Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Please read Matthew 23 v 13-33

v 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

This text from the Sermon on the mount is the next in what are called the beatitudes.

It has been said that the price of purity is high – but impurity is dirt cheap.

Also, that genuine purity is internal because it derives its life solely from the Spirit of God.

Before we go any further perhaps we should distinguish between verse 8 and verse 6 – we could be asking the question “What is the difference between hungering and thirsting after righteousness and having a pure heart?” The answer is that hungering and thirsting after righteousness is a characteristic action of someone whose heart is pure! Christian Believers, whose hearts have been cleansed from sin, are motivated by purity of heart to love and serve the Lord in purity, and to long to be like their righteous Lord.

2. Another thing to notice is the connection between the Old Testament and the New. As we examine this sermon on the Mountain, we find that the Lord Jesus Christ, the author of the whole of the Bible, often says something that has already been said or hinted at in the Old Testament. We can see where His text in verse 8 of Matthew 5 comes from in 2 readings from the Psalms –

Blessed are the Pure in heart

Psalm 24 v 3-4 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

For they shall see God.

Psalm 17 v 15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

Purity of heart – but what exactly is a Pure Heart?

The 2 Greek words which form this phrase are Katharos - pure; and Cardia – heart.

Katharos always means cleansed, to be free from defilement of the flesh and the world; to be free from every corrupt desire, from sin, from guilt and from falsehood.

Cardia is the word from which we get Cardiac and can either refer to the organ which pumps the blood round the body. Or it denotes the centre of all physical and spiritual life. It can mean the centre

1) of soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours;
2) of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence; and
3) of the will and character;
4) of the soul so far as it is affected and stirred in a bad way or good, or of the soul as the seat of the sensibilities, affections, emotions, desires, appetites, passions.

Blessed are the Pure in heart,

says the Lord Jesus.

There is a need for us to examine these hearts of ours this morning! Can any one of us in this place today say “I am pure in heart? I have a pure heart?”

If we are honest today, we will have to admit that our hearts are anything but pure.

The great missionary Paul who contributed to much of the New Testament, said this about his own heart – in Romans 7 v 18

I know that within me, that is to say in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing,

Honest King David said in Psalm 51 v 5

Behold I was shapen in iniquity; in sin did my mother conceive me.

And he went on to state his need in v 10

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me!

As human beings our sinful natures draw us to IMPURITY – of thought, word and deed. Listening to Politicians and law makers we hear them argue for liberty and freedom – freedom to commit sin against Almighty God by breaking His Holy Commandments in a myriad of ways. How then can any of us know Purity, and thereby be happy – blessed? The only way to become pure is to have first of all been MADE PURE by God the Holy Spirit and have come to see true purity in the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the first point which we can make about Purity this morning –

1. A Pure Heart is a CONVERTED HEART.

When we are born again the Lord saves our souls – our hearts are changed, wonderfully, completely and gloriously. This radical inner change is hidden to everyone else until it begins to show itself in our changed lives. We find ourselves hating sin – the sin which so dominated our unconverted days. If our hearts are the centre of our beings, and we can identify 3 areas of our hearts as the mind, the will and the emotions, then all three areas are changed by the Regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Before we were converted, we had problems in all three areas. The letter to the Romans helps us to understand this –

Romans 1 v 18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Paul is thinking in the phrase “foolish heart was darkened” as the clouding of the mind by sin. People are so affected by sin that they cannot think clearly about God and their need of salvation. Then in Romans 2 v 3-5

And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Here he says that man has an implacable will which refuses to budge and bend to the will of God – “a hard, impenitent heart.” Thirdly the will is affected – Paul again in Romans 7 v 18

for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

The familiar verse of Jeremiah 17 v 9 comes to our minds and tells us of the problem – lack of purity

the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

Jesus words in Matthew 15 v 19 where he said

Out of the heart proceedeth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies.

