Sermon On The Mount Devotional Blog 9

Sermon On The Mount Devotional

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

Read Matthew 5:1-12 (focusing on vs. 8) (ESV)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Of what can we say that something is “pure, really pure? No, I mean spotless!” Your bedroom? Ha, that was meant to be a joke. The kitchen? Hopefully, but probably not. Perhaps your parents, when you were growing up, said, “Clean your plate. Spotless!” But what is really pure and clean? “Pure as the wind-driven snow” is an old expression, but even wind-driven snow has picked up impurities from the air. There was an advertising campaign in years past for Ivory soap. Maybe you have seen it or know of it. Procter and Gamble, the parent company of Ivory, created a soap for their personal care brands and since 1895 this slogan was well known for this soap. They bragged that their soap was “99. 44/100 percent pure”. Pretty good right? Almost completely pure. For a soap this is great. “Almost” is good enough for most of us, when it comes to soap? Right?

But what about for God? Does He accept us when we are almost pure? Does God grade on a curve, accepting 50% or higher? All right, perhaps His standards are greater, say only 90% or above in the area of purity, can be accepted. Or perhaps He has the same standard for purity as the Ivory soap people. He’ll accept those who are 99.44/100 percent pure. Right? Wrong! God’s standard comes from Himself and He is Pure--- 100% pure, undefiled and holy! So much so that it is the only characteristic in the Bible that is stated three times, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!” (Isaiah 6:3) In Scripture, repetition is used to give emphasis or exclamation, in a way we might use an exclamation mark or bold a word or underline it. In the Bible for something to be repeated three times is exceptional. God’s holiness, His purity is unrivaled. And this is the standard for acceptance that we are held to. 100% pure.

How can we get clean? We have this conversation with our kids when it comes time for them to clean their rooms. They will come down after a time and we will ask, “Did you clean your room?” “Sure,” they say. To which we reply, “Clean, really clean? Momma clean?” At which point they will usually return to their rooms with dejected looks on their faces.  We have a hard time trying to meet the standards of our mothers on what is clean. So, how much harder is it with our Heavenly Father? Who among us can measure up to this standard of purity and perfection? No one. So, we have a problem. We cannot meet the standard set, and God cannot lower His own standard. Enter Jesus, the Son of God… the only One to ever live a perfectly righteous, holy (pure) life. And He came to offer His record in our place. He came to live a perfect life and die to pay for the sins of His children. Awesome!

If you were trying to outline the Beatitudes, one writer suggested this order; the first three Beatitudes show how a man must stand in his relationship as a sinner to God - spiritually bankrupt, sorry for his sin, and meekly humble. The fourth Beatitude contains the promise of God’s provision of righteousness for the man who so comes to God. And the last Beatitudes reveal the transformed character of the one who now has been touched by Christ’s Spirit and is being progressively remade in Christ’s image. “According to Jesus the man who has tasted God’s righteousness is to show mercy to others; he is to be pure in heart; he is to be a peacemaker.” (Sermon on the Mount Commentary by Jim Boice, pg. 46)  Those who have had their sins paid for by Christ and who have received the pure and spotless record of the Lord are now called to live as new creations and are enabled by the inworking of the Holy Spirit to live this way.  

Jesus is also here speaking against those who would put forward an outward standard of excellence and perfection without looking at the inside. Later in Matthew 23:25-28 Jesus says,

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

The Pharisees only wanted people to look at their outside actions. They were trying to show a religion of works righteousness, setting a standard that was attainable by human will power. What they misunderstood from God’s Word was that God looks at the heart, from which our thoughts, words and deeds flow. When Jesus says here we are to be pure in heart, the “heart” here refers to our ability to think, feel, and decide. Pure in heart means that not only our minds but our feelings and actions are to be concentrated singly on God. When our hearts are singly focused on the Lord, our actions will flow from this kind of heart. God calls for our whole being, not just our outward behavior, to be focused on Him. When we come to know Christ, we know Him as Savior (of our souls, paying for our sin-tainted being) and our Lord, our lives controlled by the Spirit that we might live for Him.

One writer translates this verse in this way, “Blessed (approved of God) are the pure in heart (those with a clean, unmixed heart for God, given by a relationship with Christ), for they shall (continuously) see God (in life and in eternity).” (Sermon on the Mount by Kent Hughes- pg. 61) They shall live as those with a purity of being.

So, What Now? How comfortable are we with the sin around us? How comfortable are we with the sin in our own lives? Are we relentless in rooting out the sin that so easily entangles? Spend time this week reading over Psalm 51, confessing areas of your life where sin may abound. Ask the Lord to create in you a clean heart and new affections.