Matthew 5:8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
The sixth beatitude clearly defines how we can enter the Kingdom of God. It is a challenging beatitude for us to accomplish. It requires that we take a close, honest examination of ourselves. Everyone needs to stop and think about the kind of person they are within.
WHAT MOTIVES DO WE HAVE IN SERVING GOD? Examining one's own motives can be intimidating. There are a lot of things in this world that we do with mixed motives. The Pharisee in Luke 18 is a good example. He prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners (i.e. – getting money by threats, etc.), unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all I get (Luke 18:11-12). This self-righteous Pharisee thought of himself as better than others. Human beings have the tendency to compare themselves with people they think are inferior to them. It is not hard to find somebody who is worse than we are.
Do you believe your good works are enough for you to have a right standing with God? Do you believe your tithes to the church are enough for you to have a right standing with God? When you attend a worship service, are you focused on worshiping God, or is your mind focused on other things? When you pray in a public worship service are you focused on God, or are you praying to impress those who are around you?
At times, all human beings experience mixed motives. John Bunyan was once told by someone that he had preached well that day. He answered sadly, “The devil already told me that as I was coming down the pulpit steps.” When somebody congratulated me for preaching a good sermon, there have been times I felt a little like John Bunyan. Did I preach to glorify God or to glorify me?
In the sixth beatitude, Matthew 5:8, Jesus asks us to do something that is exceedingly difficult if not impossible to accomplish. Is the service we give to the Lord from selfless motives or from motives of self-display? Does the service we give to the Lord glorify Him or us? When we pray, do we have a sincere desire to glorify God? When we read the Bible do we seek to understand God’s Word, or is it just a routine we go through to make ourselves feel good?
PURSUE … HOLINESS. The Bible says pursuing holiness is (1) a drawing near to God with full faith and a cleansed conscience, and (2) it is a genuine acceptance of Christ as the Savior and Lord of our lives, bringing sinners into fellowship with God. Jesus’ death on the Cross was a sacrifice for our sins. If Christians do not demonstrate the qualities God desires, non-believers will not be drawn to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is written, “You shall be holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16). The reason for practicing a holy manner of living is that Christians are associated with the Holy God and must treat Him and His Word with respect and reverence. True devotion to God is expressed in holy living (The Moody Bible Commentary). To submit to moral “righteousness” leads easily to the pursuit of holiness.
WHAT IS LOVE? It is to serve as the distinguishing characteristic of discipleship. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have a love for one another (John 13:35). This commandment is not new. Deuteronomy 6:5 says you shall love Yahweh (the Lord) your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:5). Christian love comes from putting God in the center of our lives. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 15:2, let each one of us please his neighbor for the good, to be building him up (to strengthen him). Christian love is not an impulse from feelings but a personal commitment. Jesus shared with His disciples what He expected of them after his leaving. The love Jesus commanded was new since it called his followers not merely to love but to love sacrificially even as Jesus loved them. Since love is one of the primary marks of discipleship, others will know (identify) Jesus' disciples by their love for one another. Love for others was commanded in the Old Testament. … God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him (1 John 4:16). When we put our faith and trust in Jesus, His death and resurrection assure us of salvation. Jesus’ love was self-sacrificing. The genuine Christian has a self-sacrificing love for others. Jesus said, … love your enemies, do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27). He also says, … love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 19:19).
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PURE IN HEART? The “heart,” in the Bible, usually means the whole personality. It involves the mind, will, and emotions. Jesus went on to say that only the pure in heart will see God. It is one of the simple facts that we see only what we can see, and that is true not only in the physical sense; it is also true in every other sense. On a clear night when I look up in the sky and see the stars, I can’t tell you, their names. But an astronomer can look up at the same sky and tell me the names of the stars and the planets. A navigator can look up at the same sky and bring his ship to the desired location. If I were in an art gallery the chances, are I couldn’t tell you what paintings were worth a lot and the paintings that were junk.
Jesus says it is only the pure in heart who shall see God. It is a warning that only by God's grace can we keep our hearts clean. If our hearts are filled with lust or other impure things, we cannot see God. This beatitude might read; “O the bliss of the man whose motives are absolutely pure, for that man will someday be able to see God” (William Barclay)! The pure in the heart refers to those who are morally unstained, clean, and free from hypocrisy in their relationships with others. These laws reinforced the underlying principles of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), but they went further by extending them to situations beyond the context of the Ten Commandments; Deuteronomy 10:19 says, therefore love the foreigner; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. God continued to demonstrate His love for the people of Israel. Moses spoke of the inner conformity of the heart (mind and emotion) to the Lord as the most important. He also encouraged the people to execute justice for those among them who were less fortunate. He was impartial in His concern for the orphan, the widow, and the alien. It is more likely Jesus meant that the pure in heart see God in the world about them when others are blind; that the pure in heart are aware of the movements of the Divine Will in their lives even amid the pain. The pure in heart are those who are right with God. Those who have a singleness of mind, and sincere obedience to God motivated by fear of the Lord.
James 4:8 says, Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. How do we draw near to God? We do it by confessing our sins. W.W. Wiersbe says, “The Greek word translated purify means to make chaste (pure, not indulging in unlawful sexual activity). It parallels the message in James 4:4. Dr. A. W. Tazor says something that is intellectually deep. He says it is in one of his books titled Nearness is Likeness. “The more we are like God, the nearer we are to God. I may be sitting in my living room with my Siamese cat on my lap, and my wife twenty feet away in the kitchen, yet I am nearer to my wife than to the cat because the cat is unlike me. We have extraordinarily little in common.”
“God graciously draws near to us when we deal with the sin in our lives that keep Him at a distance… He must have complete control. The double-minded Christian can never be close to God… Abraham and Lot come to mind. Abraham “drew near” and talked to God about Sodom (Genesis 18:23 ff), while Lot moved into Sodom and lost the blessing of God. It is possible to submit outwardly (but not inwardly).” (W.W. Wiersbe)
The psalmist says, Psalms 24:4 says, He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and he has not sworn to a lie
BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE MOTIVES ARE ENTIRELY UNMIXED.
HOLINESS ESSENTIALLY DEFINES THE CHRISTIAN’S NEW NATURE AND CONDUCT IN CONTRAST WITH THEIR PRE-SALVATION LIFESTYLE.
YOU SHALL NOT… BEAR ANY GRUDGE… BUT YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF… (Leviticus 19:18).
THE WORD “PURE” OCCURS TWENTY-EIGHT TIMES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, AND TEN TIMES IT IS TRANSLATED AS “CLEAN.”
By C. Paul Wooderson
-All Scripture passages are based on the World English Bible (WEB)-
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: cpaulwooderson.com
(Ret) Southern Baptist Minister
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