This, friends is the state of unregenerate hearts. Every unbeliever, unconverted person, has this impure heart problem – and God sees them like that. What a black picture our unregenerate state is – we are as Thosmas Watson calls us “A Lump of clay and sin mingled together.”

But Praise God there is hope! The Gospel of Good News is that sinful creatures like us can be made Pure – by the One who Himself is altogether pure and Holy, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1 v 4 that He has chosen us that we should be HOLY.” that is pure. He has not chosen us because we are holy, but to become holy and pure. God knew whom He would save in eternity past.

Whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His son. Romans 8 v 29.

Only God can cleanse these hearts of ours from the impurity of sin. God does that judicially at the very moment of our conversion.

Purity of heart then is ONLY for converted people – it is impossible for any other class of human being. THE PURE HEART IS A CONVERTED HEART.

Do you have a Converted heart my friend? You may ask “How can this happen?” The answer is in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ who said

I am the way the truth and the Life – no man cometh unto the father but by me.

How can Jesus Christ be the way the truth and the Life? Because He suffered and bled and died on a cross. He submitted Himself to the curse of God on sin – our sin – and took our punishment as a substitute! He became sin for us who knew no sin! He was pure – we were impure. He, the pure Saviour took on the impurities of His people – and paid the penalty – so we may go free and live for ever! Jesus Christ calls you to renounce and leave your impurity behind – to repent – and then to believe that He can and will cleanse your heart! You need to know Jesus Christ as your Saviour. And for that you need to seek Him earnestly – until He finds you!

2. The pure heart teaching is a CONTRAST.

We have to remember that Jesus was not only addressing the disciples gathered around his feet on the mountain side that day – but also the crowds of people who had also come. Amongst them would have been the religious leaders – the scribes, the Pharisees, the doctors and the lawyers. They would have been very, very happy to have heard Jesus say, “Blessed are the pure in life.” or “Blessed are those who keep the law particularly on the outside, who obey Moses regulations for living to the letter and are totally open and honest about their degree of outward holiness.” How disappointed when He clearly said,

“Blessed are the pure in heart”.

What would have caused their sadness? The Lord Jesus meant in this, that to be pure in heart was to have an inward purity of heart and soul which would show and translate itself into the outside life by the grace of God. The Jewish leaders had lost their way in this one. We read earlier from Matthew 23 the thoughts that Jesus had about them! They were outwardly correct. They were pure and holy as far as external observations went – but their hearts were far from God. Jesus knew those hearts. It was not that He could merely discern that they had bad hearts, but He knew them through and through – He was God – he had made them – he was acquainted with their pseudo-purity. And He wanted them to know that purity on the outside was useless without purity on the inside. The Lord Jesus was acknowledging that they had a form of Godliness; but it was in the form of an external sanctity. Yes, they were separated from idolatry and paganism; they were set apart as holy to Jehovah and they were permitted to draw near unto God in the ordinances of their Jewish worship. BUT it stopped short of “seeing God.” They could approach the Holy place in the Temple, where God’s honour dwelt, but they had no intimacy with God.

On the other hand, the person whose heart had been made pure by a conversion experience is promised a sight of the living God, by faith. Only the soul with the cleansed heart could be acceptable with God no matter how much anyone else went through the forms of ritual and devotion to God. Martin Luther found out this. He shut himself away; starved himself; denied himself even beat himself but could find no assurance of purity of soul - until he was converted – born again by the Spirit and saw for Himself the person of Christ in His heart. The contrast between the person who on the outside is living a pure life and the person whose heart has been made pure in conversion, could not be more stark.

And it can be true of us too. It is quite easy to adopt the position of purity of heart. We can be at all the meetings; we can be kind and sympathetic and understanding; we can be hard workers and avid readers of the Word of God; we can have degrees in theology, we can be generous in our giving to the cause of the Gospel – BUT none of these things are the slightest good to God unless they come from the heart which has been made pure. We need to make sure that these hearts of ours are truly converted and cleansed and purified – otherwise all our efforts at purity are nothing. Do you have a converted heart my friend?

