Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Beatitudes: The Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

What does it mean to be pure in heart? Something that is pure is not diluted with impurities, but is genuine and true. This who are pure in heart are sincere and single-minded. This is what sets apart Jesus’ path of discipleship from the way of the Pharisees. It demands righteousness in the heart, not merely in externals. There is a purity of heart that is possible for His disciples to attain in this life. Even though it is not a perfect purity, it is a purity which is comprehensive (the whole person), definitive (begun in conversion), and growing (growing throughout this life). The apostle Peter appealed to this purification as a past event with present consequences when he said,
"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…" (1 Peter 1:22-23). 
Why are the pure in heart blessed? They are blessed because "they shall see God." They shall see God's glory and enjoy His favor. Those who are purified in this life shall see the Lord. As Hebrews 12:14 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Even in this life, the pure in heart see God by faith. The saints are transformed by this revelation, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” The vision of the Lord transforms us, making us shine with glory even as Moses’ face shone with glory.

The pure shall more immediately see God when He appears at the end of the age. As 1 John 3:2 says, “we know that when [God] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” They shall see God’s glory in Jesus Christ, as the apostles saw Him on the mountain at His transfiguration.  The pure shall see God’s glory by gaining an overwhelming impression of His true glory, holiness, and love. And then we shall be perfectly purified, transformed according to His purity. No sin shall disrupt our satisfaction in God’s beautiful holiness and love.

Are you pure in heart? Have you purified your heart through faith in the gospel? Have you been born again by the Spirit? Do not expect perfect purity, as if sin did not also dwell within. But have you turned to God without reserve, undergoing a change of heart, so that from the heart you hate sin, love God, and desire holiness?

And as disciples of Jesus, pursue purity of heart. Strive after holiness in soul and body. Religion is not merely an external thing - it is especially a matter of the heart. Reform your actions, but also cultivate the affections and thoughts of the heart. Fight sin and impurity there. Pray for God’s mercy upon your heart, to give you a clean heart, a faithful heart, a pure heart.

If you find this seed of purity begun in your heart, take heart, you are blessed. The seed of grace results in the flower of glory. You shall see God. You shall receive the blessed vision of God in all His glory. You shall enjoy eternal and unbroken communion with God. This communion is begun now - and how good this union is! Yet it shall be even more direct and overwhelming when faith gives way to sight.


For prior posts in this series, see:
1. "The Beatitudes: Introduction"
2. "The Beatitudes: The Poor in Spirit"
3. "The Beatitudes: Those Who Mourn"

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