the beatitudes and how sin is dealt with.

1. The poor in spirit die to self through brokenness, humility, and dependence upon God. The sin of selfish pride is torn down as we acknowledge our need for God.

2. Those who mourn align their hearts with God and grieve over sin. Personal sin, the sin of other believers, and the sin within society breaks our heart; we want nothing to do with sin.

3. The meek surrender their strength to God. The bit and bridle of the Holy Spirit keeps us from saying the wrong thing or turning to look the wrong direction. We choose to submit to the Holy Spirit and live for Christ instead of our sinful desires.

4. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness have been declared righteous by God, and the power of the Holy Spirit is at work within our life equipping and empowering us to live in victory over sin, as we hunger and thirst for more of Christ, who is our righteousness.

5. The merciful realize how much mercy has been given to them; therefore, they are merciful and forgiving to others. They demonstrate the unconditional love of God. Love has become our motive for everything we do. Love for God keeps us from returning to a life of sin.

Consequently, being “pure in heart” must mean more than just being clean or unstained by sin. Does pure mean perfect? If so, we are in trouble. Who among us has a perfect heart? “Pure” is translated from the Greek word “katharos.” “Katharos” literally means “free from dirt, unsoiled, and pure” such as pure water or pure gold. “Katharos” also means “GENUINE, as opposed to false.” Therefore, the pure in heart are genuine, authentic, and real. They are not a counterfeit or a hypocrite. The pure in heart have no impurity, mixture, or division within their hearts.

Ps. 24:3-4 Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

So then, the “pure in heart” are those who are completely dedicated to Jesus and living for Him. This purity is a work of God in the heart of believers in Jesus Christ, who are continually repenting, trained, and changed by the Holy Spirit. Their prayer becomes:

Psalms 86:11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; GIVE ME AN UNDIVIDED HEART, that I may fear your name.

Jesus reserved his harshest words for those who knew how to mask their true heart. The stereotype Pharisee was nothing more than a religious pretender – someone who outwardly portrayed faith but inwardly was far from God. Unfortunately, there are more Pharisees today than there were in Jesus’ day. Here is some of what Jesus says to those who are like Pharisees.

Matt 23:25-28 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you’re full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

The Pharisees thought their religious acts made them pure, but they were wrong. And if we think that our religious acts make us pure, then we’re wrong, too. Jesus saw through their pretense, and looked right into their hearts. He said this in Matt. 15:8, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

I like what Abraham Lincoln said when he was accused of hypocrisy, “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

When God looks at us, He pays little or no attention at all to our outward appearance. I’m sorry about that, because I know a lot of us work hard on what we look like. God doesn’t care what’s on the outside of us because He’s looking to see what’s on the inside of us, what’s going on in our heart.

1 Sam. 16:7 The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

The heart is the totality of the inner person…the seat of character…the soul, where all emotions, convictions, and wisdom converge. The heart of our problems is the problem of our heart!

Jer. 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.

The problem of sin isn’t the world around us, but rather the world within us. Make whatever excuses you wish to protect your pet sins and the self-centeredness that’s consumed with what you want and think you deserve, not one of them will stand up in the face of God’s holiness!

We don’t sin because of our environment or upbringing; we sin because of what’s in our heart! That’s why God is so concerned with the purity of our hearts.

The Bible clearly explains that a little bit of sin taints the whole life. So the question at hand is how can I possess a life free of hypocrisy? How do I walk by the Holy Spirit and not my flesh?

Heb. 12:1-3 Since we’re surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every thing that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race marked out for us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Realize your sin and its cost, confess it, fight the temptation, and put it behind you. In other words, REMOVE the obstacles and excuses, and follow Jesus. Stay focused on Him!

Galatians 5:16-17 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

A couple from Bakersfield, CA purchased a new boat, but they were having serious problems. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t get the boat going. It was sluggish no matter which way they turned or how much power was applied. After an hour of trying to make it go, they stopped at a nearby marina, hoping someone could tell them what was wrong. A thorough check on the topside of the boat revealed everything was in perfect working condition. The engine ran fine, the out drive went up and down, and the propeller was the correct size and pitch. Then, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath. He came up choking with laughter. Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer!

You say, “That’s ridiculous!” However, it is not any more ridiculous than many believers who are wondering why their Christian life isn’t working. It’s simple, they have sin attached beneath the surface of their lives that needs to be removed.

1 Cor. 9:24 Don’t you realize that everyone who runs in a race runs to win, but only one runner gets the prize? Run like them, so that you can win.

Runners remove everything that doesn’t help them win the race and they concentrate on the goal. Likewise, remove every sin that keeps you from being pure. CONCENTRATE on knowing and obeying God’s Word and becoming just like Jesus. Jesus is our hope and example. He models how we are to live. Don’t take your mind off of the goal.

Col 3:1 Set your mind on things above and not on the things of earth.

