Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 (ESV)
The Jewish religious leaders during the time of Jesus observed many ordinances that pertained to cleansing and washing. In observing such rituals they believed that they would find favor with God and be rewarded with eternal life. Instead of the applause they longed for, they often found themselves the recipients of the rebukes of Jesus (Matthew 23:25-28). Jesus stood in direct opposition to the religious leaders of his day. While they paid attention to outward ceremonial and external morality, Jesus was focused on the inward cleansing and purity of the heart.
One wonders how the religious leaders missed such an important concept as purity of heart in one’s quest to see God. The idea was not new with the coming of Christ, it was written for them in the Psalms. David wrote, Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3-5 ESV) Asaph wrote, Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. (Psalm 73:1 ESV)
The New Testament writers continued with the teachings of Jesus on the necessity of a pure heart. Paul wrote, So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV) The Greek word for pure in Matthew 5:8 means clean. Paul uses a similar word when he exhorts the Corinthians, Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV) And James exhorts, Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8 ESV)
To have a pure heart means to have a pure mind, motives and principals. It means to have an inward purity that affects the outward actions. This purity of heart derives from having the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience and having the soul purified by obedience to the truth (Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 1:22). A person who is pure in heart strives to live a life of holiness by shunning impure thoughts, motives and actions.
The blessing for those who are pure in heart is that they will see God. In other words they will clearly discern God, they will perceive God and behold him (Matthew 13:16-17). According to Adam Clarke this “seeing God” is a Hebraism that signifies a possessing of God and enjoying happiness in God. Seeing God is the reward of a life of holiness (Hebrews 12:14). And John encourages us, Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2 ESV)
Are you pursuing a pure heart?
Scriptures for meditation:
John 3:3; 9:41
1 John 3:6
3 John 1:11