9/8/07 “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8
INTRODUCTION – Last week we began our discussion of this verse by first of all admitting that most of us are greatly sobered by just reading it. Then I read a couple of quotes from two of my favorite commentators on the Sermon on the Mount, both of whom admitted they too felt this emotion upon first glance at this kingdom principle.
We then spent the rest of our time talking about two things. First, how desperate our need is to see God. And second, what happens when we do see God – – noting that nothing we will ever see or experience in this life will impact us like seeing God does.
Perhaps one of the loudest megaphone messages we get from the scriptures is that much of our pain, torment, fear, anger, bitterness, confusion, and paralysis of faith comes from the lack or neglect of seeing God. One of these days I am going to do a search with my concordance of how many times God rebukes His people for not seeing or hearing Him when He came or spoke. One of those is found in Isa. 50:2 where God says to His complaining, blaming, and thus downtrodden people, “Why was there no man when I came? When I called why was there none to answer?”
The Living God of the Universe said of Himself through the prophet Jeremiah, “Am I a God who is near, declares the Lord, And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him? Declares the Lord. Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? Declares the Lord.” (Jer. 23:23,24) In other words – He is a God who is near, and not a God far off. He is a God who sees and speaks and who wants to reveal Himself to us. He wants us to see Him – in the midst of every circumstance and trial and challenge we find ourselves in. But the reality is, we often do not see Him, and thus we spin out in fear, anxiety, blaming and complaining, spiritual paralysis, and a host of other resulting emotions and reactions.
Why is it so difficult to see God in all of His glory and majesty in the midst of life’s craziness? How is it, that we can we come to church and worship and pray together and sense Him in our midst and experience Him cleansing our hearts and restoring our faith and vision, and yet when we leave – so quickly lose sight of Him? Many Christians know and believe what the Bible says about this great God that we worship; But in our daily lives, often they speak of their experience as if there is a massive door without a window that blocks their view of and experience of God and leaves them discouraged and depressed and often bewildered. Perhaps what we need is a key that will unlock that door that I believe the evil one lives to erect between us and our God.
Fortunately our Lord Jesus has revealed to us what that key is. Let’s look at our verse again. What’s the key folks? (purity of heart)
I. The key to opening the door to see God in all of life’s circumstances is personal and corporate purity.
Wonderful! I was hoping the key might be one I had a shot at obtaining and using!….
Purity of heart! Would you like a little insight into the world that I am called to be pure in??
Well it starts with gross dreams that I sometimes have while I am sleeping. Then I wake up and while showering and shaving – out of the blue I have flasbacks of impure things I have either partaken of or at least seen or heard of in my past.
Then I check my email before I run off to work and one of my old friends or sometimes a relative sends me an email that is the latest lewd joke about Hillary Clinton or something equally unedifying. I have to admit I often initially chuckle, but then I feel guilty for doing so.
Then I glance at the newspaper and notice the latest newsflash about the latest politician or actor or athlete caught in some act of immorality – sometimes with vivid details.
Then I jump in my car to drive to work and while searching for a station to give me an updated weather report, I stumble on a station where two male DJ’s are joking about the drunken party they attended the night before.
Then I get to my office, get settled at my desk, and then run off to a staff meeting where one of the younger prettier secretaries is wearing clothes that shouldn’t be legal in a corporate office! And it’s only 9:30 in the morning!!
Jean Rostand – the French biologist and philosophical writer of the 20th century had this to say about the futility and utter impossibility of trying to be pure in today’s world. “We are not naïve enough to ask for pure men; we ask merely for men whose impurity does not conflict with the obligations of their job.”
A. Personal purity – We spend a lot of time alone or away or separated from the body of Christ. God wants us to learn to see Him when we are alone, and when we are separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ. He wants us to have a clear vision of Him when we are in the midst of spiritual darkness. Purity of heart enables us to do that. Purity of heart enables God’s revelation pipeline of His glorious self to flow unhindered, wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
Definition: 3 different greek words translated pure in N.T.; katharos Vines Exp. Dict. – pure as being cleansed; Bauer, Gingrich & Danker’s Greek & English Lexicon = clean, pure.
Example of the Apostle Paul: I Tim. 1:5 I Tim. 3:9 II Tim. 1:3 II Tim. 2:22
Now Paul never said I am godly or holy or righteous or spiritual. Never said “I have arrived”. In fact in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, which we believe was the next to last letter he wrote before he was killed, he said of himself in chapter 1 vs. 15, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (chief of sinners)
In the world of substance abuse, people often refer to one another as to whether they are clean. In that context “clean” means not having used the substance – whatever that substance might be.
In the world of dealing with people who are often getting into trouble and who have a problem with lying, “coming clean” means to tell the truth and not try to hide the truth about whatever they did.
In Matthew 5:8 being pure or clean has nothing to do with perfection. It has everything to do with having dealt with whatever sin you have committed in a way that is pleasing to the Father. If you scold someone in your family with an edge that really is more of a result of your not having worked through your own issues and angst, rather than their offense, and you hear the Holy Spirit convicting you of that, and you later go find that person and apologize for your inappropriate edge or anger, then you have come clean with God, and that door between you and Him is wide open once again.
Dr. Louis Barbierri in his commentary on Matthew says, “The pure in heart are those who are inwardly clean from sin through faith in God’s provision, and a continual acknowledging of their sinful condition.” I would add confession of specific sins.
B. Corporate purity – Please remember Jesus spoke these words to a group of disciples, whom He was training to operate as a unit, a team, and as a spiritual family or community.
One of our objectives when we come together in any setting should be to encourage each other to experience cleansing, and to deal with our sin. Hebrews 10:22 (see context vs. 19-22) I John 1:5-7
Usually our disappointment with how a small group meeting or any gathering of believers goes is because the folks attending were unwilling to relate on this level.
Example of how lack of purity in a gathering can prevent fellowship: How are you? Great, excellent, fabulous…If I was any more blessed I would burst! (now if this is really true, and that is how you truly feel, then there is nothing wrong with saying that). But in this persons’case, we know things aren’t that great and excellent and fabulous – – I mean we live in a small town…Like it or not, there are not many secrets here. Especially the longer you live here and the more people you know, and the more you know about where people live, and what cars they drive, and what their children are doing, and where they work, etc.
Example of how fellowship can help us develop a pure heart: Let’s say I go to Thursday night prayer meeting and as we usually do – in the beginning we kind of all share our hearts together. And one of the attendees, who usually attends these meetings, shares that the Holy Spirit led him to go next door and talk to his neighbor about the Lord – even though this neighbor drives him crazy with his loud music playing at all hours of the day and night. While listening to this person share I realize that I had grown so offended by my neighbor’s dysfunction, that I had developed a hard heart towards him and had not intention of talking to him about the Lord. Now if I hear the Holy spirit talking to me through him and his experience, and I heed it by softening my heart towards my neighbor and being willing to be God’s instrument to minister to him, then I have obtained purity and can use that key to open the door to God’s ongoing revealing of Himself to me.
C. The Matter of the heart Prov. 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Matt. 7:20-23 “out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts..”
Matt. 12:34 “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” For the Jews, even their religious leaders, purity was all outward, ceremonial, ritualistic. It had to do with physical things like the washing of hands, and not being around sinners, especially women and Gentiles and Samaritans and Tax Gatherers.
The enemy, who created religion, knows how to train us to do all the right things – all the things that are appropriate and accepted in the religious world or establishment – all the while neglecting the matters of the heart, and ignoring the fact that our heart has grown cold towards certain people – perhaps our own family members – and we have just conveniently learned to push under the rug little things like snapping at one another, and making fun of one another in a sarcastic cutting way, and reacting defensively whenever someone tries to help us see the need to correct something in our lives that is not becoming of one who is bought with a price, crucified with Christ, and called to represent Him to a lost and broken world.”
D. So how can we pursue after this purity of heart – this ongoing cleansing from our sin? 1. If you are not convinced of the unending mercy of God towards you, and how ready and anxious He is to forgive you, get this under your belt immediately! Psalm 32:1,2 “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 86:5 Lamentations 3:22,23 I John 1:9 For years I listened to Satan’s voice who kept whispering in my ear, “You can’t get forgiveneness that easy. You need to grovel first. And besides you know you will probably turn right around and commit this sin again. He knows you are not serious.”
A.W. Pink says in his commentary, “The truth is that one of the most conclusive evidences that we do possess a pure heart is the discovery and consciousness of the remaining impurity that continues to plague our hearts.”
2. If you do not understand the righteousness of God that has been imputed to you through the blood of Christ, get this under your belt immediately! Instead of giving you verses for this one, I’m going to suggest a book – “The Passion of Jesus Christ” – 50 Reasons Why He Came to Die by John Piper. Chapters are small – you can read one a day. Lock on to the verses in that book that help you.
3. Slow down and look in the mirror. It is true that you can be rushing to a meeting at work or a class at school, and the Holy Spirit will convict you of some sin you just committed. Maybe you drove like an idiot to work or school because you were late – and you confess it right there, and fellowship with God is restored, and the revelation pipe line starts to flow again unhindered. But there needs to be a time every day where you stop your frenetic pace for the express purpose of listening to the Holy Spirit as He reveals a blind spot, or an area He wants you to change. Psalm 119:59,60
4. If you are married, get better at listening to and heeding your spouse. If you are still living at home, get better at listening to and heeding your parents. Children/young people – a lot of us adults struggle to listen to the loving correction or suggestions from our spouses, because we never learned to listen to and heed the correction and instruction and suggestions from our parents, and teachers, and coaches. Defensiveness and arrogance and hard heartedness starts in the home as a child. Teachableness and humility starts in the home as a child or young person. If you do not turn from this relationship destroying characteristic (that is defensiveness, arrogance and hard heartedness) now, I can promise you it will only get worse as you go on, and will cause great heart ache to your future spouse.
5. Revelation 3:15-22. Does anyone remember where Jesus talks to His church about the door between experiencing His presence and having fellowship with Him, and what to do about it?
Conclusion: Remember the blessed part – joy – – this is His heart and our inheritance. God has never wanted a door without a window between you and Him. Psalm 32 begins and ends with joy and rejoicing because of the forgiveness of sins God has provided to make our relationship with Him work.