The Beatitudes: Blessed are the Pure
Principles of Faith
In the beatitudes, Jesus presents blessings available to the one that accepts their own blessedness—their transition from injury and pain to healing and relief—requires they first pursue and take on-board some healing attitudes; some Christ-centred principles of faith.
The sixth of those principles is, 'Blessed are the Pure in Heart for they shall see God'.
I don't think we need to go into any lengthy word study to understand Jesus' use of the word pure in this beatitude. Pure simply means unmixed with anything else. If I was to speak of pure water, pure metal, pure oxygen, we would understand I refer to those things being uncontaminated, unpolluted by any thing else; free from what is undesired.
Another word we might choose to use is—Clean.
But what did Jesus mean by being “pure in heart” (Clean hearted)?
The heart, in biblical context, normally does not refer to the physical organ but to the inner man. The part of him that is concealed.
'...the hidden person of the heart.' 1 Peter 3:4
The scriptures present this hidden heart as the seat of man's emotions. For example, King David speaks of God in Psalm 4:7 as putting gladness in his heart. (see also Psalm 13:2, 5; 17:10; Matt. 5:28; 19:8)
It is also presented as the wellspring (source) of our reasoning, both mental and moral. Psalm 4:4 reads, 'Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.'
'The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1
'As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.' Proverbs 23:7
See also: Ps. 4:4; 14:1; Matt. 5:28; 15:19; Ps. 33:11; Acts 5:4; 8:22; Ps. 9:1.
As such, the heart is also considered the root of human depravity and deception.
"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
The biblical writer, James, wrote of this deception as something we commit within our own hearts.
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless." James 1:26
Therefore, the heart is the place from which the outer man is defiled. Jesus spoke of it this way,
“...those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man...” Matthew 15
The heart, then, represents the true character of ourselves, a character that is concealed from others to a large degree, and even from ourselves to some extent.
John wrote to the church Laodicea concerning their true heart condition, which they they were blind to.
'Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked..' Revelation 3:17
However the heart is also spoken of as the sphere of divine influence in our lives.
That part God desires most about us.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, you will not reject, O God. Psalm 51:17
It is a place from which God wants to reign and change us; for spiritual change can only occur from the heart. Therefore it is the part of us that best defines not just who we are, but who we can become—and only God sees it for what it truly is and is capable of.
...The Lord doesn’t see things the way man does. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
It is to this core aspect of ourselves, that Christ attributes blessedness when it is pure, for only the pure hearted can see God.
The Heart of the Matter
How then, you might ask, in this hidden, depraved, deceptive, unfathomable—but most important part of me—do I bring about purity?
Well, the answer is, you don't, or, better put, you can't, not without God. That said, neither can God do it without us. And God does so through the person of Christ and the medium of our faith. The apostle Peter spoke of this in Acts 15:8-9, in reference to the first non-Jewish converts (Gentiles), saying, “...So God, who knows the heart...purified their hearts by faith.”
'Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit...' 1 Peter 1:22
Outside of Gods grace, all our efforts at purity of heart would be tainted and futile. However, within his grace, our faith becomes the furnace through which God continually refines our hearts.
Of course, here we have to make that distinction between pure hearts and pure actions.
Although Jesus’ phrase “pure in heart” refers to a heart being refined. That cannot refer to being sinless.
We know that by experience. But also because scripture itself refutes such an understanding.
'If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.' 1 John 1:8-10
We, due to our hearts, are sinners, and will be until the day we die (2 Cor. 3:18).
So, if we cannot offer to God a sinless heart, either before or after putting our faith in him. What is it that we can offer up to God in faith, that he can use to purify our hearts?
In Psalm 51 King David offered to God a heart felt prayer. The prayer occurred after he had sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba. When David wrote this Psalm, he was in anguish because of his sin.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Psalm 51
In verse 10 of that prayer, David asks of God, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God...'
We cannot, as sinners, offer up anything to God but a sincere desire to be forgiven and to be changed.
