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Home arrow Articles arrow Blessed are the Pure in Heart
Blessed are the Pure in Heart

ImageTurn with me to the gospel according to Matthew chapter 5, reading from verse 1.

“And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him and opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the gentle for they shall inherit the earth, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

 Turn with me to the gospel according to Matthew chapter 5, reading from verse 1.

“And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him and opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the gentle for they shall inherit the earth, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

Father, would you speak to us this morning, in words that penetrate our different mindsets, our distractions, thoughts that are contrary - would You use, Lord, everything that You have within our hearts, Master to draw us to Your Word? Touch us with Your Holy Spirit that we may glean truth from it.  Lord Jesus, it’s in Your Name that we pray, amen.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”  In many ways this particular beatitude is one of the more difficult beatitudes that we’ve looked at.  And I know that even as we have gone through these beatitudes God has been doing a work in each one of us as is very evident from the kind of response that you have given at the end, when God has come and invited us to be a part of a change in our lives.  But when we come to this beatitude, “blessed are the pure in heart” we need to stop and really read that again, “blessed are the pure in heart.” If we are honest with ourselves we will acknowledge that if we were to look into our hearts we would see things that are not pure, that within our hearts there lie impurities that have no business being there.  Purity of heart is so difficult, the word pure itself is an absolute word.  And when I read this and began to engage with it, my heart sank, because I could see through the light of this verse through the grid of this beatitude, the impurities that were in my heart and how the blessedness of a pure heart was in so many ways eluding me. 

The Bible tells us that from the heart emanate a lot of things, and I want us to look this morning at some of those things and get an understanding, a picture, of what God is trying to say to us, what Jesus meant when He said blessed, happy, peaceful are you who are pure in heart for you shall see God…for you shall see God.  Jeremiah 17:5 says this, “Thus says the Lord, cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”  In other words, a heart that turns away from the Lord is a heart that trusts humanity, whose trust is in the flesh.  “For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant,” verse 7: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Verse 9: "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick - blessed are the pure in heart.

And yet God’s Word itself to us is the heart is deceitful.  Flip back a couple of pages, quite a few pages actually, to Genesis 6:5, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” only evil continually…continually.  That’s not a pretty picture, isn’t it, of our hearts? God Himself says our hearts are evil, and that evil will continue to come out of us.  And which begs the question, “Lord, if that is the state of our hearts, if that is where we are then what hope is there?”  And it seems that the psalmist echoes those very words in Psalm 24:3 - “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?” And the answer comes… ”he who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Thy face--even Jacob.”

Who may ascend Lord, who may ascend in His holy place and the answer, he who has clean hands and a pure heart… and then these words at the end -- This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Thy face.  Is there hope?  We ask in the midst of these kinds of almost damning, condemning words from Scripture: out of the heart proceed all kinds of sin.  All kinds of sin…what do we do, if we look at all this – the weight of Scripture and then we look at this beatitude that says “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”? 

I love the way the Greek puts this.  Every now and then I would encourage you, you don’t need to know Greek, just go google Greek interlinear and it will pull up an interlinear Bible and it will show you the English on top and the Greek underneath and how it fits exactly with the way it was written in the original and oftentimes it will draw you away from a very familiar place of being able to just look at a passage and pass it by.  This is what the Greek says, “happy the clean to the heart that they the God shall be viewing.”  Happy the clean to the heart that they thy God shall be viewing, I like that – that they the God shall be viewing.  That’s what I want to do.  I want to stand one day before God and see Him face to face.  And Jesus says that particular gift is for the pure in heart. 

What are you thinking right now beloved?  I worked my way through this Scripture over and over and over again, and the more I looked at it the more evidences I had within me that the Spirit of God was saying, “That doesn’t have any right being there. That’s an impurity.  That has nothing to do with purity of heart.”  Is there any kind of hope that we can bring into this particular equation?  Years back the prophet Ezekiel prophesied, Ezekiel 11:19: "’And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new Spirit within them and I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them, then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. But as for those whose hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I shall bring their conduct down on their heads,’ declares the Lord God.”  God says He will give a new heart, a new spirit within us to help us in this whole purification process.  David’s plea to the Lord was, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God! My iniquity, my sin is ever before me.  I see it.  I also recognize that it is against You, oh Lord You only, that I have sinned. Create in me a clean heart, oh God and renew a right spirit within me!”  And how easy it was for David to allow sin to just co-exist with him until the day that the prophet Nathan stood in his face and said, “You are that man David”!  You are that man.  It’s so easy to let impurities stay within the recesses of our hearts and just walk around saying, “You know I am pretty good.  I’m not a murderer, I’m not a thief, and I’m not an adulterer.”  But what about small things, the small impurities in our hearts, those little things like strife and jealousy, anger and dissension…what do we do with those impurities, do we deal with them? Have they found permanent places in our hearts that somehow allow the Word of God to sweep over our hearts leaving those areas untouched?  What do we do, God?

Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You need to be born again.  You need to be born again!” Because it is only with a born again experience that you can have the Holy Spirit working in your heart to cleanse and purify, and if I were to ask you how many of you in this room are born again, I’m pretty sure that almost all of you would put your hands up.  And then if I were to ask you how many of you can say that there are no impurities in your heart, I’m pretty sure your hands will come down.  That’s why I said,  at the beginning that this is one of the hardest of the beatitudes, the poor in Spirit yes,  Lord I can put down pride, if it comes up I can put it down, be meek – yes Lord, mourn for my sins – yes Lord I feel bad every time.  I hunger and thirst after righteousness and yes, I’ll be merciful. 

But pure in heart – we take a step back and say, Oh, pure in heart? I found in my life that God is in the process of doing stuff – God is in the process of refining and purifying.  I just came across a quote by Fr. David Heaman who said, “The life of holiness is a life of process,” which means that even as our old life is continually prone to sin, our new life needs to be continually prone to the Spirit of God.  And I have found that we begin to work with the exterior first.   I know I have. Our behaviour, the things that people see about us those are the first things we change when we become Christians. Because we have to conform, and so if I used coarse language before or if I have been doing bad stuff then when I come together with God’s people, I keep those things out. And God begins to help us in that process until what is inside the church also begins to be outside the church with your friends and colleagues and everybody else.  And we look at that and we celebrate it because that’s the work of God in our hearts, when our behaviour inside the church matches our behaviour outside.  And the same goes for our speech, sometimes the talk that we use outside is so different from when we are inside here. And slowly as God begins to work, the Spirit of God begins to speak to us and we begin to put away coarseness in our speech, and pretty soon those things too are at par and we celebrate it because that’s the process of sanctification that God is leading us through.  But here’s the hardest part beloved, and this is where we stubbornly withstand the Holy Spirit, when God begins to work on the things that are not visible to people around us, and only visible to us, when God says to us “Will you change that attitude that you have?  Will you change that attitude you have? Would you change those thoughts? Would you work on those thought patterns?”  And that’s when we begin to stonewall Him and say, “Wait a minute Lord, I can’t give that up. That’s the part of myself hidden from the world that I indulge in.”

Sometimes you get into your car or you get on your bike and you leave church and just as you are exiting somebody comes in front of you and cuts you right off. And maybe some years ago you would have stepped on the gas, overtaken him or her, pulled them over to the side got out of your car, gone up to their door, pulled their door open and started abusing them, if not got into a fist fight with them.  I see the puzzled expression on your faces, that’s never happened to you, I mean, it’s such a joy to preach to all you sanctified, holy, redeemed saints! But when God began working on you, you said, “Oh I can’t do those kinds of things!” So the next time you are passing by and somebody cuts you, you stay in the car, but boy do your family members hear you speak!  Okay, we won’t go there; we all have our pet places that we can abuse, like inside the car – nobody else heard us, but the family, of course. And then God begins to work on that as well, and the next time this happens we don’t get out of the car, we don’t even speak out loud, but in our minds we say, “If I was driving a steam roller right now, I would have gone right over you. Oh and how I would have enjoyed that…”  And God says, “Stop it. Stop it,” and you say, “No Lord, it’s nice, I’m enjoying this bit of it.  I’d like to squelch them.” And God says, “That’s purity of heart, that’s the kind of purity that I’m talking about.” It’s the things that are not visible, the things that only you and I know about and God does too, these things that cause impurity in our lives. That’s the area, beloved, that we last give up on.  That we can keep to ourselves and nobody around us will ever dream that in our hearts as we speak to somebody there is a little bitterness or there is a little resentment or there is a little pride, or there is jealousy.  Nobody looking at you will ever dream, but God sees that and He says, “That’s impurity”.  That’s the heart, that’s the heart.  I struggled with this Word the whole time I was preparing, because God did a dredging in my own heart. He took great delight in the fact that I was going to be preaching this.  And I realized so many things in my life that I had justified, and thought were okay, and God says, “Those are the things that I want to deal with. Those - the things that nobody knows but you.” And you know that they’re keeping you from a life of holiness and righteousness. 