Converted heart; a Contrasted heart; now

3. A Pure Heart is A CONCERNED HEART.

A pure heart has been rendered pure by God’s powerful working of the Spirit. But how do we know that our hearts are pure? Well a pure heart is a sensitive heart – it is sensitive to sin of any kind when it attacks. I remember an old country song reflecting something of this sensitivity –

I’ve got a brand-new sign, in bright red letters,
Hanging on the door of my heart;
The Lord’s moved in, I’ve never felt better,
My life’s been changed I’ve made a new start!
I’m going to let the devil know He isn’t wanted anymore, when he comes calling on me,
Oh, how mad He’s going to be, When he begins to read - FULL UP! NO VACANCY.

The sensitive heart is concerned not to offend the Lord; it has an active conscience; it is a heart than can be touched by the enormity of sin and run terrified away when it comes near. It is not a callous heart which has become hardened by regular excursions into sinfulness and rebellion!

The concerned heart is the believing heart, confident in the word of God and all His promises.

The concerned heart is an informed heart as opposed to an ignorant heart – ignorant of the Lord Jesus Christ and His law. The concerned heart is the heart that knows its need of more purity and holiness; as opposed to a smug self-satisfaction similar to the state of the church in Laodicea which said of itself Revelation 3 v 17

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;

Ignorance is the mother of pride – this church needed to hear the Spirit’s words –

and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

It is a dangerous thing to have an ignorant heart – because an ignorant heart is an impure heart and sees no need of purity.

A concerned heart is a sincere heart and the pure heart which is sincere shows itself in service to Christ and His gospel with the WHOLE HEART.

Pure, sincere hearts are also SUSPICIOUS hearts. What do I mean? Well the hypocrite, the false professor, the unconverted church attender suspects others; and has high and charitable thoughts about himself. The sincere Christian with the pure heart has charitable thoughts about others and suspects himself! The pure heart is ever serious about self-examination – he is often calling himself to account. How do I know that I am a Christian? Does my lamp have gospel oil in it? Am I ready for my Lord to come? What will He find me doing when He appears? And such thoughts can tend to lead, if they are not then met with the promises of scripture, to times of doubting ones integrity and genuineness. However, this is far more healthy in the context of purity of heart, than to be complacent and self-satisfied.

And a concerned sincere heart abhors all sin;

abstains from every appearance of evil 1 Thessalonians 5 v 22;

maintains a tender conscience and a pure heart seeks to live a pure life &ndash There is an interesting verse in Proverbs 30 v 12

There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

Someone has said that if the stream is corrupt then we can suspect that the source of the stream is impure too. Thomas Watson said that “Purity must not only be woven into the heart but engraved on the life.”

4. A Pure heart is a CONSISTENT heart.

The pure heart is a heart for the Lord Jesus Christ. Purity of heart leads us into a consistency of behaviour and thought as we grow up in the cleansing action of mortifying sin and putting on holiness. It is often in the area of the thought life that inconsistency can be most telling. We can be cool and calm on the outside as a Christian never losing our temper, but inside we can be eaten up with furious thoughts, bitter and resentful thoughts. If our brothers and sisters in Christ could see inside our hearts we would be ashamed.

So then this is the heart which is pure – but what does the last phrase mean? For they shall see God?

To see God is to be saved. We see God in the Lord Jesus Christ for He came to reveal the living God to us. To see God is to discern Him, to know of His personal dealings with us; to know the one with whom you speak in your devotional times. To see God is to see with opened eyes the glories of nature and the wonders of His creation all around us. To see God is to see in everything that happens to us His gracious hand moving, both the good things and the not so good.

And of course to see God is to see Him with new eyes one day in heaven, in glory, surrounded by the rainbow and seated on His throne.

Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.