To be pure in heart, then, can be understood in a similar light to that passage in Matthew 5:48 translated, 'Be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.'
That passage calls us to 'be' perfect, not 'do' perfectly.
The only way we know of 'being' perfect is to continue to receive the forgiving grace of God and the imparted righteousness of Christ.
Therefore Matthew 5:48, as with this beatitude, is an instruction about being, not doing.
Perhaps the best understanding of the call to 'be perfect' is to see it as God's call for us to rest in perfection. We know of no other perfection than Christ. This, then, is a call for us to rest in Christ, to dwell in him, to draw from him.
Likewise, 'Blessed are the pure in heart', is not a command to purify our own hearts, we can't. Rather it it a call to offer up our hearts, broken and repentant, as David did before us. And this, to repeat the words of the Psalmist, God will not reject.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, You will not reject. Psalm 51:17
Let's get Serious About Our Hearts
But this is where we seriously need to consider what it means to offer up such a heart to God.
Repentance is the heart felt acknowledgement that we seriously need and want to change, not just on the surface, but at the deepest, most hidden, concealed parts of our being; because that is the part Gods see and seeks for himself.
In line with that, faith in Christ, is the heart felt acknowledgement that we cannot achieve such such change without him. As he himself said in Matthew 15:5, “...without me you can do nothing.”
And it is to heal our broken hearts that Christ came and died.
He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted...Isaiah 61
Healing, then, requires the attitude that David expressed. It says,
"I will cease playing games and undertake a rigorous moral inventory of my motives and behaviour. I determine to discover every unhealthy way within me and face it."
Too often we live at the surface of life. Shallow beings that go day-by-day on auto-pilot, reacting to life by impulse with little scrutiny of why.
However, healing demands the scrutiny of my motives. What drives me? Why do I do what I do?
I must move beyond the outward behaviours to the motives that underlie my actions.
For God to transform my heart, requires that I first offer up to him a willingness to have my heart exposed to truth.
And for that, I need the insight of God.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.Psalm 12:6
For healing to take place in my life, I need to weigh my heart against the word of God. Not just my words and actions, my heart.
You see, placing my faith in Christ's redeeming sacrifice, was only the beginning of a process of transformation that God desires in my life. A transformation that only proceeds in proportion to the trust I place in Gods word above my deceptive heart.
And we must understand clearly here, there is a nature within each of us that wants to believe the lies of our heart. And that nature will seek to protect the strongholds it has managed to establish in our lives; whatever they be.
Sometimes these deceptions have become so entrenched in our thinking and feelings, so habitual and beguiling, that we have become a prisoner to them, enslaved, so that what was at first believed necessary for comfort or protection or coping, becomes our master and controls us.
And because the matters of the heart are hidden, sometimes the most got-it-all-together seeming people on the outside, are the most messed up with self-deception on the inside.
And this is why heart purity requires the word of God. Paul speaks of this spiritual war in 2 Corinthians 10: 4-5
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Our Heart is something we'll work on for the rest of our lives in our desire to please God.
Working on our heart is the only thing that will keep it from deceiving us. Either our heart will deceive us through the schemes of the enemy—whom we know is the father of deceit—or we will purify our hearts by placing our faith in Gods truth; for we know he cannot lie.
And to end this article on a practical note, a catalyst to victory in all parts of life is when we starve the flesh and feed the spirit.
When we do not make a deliberate choice to thinking according to the Spirit, we tend to default to the flesh.
The less we feed the spirit of God within us with things that energise him to fill us, the more his presence shrinks within us. But if, by all means available to us, we position our heart in Christ-centred directions, we will grow to more clearly see him
The pure of heart can see God, because their heart presents. Their allegiance is undivided. They are for God, 100%, nothing but. They will see God at work in their life, and they will meet God when they die.
It’s not good behaviour that creates a pure heart. But a pure heart will show itself in how we act. Our motives and our intentions will become clear as we live a life full of excuses, or full of conviction and purpose.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord
© 2014 Richard Parr
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