Scripture: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 ESV
Observation: Surely, we can only attain the standard of each of the eight beatitudes by the grace of Christ meted through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. But the sixth beatitude places an exclamation mark on this high standard of godly living with the expectation that we will become pure in heart. So what does purity mean in this biblical sense? Based on the breadth of Scripture, we see two elements:
- The moral integration of outward behavior with the inward disposition: Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalms 24:2-4; 51:6, 10; Isaiah 1:10–17; Jeremiah 4:4; 7:3–7; 9:25–26; Romans 2:9; 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22; and, from a negative standpoint, Jesus’ woes to the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:25-28).
- Single-minded devotion to God’s will: Psalms 24:4; 51:4–17; Genesis 50:5–6; and Proverbs 22:11.
Additionally, Solomon shares in his collection of wisdom teachings that “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend” (Proverbs 22:11 ESV). And Solomon’s father, David, exclaims that those with a pure heart who seek the Lord’s face will be blessed (Psalm 24:4-6).
Takeaway: Indeed, both aspects lay the foundation for Jesus’ later teaching point from this Sermon on the Mount: that the eye is the body’s lamp that reveals our spirits’ health (6:22-23). Thus, D.A. Carson contends, “The one who is single-minded in commitment to the kingdom and its righteousness will also be inwardly pure (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, p.135).
But how do we develop a single-minded heart? We don’t, at least we don’t initiate the process. David understood this reality. Having strayed from God’s good graces with acts of adultery and murder, he pleads: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12 ESV). Clearly, this exposed sinner knew the importance of remaining in God’s presence, submitting to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to uphold him with a willing spirit. Hence, God called him a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
The reward? For David and all of us who single-mindedly cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s transformational work of the heart, we will:
- grow in knowledge and obedience to God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:2),
- know the joy of his gift of salvation (Psalm 51:12),
- hone our spiritual vision and see our King at work around and in us (Proverbs 22:11), and
- behold the dazzling brilliance of our King’s face at the consummation of the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:22-27; 22:4).
Truly, blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, King Jesus, who has begun and will complete a good work in us (Philippians 1:6). So would you please help us to cooperate with your Holy Spirit to grow in us pure hearts set on obeying your commands so that we might know the joy of your salvation, hone our spiritual vision, and one day behold your glorious brilliance? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling