“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
Several years ago the theologian Francis Schaffer posed a very penetrating question when he asked, “How Should We Then Live?” As Christians, how should we live at the beginning of the twenty-first century with its unique pressures and temptations? Different voices have arisen to try to answer that question. There is the voice of licentiousness proclaiming the hedonistic philosophy of life which is to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die. There is the godless philosophy of socialism, and Communism, which subordinates all of life to the servitude of the State. This philosophy offers physical security, but does nothing for the soul. The soul of man desperately needs to be satisfied with something, or someone greater than itself. There is an eternal searching for something, more to life than security, and serving the state. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thee O Lord and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee.” During World War II film footage was even made of Russian soldiers kneeling in the winter snows. They were bowing to their motherland, but they were really searching for God.
Then there is the philosophy of secular humanism, which is taught in all our public schools from the earliest of ages upward. This philosophy sets forth the belief that man is a mere product of time, plus space, plus chance. Since there is no God, since there is no ultimate meaning, or purpose to life, then each individual must determine for themselves what life is to mean. Once, our children were taught that the chief end of man is to know God, and to enjoy Him forever. Now, every person is required to find ultimate meaning to life. The youth are trying to find meaning in violence, and crime, in gangs and gold, and glory. Older people find meaning in materialism.
In contrast to sensual hedonism, self-serving socialism, and ungodly secular humanism, comes the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ calling us to live with a pure heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” The pure in heart are defined in the Bible in three ways.
First, the pure in heart are those who are sincere and honest. They are people of integrity. Job was once asked (Job 2:9) by his friends: “Doest thou still retain thine integrity?” Job answered yes. “I maintain my integrity.”
In recent years a number of religious ministries have been discredited in the eyes of the public because of the lack of personal integrity. Evangelist Luis Palau reminds believers that “integrity and holiness is to touch every area of the believer’s life. ‘Be ye holy,’ means we are called to holiness of life, not merely purity of message.”
The world grows weary of people living contrary to the word that is preached. Charles Spurgeon spoke of a man who preached so well that people said he should never get out of the pulpit. But then he lived so badly that people said he should never enter into the pulpit again.
William Wilberforce, the 19th century British reformer, said, “There is no shortcut to holiness; it must be the business of our whole lives.” There are a number of areas in which God’s people must take special effort to have integrity, and to be holy in order to be pure in heart. We can begin with holiness of spirit. This means there must be a transparent conscience.
The pure in heart cannot function with unconfessed, or unresolved conflicts in their life. There must be a power to godliness, and not just a mere form thereof. There is no room in the church of Christ for those who sin willfully, and without apology. The issue is not money. The issue is not morality. The issue is not circumstances. The issue is integrity, and purity of heart.
When the spirit is pure there is the ability to be right, and to do right. People talk of others provoking them to sin, or to bad behavior, when the real fault lies in their own spirit. Out of the heart comes forth inappropriate responses. Out of the heart comes forth impure thoughts.
Out of the spirit of man comes the allowance of feelings being hurt unnecessarily by being too sensitive. At His trial, Jesus answered not a word. As the pure in spirit are those who are sincere and honest, which results in right behavior, so the Bible declares them to be pure in spirit who seek the glory of God. In all that we do, the glory of God is to be the deepest longing of the heart. Like Moses, we cry, “Lord, show me Thine glory.”
There are far too many religious people in the pulpit, and in the pew, engaged in promoting their own ideas, and programs, instead of promoting the glory of God. This is often the reason why programs fail, and new ideas do not mobilize people into action. There are others who know what the will of God is. They know what is right. They know what is wrong, but they make excuses as to why they will not obey, and bring glory to God.
Holiness of spirit seeks the glory of God, and that leads to a concern with holiness of body and soul. The soul of the saint can be tarnished by many things. It can be tarnished by the love for money. Clement of Alexandria said, “Wealth is like a viper, which is harmless if a man knows how to take hold of it; but if he does not, it will entwine around his hand and bit him. In a materialistic age, many believers have been lured into embracing a health and wealth gospel, where all one has to do is to name something, and claim it in the name of Jesus.”
More than money, the church of Christ needs to regain her integrity, and to have again a good reputation. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”
Besides money, childish immaturity can mark, or tarnish the soul. How? In an exploding temper that “grieves the Spirit” and those all around. I know of no greater sin that is expressed more often than the temper tantrums of professing Christians. The tension that results is literally felt when the verbal bomb shells start to explode. The saints are always grieved when this happens, and so is the Holy Spirit, and that leads to confession of sin, and restoration of fellowship. But the soul is tarnished.
Lack of love can also tarnish the soul. Lack of love is a fruit of pride. Lovelessness is expressed by ignoring those humbler than ourselves, while catering to the rich and the powerful as though they were of more importance to God. Compositeness is another sin which tarnishes the soul, causing roots of bitterness to spring up and defile many.
There is also the sin of intellectual pride, which holds in contempt all others not as gifted. Those who are pure in heart guard their soul and spirit against sin in order to have integrity, and to seek the glory of God.
Billy Graham has been asked in recent years what he would like to be remembered for most in his distinguished ministry. His response is one word: integrity. “I want to be known for having integrity,” he said. He will be remembered for that, and for promoting the glory of God throughout the world.