Those who possess purity within their hearts will see God – meaning they will continuously see God’s presence in their lives. In other words, the pure in heart will experience intimate fellowship with God on a moment-by-moment basis.

What does it take to become genuine, to have an undivided heart? How can we be pure in heart?

Step 1: Understand God knows our heart. The real condition of our heart cannot be hidden from God.

Psalm 44:21 would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?

Our life is an open book to God; nothing is out of His sight. God not only sees what we do, but He knows our motive, the reason why we do and say things. As long as we think we can hide something from God, our heart will remain impure. The divided heart not only tries to deceive others, but even more so, an unclean heart deceives self. An impure heart is blind to its own hypocrisy and double-mindedness. Ask God to show you what He sees in your heart.

Step 2: Repent and receive by faith the cleansing only God can bring to your heart. David realized how impure his heart was when he thought back to his mistakes and sexual sins. After confessing to God, he prayed in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

God will purify our heart the moment we ask. We receive God’s cleansing by faith in Jesus Christ and the promises of His Word.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

God will not turn us away, nor ignore us. Sin separates us from God and He wants to restore a relationship with us! Jesus died and allowed His blood to be poured out so our heart can be made pure. This is not a one-time cleansing. Just like our body needs cleansing daily, our hearts need daily cleansing because of our sinful nature and the sin that is in the world. That’s why we need to stay close to Jesus and have an intimate relationship with Him. That is why we need to read the Bible daily—so we can be washed by the water of the Word.

Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.

Step 3: Accept trials and hardship as God’s cleansing fire. Let God turn up the heat to expose the impurities and cleanse our heart. Fire is used to burn away the impurities within precious metals. Gold or silver is only pure after the fire has been applied to the ore. The fire separates the precious from the impurities. God will purify our heart just as the goldsmith or silversmith purifies precious metals.

Prov. 17:3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

God accepts us just the way we are, with all of our filth and imperfections, but He loves us too much to leave us like that. God wants us to be pure, just like Jesus. Therefore, He purifies our hearts in the fiery furnace of trials.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

What difficulty or hardship are you going through right now? You may want to run from the fire, but God will follow you wherever you go. He will not leave the work He started unfinished, but will bring it to completion. God wants to make you to be just like Jesus. Therefore, thank Him and praise Him in the midst of the trial. God disciplines His children whom He loves. He loves you.

Heb 12:4-11 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Step 4: Cooperate with God in the work He is doing to purify your heart. Take the necessary action so you live a holy life just like Jesus. There are some things in life we need to run away from and some things we need to pursue.

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

As we run away from sin and our evil desires, RUN TO GOD. Pursue God with all your heart. Others will not understand why we don’t indulge in the same things they do. They may ridicule us, but don’t be ashamed to be known as a Christian, a lifetime follower of Christ.

Step 5: Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t lose sight of the goal: the pure in heart will see God!

1 John 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

With a goal in site, we are willing to endure just about anything. A college student will endure the all-nighters to study for an exam and rise for early morning classes because of the goal to obtain a degree and work in a certain career. Likewise, do whatever it takes to see Jesus. Psalm 119:9 says, How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.  

Each believer is personally responsible for maintaining the purity of their heart.

2 Corinthians 7:1let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”  

The pure in heart will see God. So how do we see God? There are many ways.

We see God in His Creation. Psalm 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork." However, this truth is enhanced for those who are born again of the Holy Spirit. Looking through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, everything in the world looks brighter, lovelier, more wonderful, and glorious.

We see God in our circumstances. As we look at the history of our world, we see God at work. We also see God at work in our daily lives. As we look backwards and have the benefit of hindsight, we see that life is not a series of accidents. For the child of God, it is a series of divine appointments.

We see God in His Word. Perhaps one of the first things you noticed after you were saved was how much better you understood the Bible. 1 Corinthians 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

We see God in the present. The eyes see what the heart loves. If the heart loves God and is single in this devotion; then we will see God in everything whether others see Him or not. This experience of seeing God through the eyes of the Holy Spirit is not a momentary thing; it is constant and growing.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Ultimately, we will see God in His fullness. All that I have mentioned concerning seeing God is nothing in comparison to that which is to come. The ultimate of seeing God, for the believer, will be when our faith becomes sight.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

When we get all the divided loyalties out of our lives, we begin to see God more clearly. When we get our hearts fixed on Jesus, it will resolve many decisions among our conflicting interests. When the believer fixes their heart on Jesus, many decisions will automatically be made. We no longer have to make a decision about whether we are going to church on Sunday morning, or what we will do when we are placed in a compromising position. When we make Jesus the primary focus of our hearts, those decisions are easily made, because Jesus gives us a pure heart.   

Won’t you give your heart to Jesus today? Confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Repent of your sin, and give Him your life in baptism so Jesus can give you a new life, born of the Holy Spirit. Then you will have a pure heart and the Holy Spirit will continue to keep your heart pure through discipline, conviction, repentance, and renewal until Jesus returns to take us home.