Pure in Heart

The Sermon on the Mount (Part 5)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).  Are you pure in heart?  Because of how we hear this verse through condemning ears, we might answer, “It depends on the day.  Some days my heart is kind of pure.  Some days it is awfully dirty.  But even on my best days, I wouldn’t say it is completely pure.  That sounds a bit prideful.”

These thoughts are complicated by preaching that incorrectly hold up these words in Jeremiah as the current description of your heart.  “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  This is describing your old heart, a heart that left the scene when you believed the gospel.

So what does God say about your heart now?  “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).  As Watchman Nee writes in The Normal Christian Life, “The old heart, God says, is ‘desperately sick’, and He must do something more fundamental than cleanse it; He must give us a new one.”  And this is exactly what Christ did.  He gave you a new heart when you believed the gospel.

The pure heart is not a goal to strive for.  It is a promise to claim.  A promise to believe.  A promise to celebrate.  Look at the back end of this promise, “for they shall see God.”  There is absolutely only one way this promise can come true.  Only those with a 100% pure heart will see God.  And this 100% pure heart came to us at our one-time belief in the gospel message of Jesus Christ; His death as our substitute in our place on the cross to take away our sin.

There is no ongoing aspect to this verse.  No in and out of a pure heart.  It is a prophetic statement by Jesus of the pure heart that is coming when we trust Him for salvation.  Our heart is now pure, not by works of righteousness but by the regeneration of the Spirit.  “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6).

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).  He gave you a new heart that is perfect.  Don’t let “perfect” scare you.  We are not perfect in our thoughts or actions.  But our heart is perfect and clean.  “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).  Regarding the Gentiles, Peter said, “and God made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).

So once again, I believe this Beatitude of Jesus is a prophetic word about life in the kingdom of God that Jesus came to usher in.  His promise of a pure heart is for those who will believe in His gospel message.  It is not a plea to constantly check and evaluate the purity of our heart.  It is already clean.  And those who believe, those with a pure heart received freely by grace, can rely on the promise that they will see God.