Let us first look at what is meant by the word heart. The heart is the center of the personality. It includes the intellect, emotions, and will. It is the center of man's being. It is the fountain from which everything comes. It is the total man. The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Happy are those who are pure, not merely on the surface, but in the center of their being and the source of every activity.
A pure heart is a heart without folds; it is an open heart where nothing is hidden. The Psalmist prayed, “Unite my heart to reverence Thy name.” In essence he said, “Make my heart one.” Make it single. Take out the pleats and the folds, let it be whole; be sincere, pure, and entirely free from hypocrisy. The one who is pure in heart follows the following command, “Love the Lord your God with all your soul; with all your heart, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
“Without holiness no man can see God.” If there is un-confessed sin in our life, we cannot see God. 1 John 1 speaks of this as broken fellowship. If we are knowingly practicing sin in our life, we cannot see God. If our hands and heart are defiled, we cannot approach Him, nor stand in His presence (see Psalm 24). Before we can see God by faith and commune intimately with Him, we must be unworldly, unspotted and unstained. Only the pure in heart will see God.
There is a vision possible to the eye of faith. There is also a seeing, in the sense of intimately knowing Him - having a deep sense that He is near. One day we will be without spot or wrinkle, but by the Spirit's help, we should strive to be like that now. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Paul was not superman. His physical presence was weak and unimpressive. He was small in stature and his body was scarred by beatings and exposure; he may have been almost blind as well. His personal appearance may have been objectionable. His speech was contemptible, inferior, and he admitted himself that he was unskilled in speech, that he was not an orator. Paul was a normal man, just like Elijah, but God chose him to be one of the foolish, weak, and despised ones. He chose him to be His messenger and turn the world upside down. This should be an encouragement to all of us. If he can use such a one, can he not use you? After all, what was it that made Paul great?
The Cross of Christ in Matthew
Matthew 10:38 - One aspect of the cross is that Jesus demands the supreme place in our hearts. We are to love Him more than our father, mother, sister, or brother. To take up the cross is to acknowledge our identification with Him as the rejected One. A man carrying a cross is a man devoted to death.
Matthew 16:34 - The Lord again takes up the theme of bearing the cross and following Him. It implies deliberate, voluntary action. To deny Himself was to take up the cross. It is costly to carry the cross; we proclaim that we are crucified with Christ and that we are dead to the world, the flesh, and the devil. The spiritual believer believes this great life-changing truth and dies daily to all that is worldly or fleshly. Unless we are prepared to recognize the truth of our death with the Christ of Calvary and daily crucify our old man, we are not worthy to be Christ's followers. From a life like this, the Christ of God will flow in rivers of living water.
Striving for Purity
The pure in heart are those with unadulterated motives, holy thoughts, and a clear conscience before God and man. God's standard of holiness is non-negotiable. It is not holy, holier, and holiest. God measures a person by His own unchangeable, unalterable, and absolute holiness. In God's estimation a person is either holy (pure) or unholy (impure).
Paul prayed that the Philippians would be holy and couched his prayer in some choice words. In Philippians 1:10 we read, “That you may be SINCERE and without offense till the day of Jesus Christ.” The word sincere is very interesting. In the original language it means to be judged in the sunlight. The English word sincere is derived from the Latin sine cera, which means without wax.
In the days when art flourished in ancient Greece, it was a common practice to repair an expensive vase or ornament that had been damaged with invisible wax. If the buyer was knowledgeable, he would not pay until he had taken the vase into the direct rays of the sun. Then, after a while, he would examine it carefully to see if the melted wax had uncovered any flaw. If the vase passed the test of the sunlight, it was pronounced sine cera, that is without wax - in other words, it was genuine.
Are your heart and life pure? Sine cera - without wax? Without offense - that is, without flaw? At this moment the eyes of the Lord Jesus, which John describes as blazing flames of fire, are searching, scrutinizing, and analyzing your heart (life). The dark chambers are being exposed by the unsullied light of the Lord's face, which shines with the brilliance of the noonday sun. In the brilliance of His overwhelming and inescapable presence, the invisible wax, the clever facade melting, the real you, with all its imperfections is slowly being exposed.
Nothing can be hidden from the Omniscient God, the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Nothing can escape those relentless eyes of fire. [Describe Peter’s experience] If you are feeling uncomfortable, you should thank God, because you are on your way to purifying your life and becoming a person after God's heart. Confess and repent of your sin. When this is done, your life will be pure and you will experience perfect happiness, joy unspeakable, and peace that surpasses human comprehension. The Bible says, “If we confess our sin […]” and “The blood cleanseth from all sin.”
Why should we strive for this purity? (1) We become like the Lord Jesus, and therefore glorify God as we become conformed to the likeness of His Son. (2) God's power is only operational in purity. Scripture shows that there is power in purity. In the assemblies of God’s people today, we lack power. Our administrators, usually successful business men, see to it that the programs run smoothly, like a well oiled machine. Despite the seeming efficiency, we have little or no Holy Spirit power.
Could the reason be that underneath the facade, covered over skillfully with “invisible wax,” there are flaws, imperfections, impurities, un-judged, and un-confessed sins? Could this be the reason for the lack of power?
Examples of Purity
Let us now look at an illustration of how God's power flourishes in the sphere of purity (see 2 Chronicles 26). “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” Is your life, in its present state, acceptable to God? Have you ever wondered why your life is joyless and powerless? One of the reasons is that your heart is not pure. There is joy and power in purity.