The third distinguishing mark of being pure in heart is that of embracing the truth. A person can be very moral, and very sincere, and yet be sincerely wrong. He does not know the truth, or he rejects the truth. Jesus said that people must worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Truth is defined by the Bible. All that the Bible teaches on any subject is truth. Therefore, the pure in heart are those who love to dwell on the Bible passages, and to practice the virtues mentioned in the Scriptures in such passages as: 1 Corinthians 13, where true love is explained, Galatians 5:22, and 23, where the fruit of the Spirit is listed, and Philippians 4:8, 9, where the mind of Christ is sought.
Are you sincere? Do you seek the glory of God? Do you love the Word of Truth? The promise is given that the pure in heart shall see God. This promise is for time, as well as for eternity. In time the pure in heart can see God by having their spiritual eyes of understanding opened.
The eyes can be opened to see that Jesus Christ is very God. There came a day when Simon Peter knelt before the Lord Jesus and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”
Up until that day, Peter believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but then came the unveiling that He was more. He was Lord, and He was God. Thomas said, “Lord, show us the Father and it will satisfy us.” Jesus answered, Thomas, “Have I been with you so long and you do not know me.”
Like Peter, Thomas came to know Jesus in a special way. Behind locked doors, in an upper room, Thomas took off his cynical clothes, and believed with all of his heart.
Many centuries ago an intelligent, but illiterate young man heard the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ as he traveled along the caravan routes of the Middle East. Unfortunately, the young man, after much thinking about the way of salvation through faith in Christ, rejected the gospel. The young man did more. Mohammed denounced Christ, and proclaimed himself, not Jesus, to be the last prophet of the one true God, Allah.
A religious bloodbath began that has not abated to this day. Mohammad never did come to know God in Christ. He could have seen God, but was blinded by the god of this world. Have you seen God? Do you know Him? To know God, one must be like Him, and that is only possible by way of the new birth. Unless there is a regenerating work of grace, God remains unknown to the natural heart. People may continue to worship, but they will never know God, for there is no commitment to be like Him.
When God touches a heart, and reveals Himself, the soul awakens first to salvation, and then to sanctification. When God awakens a sinner to salvation He draws that soul with cords of love to see himself, to see Calvary, and to see glory. Isaiah said, “I saw the Lord, high and lifted up.” One day all Christians shall see God more fully in the person of Jesus Christ, either by death, or by resurrection.
F.F. Ullard wrote, “When I in righteousness at last, Thy glorious face shall see, When all the weary night is past And I awake with Thee, To view the glories that abide, Then, shall I be satisfied.”
We ask of all, “Is your heart pure in the sight of the Lord? Will you, have you ever seen God?” Many people have only had an encounter with religion. They have seen preachers. They have seen Sunday School teachers. They have seen worship services. They have seen church buildings, but they have never seen God.
Have you seen God? Do you know what it is to behold the Cross of Calvary, and stand amazed that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should never perish but have everlasting life?
Can you look inside your heart and recognize that sovereign grace has changed your life forever? There must be this understanding. The pure in heart always refers to a converted heart. Joseph Alline, a Puritan minister, wrote that “conversion is not the taking upon us the profession of Christianity. Christianity is more than a name. . . Conversion is not putting on the badge of Christ in baptism… conversion does not lie in moral righteousness.”
In short, conversion does not consist in illumination or conviction, or in a superficial change, or partial reformation. Conversion is nothing less than the sovereign work of almighty God thoroughly changing both the heart and the life so that there is integrity, a longing for God’s glory, and an embracing of Divine truth as revealed in the Bible. Now, answer the question, “Have you ever been converted?”
Dr. Harry A. Ironside told the following story. A man once asked his pastor to preach on the text, Except you be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. The pastor agreed, and began to prepare. He thought to himself, “Let me see, how will I divide the subject? I will divide it this way:
- Conversion: What?
- Conversion: How?
- Conversion: When?
- Conversion: Where?
He thought of conversion – “What? That is easy to explain,” he said to himself. “Conversion is the turning of the heart to God,” and the preacher meditated on that, And then he came to Conversion – How? How is a man converted? “Well, let me see, how was I converted? Why, I don’t know,” he confessed to himself. “I think I’ll pass over that just now.”
He came to the next point: Conversion – When? “Well, one may be converted as a child; as a youth; or, one may be converted in mature years,” he said to himself, but then the thought came constantly to his own mind, “WHEN WAS I CONVERTED? Was I converted when I was a child? I can’t ever remember. Well, was I converted when I was a youth? No, I am sure I was not, for I got far away from God out in the world. No, not as a youth. Was I converted when I came to more mature years? I do not recall.”
And so he passed on to the next point: Conversion – where? It might take place in the home, in the church, or in the Sunday School, or out in the open. God is ready to meet men wherever they may be. Then the thought came to him,
“Where did it take place with ME? Was I converted at home? Was I converted in church? Have I ever been converted?” Suddenly, it came to him with tremendous power, “I am preaching to other people, and I have never been converted myself. I do not know when I was converted. I do not know how I was converted. I do not know where I was converted. I HAVE NEVER BEEN CONVERTED AT ALL!” He preached his own sermon to himself, and got on his knees and told the Lord Jesus that he would trust Him as his Saviour. That was the beginning of a new life, and a new ministry.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” I want you to see God. I want you to seek the glory of God. I want you to know the truth, for the truth shall make you free. May God grant all of us grace by His Spirit to understand and to see Him today.