[To“see” is ὁράω (horaō) and means “to see with the eyes, to see with the mind, to perceive, know, to become acquainted with by experience]
Big idea: Jesus is concerned about the condition of our hearts. Motive matters. Jesus is both the goal and the fruit of the gospel.
Here’s the problem: Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Review — Here at SBF we view the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) as a pathway leading to spiritual growth. We see each Beatitude as a stepping-stone to the next, and as we regularly cycle through them we keep growing deeper and deeper…
A Review of Imputed Righteousness (God’s righteousness or ours?):
- Protestant theology has emphasized that this includes the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (crediting it to the believer’s “account”), whereas…
- Roman Catholic theology emphasizes that God justifies in accordance with an infused (or imparted) righteousness merited by Christ and maintained by the believer’s good works.”
- Imputed righteousness therefore means that upon repentance and belief in Christ, individuals are declared legally righteous. This righteousness is not the believer’s own, rather it is Christ’s own righteousness ‘imputed’ to the believer.
- This results in assurance of our salvation, or an inner witness of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the outward manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24) allowing the believer to know (i.e., be assured) that s/he is saved and has eternal life.
The first thing we learn from this beatitude is that Jesus is concerned with our heart. It is not enough to clean up our act on the outside. Motive matters.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity [or greed]. You blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean. (Matthew 23:25–26)
The aim of the gospel is not to reform the manners of society, but to change the deceitful and wicked hearts of sinners like you and me. Would Jesus be satisfied with a society in which there were no acts of adultery or murder?
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27–28)
The heart is what we are, in the secrecy of our innermost thoughts and feelings, when nobody knows but God. And what we are at the invisible root matters more to God than what we ‘appear’ to be at the visible branch. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart…For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man. (Matthew 15:18–19)
So the heart is utterly crucial to Jesus. What we are in the deep, private recesses of our lives is what God cares about most. Jesus did not come into the world simply because we have some bad habits that need a dose of behavior modification. He came into the world because Adam and Eve’s sin has been imputed to you and me – and our heart’s are deceitful and desperately wicked — in need of purification.
Today I want to ask and answer two questions:
- What does it mean to be pure in heart?
- How can we become pure in heart?
What does it mean to be pure in heart?
In 1847 Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish theologian who focused much of his writing on Christian ethics, wrote a book titled: Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing, which becomes the beginning of an excellent definition for pure in heart.
I would make one small change: “Purity of heart is to desire one thing.”
(I would identify the idea of willing – to be a function of the soul (i.e., intellect, will, and emotion) and, therefore, akin to moralism.
So, when we say that purity of heart is to desire one thing – what are we to desire?
Consider the words of Paul in Phil 3:7-11 (in the first few verses of the chapter Paul identifies his human pedigree and status) – “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
A pure heart is an undivided heart. Purity of heart is to make knowing Christ Jesus my Lord the primary goal and focus of our lives.
Does Jesus, Himself ever explain purity of heart? Yes, in Mat 22:37…
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.
Not with part of your heart. Not with a double or divided heart. That would be impurity. Purity of heart means no deception, no double-mindedness, no divided allegiance.
(Note: you can see the echo of this meaning of purity of heart in 1 Timothy 1:5, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere [i.e., unhypocritical] faith.”)
Purity of heart is to desire one thing, namely, God’s truth and God’s value in everything we do. The aim of the pure heart is to align itself with the truth of God and magnify the worth of God. If you want to be pure in heart, pursue God with utter single-mindedness. Purity of heart is to desire that one thing.
How can we become pure in heart? (For most of us this seems impossible. Him-possible?)
1. Pray to Christ – Ps. 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
2. Trust in Christ – Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all [people], 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
3. Fix your ultimate hope on Christ – 1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
4. Receive Christ’s cleansing by faith – Acts 15:7-9, (The Council at Jerusalem) “Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”
5. Insert yourself into the Beatitudes. The pathway to true spiritual transformation begins with a revelation of spiritual poverty, moving us to a season of sustained repentance, where we become humble learners with a growing holy hunger to receive and embrace God’s gift of righteousness. As we receive God’s mercy we begin to give it. Mercy cleanses our heart and restores purity, which begins to permeate our soul…and we begin to see and experience God in vibrant and life-altering ways to catch a fresh view/perspective of God. And it is from that place that we move from peacekeeping to peacemaking. Living life from a kingdom of God perspective will place us in conflict with those that oppose it (often times it’s “religious” people!).
Malachi 3:2-4 — “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.”
When the heat is turned up dross and impurities drift to the surface and are scooped away by the Smelter. We stand with one another through the purifying process in the hope that, someday, we will bear His reflection in purity.
- We need each other.
- This week it might be you – next week it might be me…
 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for horaō (Strong’s 3708)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 01 July 2012. http:// http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3708&t=NASB
 Elwell Evangelical Dictionary.
 He is viewed as a caustic, yet passionate writer critiquing the spiritual condition of the Western world – probing church and Christians for “sluggish faith” and “obese worship” (Eugene Peterson, Take and Read, Eerdman’s 1996:10).
 1) Past grace – justification, 2) Present grace – sanctification, 3) Future grace – glorification.
 2 Corinthians 11:2- “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”