Consider Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26 - “Uzziah did right in the sight of God.” His heart was right with God. “He sought God in the days of Zechariah the prophet.” “As long as he sought God, He made him to prosper.”
Uzziah's prosperity: “And God helped him." His name spread abroad, he was loved by his friends, and feared by his enemies. “He was marvelously helped of God till he was strong.” Israel had prosperity and power.
Uzziah's downfall: But when he was strong, his heart (pride) was lifted up to his destruction. His heart was not right with God. He sinned against the Lord. The seriousness of sin is revealed through the way that God smote him with leprosy. The consequences of sin were revealed when Uzziah died a leper, cut off from the house of the Lord. When sin entered into his life, and his heart became impure, he lost his power. Consider also the examples of Solomon, Annanias and Saphira.
What about your life? See Psalm 119:9, 11. Consequently, is it joyless and powerless? Is your life pure? Or are you being dominated and contaminated by sin? What about your life away from the eyes of men? Your life can never be away from the eyes of God. Is your devotional and prayer life in order?
In a survey of theological students, it was found that only a few had a daily devotional life. These men will be powerless preachers. “Teach us to pray.” “Men ought always to pray.” Travail in the closet is power in the pulpit. Before we criticize, let us look into our own life and see how we are before God. No man rises above his prayer life. No man lives beyond his vision. Are you a brother and sister of prayer? (Examples: Rachel - John Knox)
John Vassar, the great soul-winner of Boston, Massachusetts, knocked on the door of a woman's house and asked her if she knew Christ as her Savior. She replied, “It's none of your business,” and slammed the door in his face. He stood on the doorstep and wept and she, looking out of her window, saw him weeping. The next Sunday she was in church. She said it was those tears that touched her heart.
Brothers and sisters, where are our tears? Do we have tears for the lost? The reason why our eyes are dry is because our hearts are dry. We have little real compassion for the lost. Psalm 126 says, “They that go forth weeping [...]” Happy, joyful, and powerful are those who are pure in life, without wax, without offense, and without a flaw, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the pure in heart. The heart is the total man; it is the mind, the emotions, and the will. It is the seat of all desire, affection, perception, intention, and is the fountain-head of all thought and purpose. This purity that the Lord talks about here is not only external purity, but also internal purity. Bunyan, in his book “The Holy War,” describes the “eye gate” and “ear gate” as being the guardians of “man’s soul.” Your soul is one of God's most precious possessions. Think of the price He paid to redeem it.
The Lord said to preserve its purity in Matthew 5:28-30. “If your right eye causes you to sin pluck it out and throw it from you. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you.” God demands that we should be pure internally as well as externally. It is possible to be very respectable outwardly, but to be filthy inwardly as the mind wanders down the paths of impurity, stirring lusts and passions.
Romans 6 says, “Withdraw your members from being the servants of sin.” “Those that bear the vessels of the Lord must be clean.” Note the instructions given to the priests in Leviticus. Inevitably, we link the verse, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” with the majestic words of Psalm 24:
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift his soul unto vanity, nor swears deceitfully.”
Hands speak of outward acts - holy hands, blameless hands, guiltless hands. The heart speaks of the inner life.
O for hands that are not stained with sin.
O for a heart that is pure and clean.
O for a soul that is devoid of pride.
O for a tongue that has not sworn deceitfully.
O for a mouth in which there is no guile.
Such a man or woman will see God.
The pure in heart are those who put God first and who put God's glory above all else. John said, “I must decrease, He must increase.” Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” The perfect pure heart is the heart that can sing, “O fix our earnest gaze so wholly Lord on Thee.” “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” It is God's desire that His children be pure and holy in heart and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
To encourage us to become pure in heart, He would urge us to think of the things that are true, pure, lovely, and of good report. Paul reminds us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it ought to be kept clean, for “without holiness, no man can see God.” See Hebrews 12. (Examples: Castaway, Zephaniah) This, however, is not easy. Paul had his problems. See 1 Corinthians 9 – The Corinthians were not discerning of the Lord's body.
Consider the following quotes from Romans 7:
- Rom. 7:18 - “for I know that in me dwells no good thing.” Rom. 7:19 - “The good that I would do I do not; but the evil that I would not do, that I do.” Rom. 7:24 - “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this vile body of death? I thank God I am delivered through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Let me at this time give you the character of the pure or sanctified man:
1. He will love his brother: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”
2. He will serve his brother: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be his servant.”
3. He will be patient with his brother: “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men.”
4. He will be an example to his brethren: “In speech, in life, in love, in faith and purity."
5. He will forgive his brother: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God forgives you.”
6. He will not judge his brother: “Let us stop passing judgment on one another—who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls.” Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you will be judged.”
7. He will pray for his brother: “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.”
The pure in heart shall see God.
In a city in Scandinavia is a famous statue of our Lord. A visitor looking disappointed was seen standing before it. He expressed to the attendant his disappointment. “I can't see the face of Christ,” he complained. The attendant replied, “Sir, if you want to see His face, you must kneel at His feet.” The visitor knelt at His feet and saw His face. Brothers and sisters, we must kneel at the feet of the blessed Christ of God with a pure heart, with no un-confessed sin in our life; then indeed, we will see Him in all His beauty and glory, and crown Him Lord of all. “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.”