Jesus says in Matthew 5:20, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of God.” What was He saying? The scribes and Pharisees, their behaviour was perfect – they kept everything, but Jesus was saying, “Within their hearts are the impurities. And for you to see Me, those are the things that you need to work on.” Those are the things, beyond the behaviour, beyond the speech, to the attitudes of the heart and to the thoughts we entertain.  Are you willing beloved, to give up those areas? I think about heaven, for me, I can get a high just thinking of being in God’s presence, and actually seeing Him, falling at His feet in adoration and I want to do everything to make sure that that happens. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

Sometimes we have one key in the key bunch that we keep deep in our pockets that we don’t give to the Lord: “Lord, You can have every other aspect of my life, but not that” - one room that we keep for ourselves, one area that we like to dwell on which brings up the flesh and puts down the Spirit.  And I believe today God is speaking, beloved, to each one of us and saying, “You’ve done a great job on working on your behaviour and your speech, but I’m not done with you yet. I’m not – I’m refining you, I’m bringing you to the point where you will be pure in heart.” Are you ready to give that up? Give those areas to the Lord?
One of my favourite Scripture verses is I Thessalonians 5:25 which just says, “Faithful is He Who has called us and He will bring it to pass. Faithful is He who has called us and He will accomplish it.” Beloved, letting go of the impurities in our hearts, getting cleaned up involves only one thing – our will. It’s an act of volition that says to the Holy Spirit, “You can take charge. Every part of me, every room, here are the keys. This is the key bunch – You take it,” and He, beloved will clean up. That’s why the Psalmist says, “Create in me a clean heart oh God and renew a right Spirit within me,” because the impurities in our hearts will never give us the right kind of Spirit, the kind that we ought to have as children of the most high God.

We’ll pray in closing but I want to give you an opportunity, church, just as we’ve been allowing the Spirit of God to delve deep into our hearts these past weeks, to respond.  These have not been six easy Sundays; they’ve been hard, tough ones and yet I believe God is doing a refining work, God is purifying His church and maybe today as we’ve listened to Him, the Holy Spirit has put His finger on an area of your heart that even till now belongs to you and is motivated by your flesh and He’s saying to you, “Will you give it up? Will you give it to Me this morning? I want to make you pure I want to purify you, refine you,” and so if that’s you heart, if that is the position that you want to take willingly not because of anybody else in this room, but because you desire a pure heart, I want to invite you to just take a stand for that. Just stand to your feet, and say, “Lord, that is the intention of my heart. More than anything else Lord, more than anything else, Lord, You take charge. Every place in my heart that has no business being there Lord, I yield to You. Here are the keys, wash me thoroughly cleanse me from every stain, oh Holy Father, to You and only to You can we come with such a request, Lord. In our strength we know that we are completely inadequate to accomplish any of this, but Lord, etch upon our hearts that You are faithful and that You will accomplish it. Lord, with outstretched arms we give You those areas where You have not been sovereign, areas we have held on to. Lord, would You come, would you sweep in to that part of our hearts and take control? Lord would you clean house today, would you infuse in us just a tremendous sense of never wanting to go back there; that we would see Your face Master, one day, as ones who are pure in heart? Lord, would you put that kind of a seal upon our hearts, would you quickly remind us when the evil one or evil addictive behaviours will lead us back into those patterns of thinking, or attitudes? Would you bring the cross of Calvary against it, Lord? And say we ‘don’t need to go down that road, because I have shown you a path of holiness’?   Lord to that path we pledge, this morning, that we will seek after you Lord, and every day as your Spirit points out, we will give you those areas where impurity tends to come, that we may walk wholly before you Lord God; in the precious, beautiful, matchless Name of Your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, do we ask these things.  Amen.

 

 
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