Blessed Are the Pure in Heart (Matthew 5:8)


“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

Stained glass window at Busbridge Church, Surrey, UK, featuring the words of Matthew 5:8. Photo by Carcharoth, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jesus tells us that the pure in heart shall see God.

Purity is the result of cleansing. The Greek word for “pure” in Matthew 5:8 is καθαρός (“katharos”), which is usually translated as either “clean” or “pure.” It is the source of the English word “catharsis.”

This cleansing is not something we can do for ourselves. King David, Jesus’ ancestor, recognized that he was deeply stained by sin. After committing adultery, deceit, and murder, he wrote Psalm 51. He realized that his heart was corrupt. So, in that song, he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10). God heard, healed, forgave, and restored him. He would live with some of the consequences of his choices, but by God’s grace, Christians and Jews remember him as a man after God’s own heart.

Christians today can rejoice in a more complete cleansing. Through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, we obtain cleansing of our sins:

“… but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9).

Beyond that, we can rely on the indwelling Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts, thoughts, and minds. We must be cleansed if we ever want to see God:

“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully” (Psalms 24:3-4).

The cleansing is thorough. Not only do we need a pure heart, but also clean hands, which can create clean works that flow from a pure heart. We need to be people who will not lift our souls to falsehood. Many Christians are willing to allow the lies of Satan and the deceptions of our culture to conform us to the image of this world; instead, we should let God’s Word renew our minds (Romans 12:2). We need to avoid swearing deceitfully; rather, we should pursue honesty and integrity in every area of our lives.

Let us devote our lives to seeking this purity of heart so that, when the time comes, we can stand face to face with our Lord our Savior:

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

This is not just a friendly suggestion. It is a command, but it is also a promise. The Lord wants to purify our hearts, and He is eager to power-wash our souls if we let Him. He offers us a great reward if we allow Him to do it. We will see God. We will see how His Spirit, mercy, and power can transform our lives. We will see Him transforming the lives of the people to whom we minister. And someday, we will see Him face to face.

What is in your heart now that could be greater than that? What does your innermost being cling to that would hold you back from grabbing all that God has for you?

Give me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no curious thought will turn away from Thee; a noble heart, which no unworthy affection will drag down; a righteous heart, which no irregular intention will turn aside; a firm heart, which no tribulation will crush; a free heart, which no violent affection will claim for its own. Grant me, finally, O Lord my God, intelligence in knowing Thee, diligence in seeking Thee, wisdom in finding Thee, perseverance in trusting Thee, and the confidence of finally embracing Thee. Let me accept Thy punishments as a penance for my sins, and enjoy Thy benefits by grace in this world, and Thy blessedness by glory in the next. Who livest and reignest true God, forever and ever. Amen. (Thomas Aquinas, https://www.fisheaters.com/becomingvirtuous-aquinasprayer.html.)

What might remain in your heart that God wants to cleanse? How have you experienced His cleansing work in your life in the past? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Copyright © 2023 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.


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