• johned@aibi.ph

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

(Matthew 5:8 NKJV) Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

Purity of heart has often seemed to me to be an unattainable goal, lofty, idealistic and out of reach. Almost in the "too hard basket". The questions arise "How can I have a pure heart living in today's world, I don't stand a chance. It's futile to even hope for it" or "I've been too hurt by life, I'm too messed up to ever have a pure heart".. Like Solomon we cry:

(Proverbs 20:9 NKJV) Who can say, "I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin"?

Why then did Jesus ever bother uttering these words? These words were uttered to puncture the pride of the hypocrites on one hand and to encourage the humble and godly in their quest on the other. The great surprise of the New Testament and of the Bible in general is that it talks about a pure heart as an attainable reality.( 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22, Hebrews 10:22, 1 Peter 1:22). We shall look at these references later. First we shall look at what is a pure heart.

What Is A Pure Heart?

Soren Kierkegaard said that "Purity of heart is to will one thing." While that is fine in a secular sense it is insufficient for the Christian. Hitler could will one thing as could many very evil people. The heart must will the correct "one thing". The Christian must add goodness to this definition. Purity of heart involves holiness. However I don't want to throw Kierkegaard's definition out of the window entirely, purity of heart definitely involves a singleness of purpose. The life is shot like an arrow toward God. Purity of heart, like faith, is singular and fixed. For the godly man or woman it is fixed on God and His glory. A pure heart is that which only wills the good. The pure in heart cries out
(Psalms 40:8 NKJV) I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart."

By contrast an impure heart unleashes hate, discord and strife. It is ruled by envy and selfish ambition, operates according to demonic wisdom and has the fruit of "disorder and every evil thing".

(James 3:14-16 NRSV) But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. {15} Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. {16} For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.

Jesus and Jeremiah both gave very unflattering descriptions of the human heart apart from the grace of God.

(Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV) "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?(Mark 7:21-23 NKJV) "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, {22} "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. {23} "All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

Our hearts are by nature sinful and deceptive. They are full of wicked thoughts including the deceptive lie that we are basically good and that we have no real need to change. That is why Christian fellowship is so important for our growth in God. Without the input of others and the sharp two-edged sword of God's Word wielded by the Holy Spirit we would be easily deceived bu our own proud hearts..This is one reason why it is necessary to go to church and hear good Bible teaching from loving pastors.

The Bible also speaks of the divided or double heart...

(Psalms 12:1-2 NKJV) Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. {2} They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

When you meet a double-hearted person you are aware that there is a lack of integrity and an overriding self-interest. They are "faithless" and do not keep their word. They are not anchored within themselves but adrift.

(James 1:6-8 NKJV) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. {7} For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; {8} he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

The double-minded person has a heart that cannot stay fixed on God but which alternates between the will of God and the attractions of this world. By contrast people with pure hearts come across as "solid", faithful and dependable. Not men-pleasers but God-pleasers. Psalm 15 describes these faithful, pure-hearted people.

(Psalms 15 NKJV) LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? {2} He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; {3} He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; {4} In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; {5} He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

This is an exact parallel to Psalm 24:

(Psalms 24:3-5 NKJV) Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? {4} He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. {5} He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 15 can thus be seen as an extended description of what it means to have "clean hands and a pure heart". What then are the chief characteristics of the pure in heart? They are morally upright, their thoughts are "straight". The pure in heart "speak truth in their hearts"(Psalm 15:2). Their inner talk is truthful and honest, full of integrity, God-centered and productive.

(Psalms 19:14 NKJV) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

The pure in heart treat their friends well and have control over their tongues and their tempers so that they are neither back-biters or gossips (Psalm 15:3). However they are not naive and use godly discernment evaluating others primarily by their character not their wealth or appearance. The vile are not flattered or courted in any way but rather they are despised - even though they may be influential. Yet even the "insignificant" who fear the Lord and are honored (Psalm 15:4). The pure in heart are safe. When they make a promise they keep it even if it ends up hurting them.(Psalm 15:4). They may be "ripped off" but they do not rip off others in any way (Psalm 15:5) either by charging high interest on loans or taking a bribe against the innocent. Because they are safe and stable friends God grants them safe and stable lives. (Psalm 15:5).

