- Luke Hildebrand
Blessed Are The Pure In Heart
Near the beginning of His ministry, Jesus gave one of His most important lessons for the Christian life, the Sermon on the Mount. One of these lessons contained the Beatitudes, a series of eight proverb-like blessings pronounced by Jesus upon those to whom they apply. The sixth of these Beatitudes is both extremely simple and complex at the same time.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
This verse is quite easy to understand at first glance, even simplistic, but how are believers supposed to achieve such perfection? Or does this verse only speak of the purity we will achieve through Christ when we reach heaven? As becoming continually more like the image of the flawless Jesus Christ while here on earth is the goal of all Christians, it is important that we understand His teaching regarding what purity of the heart requires.
The reason why Jesus blesses purity of the heart is that the heart is where man holds his deepest desires and beliefs, for we may often have pure ideas or philosophies in our minds while housing impure desires in our hearts at the same time. Jesus also does not bless the pure deeds we perform, for we often speak and act outwardly righteous around others while having an unclean heart. This is also known as hypocrisy, such as the Pharisees practiced, and Jesus said of them: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27). Being pure in heart, therefore, means not only to perform righteous deeds and keep our words pure but to desire in our hearts and minds to contain holiness and glorify God with our entire being. Only by reaching this state can we “see God” as Jesus put it.
In this life, no man can look upon or comprehend the essence of God. However, those Christians who are pure of heart and look upon the world through eyes of faith will see more than most. They will enjoy communion with God, not just in public church service, but in their private devotion as well, seeing Him through the lens of His works here on earth. Whether it be His creation of all we see and are, His sovereign providence for our needs and protection upon us, or the unearned grace He bestows, He blesses us despite our inability to earn it or repay Him. It is important to remember, though, that as 1 Corinthians 13:12 says: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” This means that the true reward for living a life of purity and faith comes after we leave this fallen earth and join our Creator in heaven. There we shall see and commune with our God in all His unimaginable glory, ourselves truly free of impurity and sin, truly satisfied and joyful for all eternity.
How, then, can we achieve such purity on earth and obtain that eternal reward? We cannot. The first and most fundamental requirement for purity is, of course, salvation and cleansing of our sinful heart by the blood of Jesus. Before He came, there was no possibility for sinful humanity to purify our hearts or see God. So, Jesus became the way, as Titus 2:14 says, “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” God purifies us so that we can pursue purity. We achieve earthly purity of heart by His power at work within us, which is through His Spirit, and making the decision through faith to do what Jesus taught: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) There must be no division in the heart of any Christian who wishes to purify it, only one will and desire to align ourselves faithfully with God’s truth and glorify Him in all that we do and with all that we are. “Pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14)
Therefore, we can see God’s glorious work in our lives and in the world by purifying our hearts here on earth. By the same process we will also see God’s work in the world through ourselves, for whatever a man does is but a reflection of the state of his heart. Any Christian with a heart purified by Jesus’ blood and devoted fully to His service will find themselves and their efforts blessed by God.