What it means to have a pure heart

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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

IDEA: When Jesus talks about the “pure in heart,” He is talking about integrity.

PURPOSE: To help listeners realize that only God can make them “pure in heart.”

Do you remember learning long division in grade school?
I remember my apprehension of doing long division in the third grade.

How do you feel about the beatitude that declares, “Blessed are the ‘pure in heart’ for they shall see God”?

I. It is easy to misunderstand what Jesus means by “pure in heart.”

Does He mean “Blessed are the prudish for they shall see God”? Opponents of sexual purity have done an effective job of making those who advocate abstinence before marriage as fun spoilers—the dull, the drab, the prudes of the earth. Is Jesus calling us to be “prudes”?

Does He mean “Blessed are the sinless for they will see God”? What does that do to you?

II. The beatitude echoes a passage from a psalm writing by David (Psalm 24:3-6) that fills out its meaning.

The psalm asks and answers a fundamental question:
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear falsely.
He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
Who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

In this Psalm 24, what are the conditions for who can legitimately stand in God’s presence?

They have “clean hands and a pure heart.” What do you think that means? It involves “truthfulness and an active “seeking” for God’s face.

That denotes integrity, singleness of devotion, undivided loyalty.

D. A. Carson points out that purity of heart must not be confused with outward conformity  to rules.

“This beatitude interrogates us with awkward questions like these: What do you think about when your mind slips into neutral? How much sympathy do you have for deception, no matter how skillful? For shady humor, no matter how funny? To what do you pay consistent allegiance? What do you want more than anything else? To what extent are your actions and words accurate reflections of what is in your heart? To what extent do your actions and words constitute a cover up for what is in your heart?”

Again and again this drives us back to the first beatitudes and the sense that we are poor in spirit and we mourn about it and we must in meekness throw ourselves on God because we hunger and thirst for righteousness.

David who wrote this psalm did that: Psalm 51.