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

As we come to the sixth “blessing” given here by Jesus, we can see an astonishing promise given to us by our Lord. Before beholding the glory of the promise, let us strive to understand the condition preceding the promise, i.e., “The pure in heart.” Regarding this, let’s take a look at what Christ is not saying, before venturing to understand what He is saying.

What Purity Is Not

What is purity? What does it mean to be pure? No doubt we can name a host of attributes one possesses when deemed as “pure.” If we get our cues from culture, we could deduce that one’s virginity and well-covered body is considered to be the highest form of a pure person’s character. Likewise, if we take our cues from church-culture alone we might be tempted to conform our understanding of purity by how our sister bridles her tongue, selects her movies, esteems particular authors, her devotion to the doctrines of the Church and passion for the purity of the Bride of Christ.

These are all good things and necessary steps towards a life of godliness. Modesty, abstinence, self-control, zeal, and wisdom should be characteristics present in every believer’s life, but this is not the essence of purity for the believer. I would like to take the rest of our time to remind us how great this news is to every person created and to instill gospel-hope where it’s been buried under the weight of shame and guilt, free to pursue a pure life effectively, and bringing glory to the Father.

First, I would like to point out the first component of two that I find to be most helpful in understanding what Jesus is really saying here to His disciples.

The Position of Purity

Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matthew 5:8a)

As with most of Christ’s teachings, the heart is the aim of His grace. It is the place where salvation occurs (Romans 10:9-10), where stones are turned into flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), and from which the mouth speaks (Luke 6:35). Depending upon the heart’s soil, good or bad fruit will be produced. Needless to say, tending to our hearts is critical in the life of the regenerate believer.

The Greek word for “heart” in Matthew 5:8 is “καρδία” (kardia) and is defined as such: “The heart, mind, will. Signifying the inner person, where the will and decision-making faculties exist” (Lexham Theological Workbook). As we consider what Jesus is saying to us, we need to keep in mind what the “heart” truly is—the fountain of desire, thought, and will.

We so often view the words of Christ here as prescriptions, rather than promises. He knows who his audience is and is not amiss to their depravity. For the Son of God to prescribe purity apart from the gospel would imply there is another way by which we can be saved, sanctified, and ultimately glorified. The author of Hebrews is clear that there is a “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Sitting before the disciples is Purity Himself–the fullness of a holy God dwelling among them—proclaiming to them the position granted to all who trust in His righteousness and not their own. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not saying, “Be this, and you get this.” He is saying, “I am this, and you get Me.” These are statements meant to point us away from ourselves and towards our Savior, and through Him, we are offered the great privilege of a pure position before the Father.

The position of purity comes solely by reckoning with our impurity and, by grace alone through faith alone, trusting fully in the cross of Christ for the absolution of our sin, thereby receiving a clean heart. A beautiful exchange: Christ’s purity for our impurity. This is awesome news, friend. Jesus’ spotlessness is attributed to us– His sinless and perfect fulfillment of the law is now freely offered to those who recognize their inability to meet the standard and thrust themselves upon an able Lord for their salvation. We are granted this position in Christ for a purpose, and let’s not miss this glorious promise.

The Promise of Purity

“…for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8b)

Many will pursue purity in hopes of seeing God. Most certainly, there are times in a believer’s life where our sin can cause us to have a darkened understanding and clouded vision, resulting in half-hearted devotion. Think of King David’s fall with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:4) and the sinful pattern that occurred afterwards—deception (2 Samuel 11:6-13), cowardice, and murder (2 Samuel 11:15). Yet, we do not pursue purity “in hopes of seeing GodRather, we have seen God, placed our hope in Him, and have been purified as He is pure (1 John 3:3) and are now free to pursue being transformed into His image as we behold the glory of The Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus is proclaiming the blessing of purity under His Lordship and what follows this purity is a promise that should excite us all, “they shall see God.” For the pure in heart, the greatest thought has to be the thought of seeing their Lord. What does Jesus mean, “for they shall see God”? Christ Himself said that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father (John 14:8-9). Oh, but we are still in these bodies of death awaiting the resurrection of our glorified bodies! Indeed, God has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Yet even still, as we consider our God who dwells in inapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16), right now we know only in part, but soon we shall know fully and see clearly The Lord before us (1 Corinthians 3:12).

R.C. Sproul, in answering the question of what this coming-revelation would be like, refers to Jonathan Edwards’ insight on this subject. He writes, “According to Edwards, the ultimate vision of God will be one that takes place without the eyes. It will be a direct and immediate apprehension by the human soul of the very essence of God—a completely and dramatically transcendent mode of perception. All of the barriers that prevent our seeing God will be removed, and we will be filled in our souls with direct, immediate apprehension of God.”

Filled in our souls, consumed with His glory, and every ounce of self-denial for the sake of knowing Him will be worth it. This is the position and promise granted to every Christian who hopes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 “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 will see Him as he is. And everyone who hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure”(1 John 3:2-3). In this we trust, and we can be confident that our hope in the gospel, our faith in the Son, will not put us to shame (Romans 5:5).

What a promise for us to hold tightly to amidst a “crooked and perverse generation” among whom we now have the ability to “shine as lights” (Philippians 2:15). And when you fail to walk as Christ did, dear friend, be reminded Whose purity has been ascribed to you, Whose blood justifies you (Romans 5:9), and call to mind your position before the Father; the great blessing of His promise to you. Happy is the Christian whose heart is pure…for they shall see God.

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