The Pure Heart and The Blood of Christ

(Hebrews 10:22 NKJV) let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

(1 John 1:7-10 NKJV) But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {10} If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

(Psalms 51:7-11 NKJV) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. {8} Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. {9} Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. {10} Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. {11} Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Christians have the marvelous advantage of the continuing work of the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing us from all sin. The blood of Christ is the starting point for personal purity and the only hope of success. Our tendency to become corrupted by the world, tempted by the Devil and led astray by the lusts o our flesh is too strong for any other remedy. The blood of Christ is God's powerful cleansing agent that works day and night against our impurities.

David cries "Cleanse me with hyssop". Hyssop was used to apply the blood of the sacrificial Lamb at Passover and stands for the atonement applied to the life of the Christian believer. The result? "And I shall be clean..". This is what Hebrews speaks about when it speaks of "having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.." The hyssop sprinkled the blood and the blood cleanses the sinner. David again says "Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow". This refers to the "washing of baptism" which is not a removal of dirt from the flesh but an appeal for a good conscience.(1 Peter 3:21) We are washed with water and the blood and made clean inwardly. This cleansing with the blood is ours in Christ, if we ask God for it He is "faithful and just" and will cleanse us.(1 John 1:7-10) It is one of the ordinary (but nonetheless great) graces of the Christian life. Live in it.

Other Means of Attaining Purity of Heart

While the basis of a pure heart is the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing us from all sin there are three other cleansing agents that God uses. They are godly discipline, the word of God received in faith and Christian hope.

(Proverbs 20:30 NKJV) Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.

Some of us get purified the hard way. God disciplines us until we wake up and deal with our sin. He calls out...

(Isaiah 55:7 NKJV) Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

If the unrighteous do not forsake their thoughts they are chastised until they repent. When we choose to deal with our thought life we find a God who "abundantly pardons". You will sometimes hear people say "it was a very hard time but after it I got a new perspective on life and started to take God more seriously.." that is God's discipline at work. But there is an easier way!

The word of God received in our heart by faith renews our minds and purifies us from sin. That faith is necessary is both common sense and the testimony of Scripture. Obviously not all who hear the word of God have pure hearts. But some are greatly changed by the entering of the word of God into their lives. Such was the case with Jesus' disciples. At the Lord's supper Jesus first of all said:

(John 13:10-11 NKJV) Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." {11} For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."

but after Judas left He said:

(John 15:3 NKJV) "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

Jesus words had sunk into the disciples (soon to be apostles) at such a depth that they were now clean vessels fit for the Spirit to indwell at Pentecost and for years of fruitful ministry.

(1 John 3:2-3 NKJV) Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. {3} And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Hope purifies us. It focuses us on good and godly objectives and is one of the chief means of attaining a pure heart. When a girl is engaged to be married there is often a concentrated flurry of expectant hope and focused activity. She may go to the gym, trim down, get her hair done nicely, and do all the other things needed to look good on the wedding day. Or the athlete in hope of winning a prize makes each grinding training session count. The hope disciplines the life. So it is with the Christian disciple and the Second Coming. We want to receive our crown, our imperishable victors wreath. As that hope becomes vivid within us we naturally purify ourselves. We see that the things of this world are passing away and set our sights on eternity. The hope of heaven is absolutely essential if we are to endure the more difficult disciplines of the Christian life. When we realize that we are bound for eternal glory then we want to be fit for it. We want to be blameless, spotless and undefiled. We want to have pure hearts for only those with pure hearts can see God.

The Benefits of A Pure Heart

Listed below are five benefits of a pure heart.

  1. Seeing God(Matthew 5:8 NKJV) Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

  2. The Friendship of God the King (Proverbs 22:11 NKJV) He who loves purity of heart And has grace on his lips, The king will be his friend.

  3. All Things Become Pure (Titus 1:15 NKJV) To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

  4. God Is Good To The Pure In Heart (Psalms 73:1 NKJV) Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart.

  5. God's Presence (Psalms 15 NKJV) LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? {2} He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart;

The pure in heart enjoy a remarkable degree of fellowship with God and man. They can stand in His tabernacle and dwell in His holy hill. They can see Him. He is their friend. He makes earthly kings to be their friend as well. He is good to the pure in heart and gives them the capacity to enjoy all things as pure and good. For the pure in heart even sexual relationships are pure but to the "defiled and unbelieving' they are "dirty". It is as we purify ourselves from sin that we become close to God, useful in His service and able to truly enjoy all that He has created.

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.