Brothers and sisters in Christ, grace, peace, and mercy to you. The Bible says that we live in the Last Days. The apostle John says it is the Last Hour. How soon Christ will return, only the Father knows. But in relationship to eternity, it is a blink of an eye that either we will go to Christ or He will come for us. Beloved, how we need to see the eternal things as revealed to us in Christ to keep us steady in this present evil age. (2 Cor.4:18, Mt.28:18-20, Col.3:1-3, Gal.1:4)
Please open up your Bibles to Matthew chapter five. I will read from verse one to verse sixteen.
Matthew 5:1. When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Our study today is the sixth Beatitude in verse eight, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
The Bible says that God has given us an indwelling Counselor to help us understand His word. (I Jn.2:20-21, Jn.14:16-26) We know that our Helper is God the Holy Spirit. So, the One that helps us understand His word is the very One that inspired this word. (2 Tim.3:14-17) Let’s pray now and ask the Holy Spirit to illumine our hearts and minds this morning in His word. Pray.
The blessed life.
God created Adam and Eve to enjoy life with God. They could walk and talk with God. They could ‘see’ God. (Gen.3:8) And then Adam sinned. And God cast them away from His presence. But He left them a promise that in the Promised Seed Savior, Man would once again ‘see’ God and live in sweet communion with Him. The Bible is the promise of the restoration of the blessed life – living with God. (Rev.21:3)
But this blessed life comes only to those found in Christ. (Jn.14:1-11)
If you were older when you were converted to Christ perhaps you remember what you used to think of Christ and of Christians when you were an unbeliever.
In Scripture the apostle Paul writes about this very thing. (I Cor.15:9, Gal.1:23, I Cor.15:9, I Tim.1:11-16)
Acts 22:4. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, 5 as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.
I have no doubt that Paul told his doctor friend Luke about his persecution of Christ and His church as we read about in Acts chapter eight. And then also about his conversion to Christ and service to His church in Acts chapter nine and following.
Paul when he was Saul hated Christ and hated Christians and thought the gospel of Christ was an accursed thing before a holy God. (Jn.16:2) But when God opened Saul’s blind eyes to Jesus and then cleansed him from his sins and self-righteousness by Christ’s blood then Saul became a new man, a blessed man. He became Paul. And Paul knew God and was known by God. (Phil.3:1-14) This is what it means to be blessed. (Jn.17:1-17, 3:1-16)
And this is also what it means to ‘see’ God. It means to have true faith in Him.
Being blessed by God is to be brought into a reconciled and loving relationship with the Triune God with all the manifold blessings that this entails. (Mt.13:9-17, WCF 20.1) Christ is teaching those that leave all and pick up their cross and follow Him that we are blessed by God beyond our wildest dreams. (Mt.10:37-42, Mt.25:13-40, I Cor.2:8-10)
Outwardly we may be low. But in Christ our lives have fallen to us in beautiful places. Our current sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the blessings we enjoy in Jesus. Both in this present evil age and certainly in the age to come. (Ps.16:5-11, Acts 5:41, 2 Cor.4:1-18, Col.1:12, Heb.2:14-18, Heb.12:10, 2 Cor.1:20)
As an aside, I have no doubt that Paul’s memory of his former life of sin and unbelief only magnified the gracious riches he now enjoyed in Christ. (Rom.9:21-23) Think of this Beloved, remember the cursed life of life apart from Jesus. Remember the danger of hell we lived in apart from Jesus. We were in the world without God and without hope. (Eph.2:12-22) And now think, you are forgiven in Him and loved eternally and on your way to see Him! We can sing with John Newton, I once was blind to Christ. But now I see Him. And oh, how I love Him!
Oh how blessed we are! What Christian would trade one minute of God’s love in Christ for a whole world of gold? Not one true Believer. (Mt.16:26)
The safe access.
In this 6th beatitude Christ makes the connection between purity of persons and access to God. This is not a foreign concept to the Jewish people in the audience before Jesus Christ in this Sermon on the Mount. (Mt.5-7, Mt.10:5-7, 15:24, Rom.1:16, 2:9-10)
God Himself separated Israel out from all the other peoples of the earth. By God’s choice Israel was holy to the Lord. (Gen.12:1-3, Gen.17:1-13, Dt.7:1-21, Rom.9:1-8, Rom.11:29, Gal.4:21-31, Jn.4:22)
He did this because of His own gracious goodness and for nothing inherent in Israel. No man, Jew or Gentile, has anything good in himself to move God to choose him. (Rom.3:10-18, Rom.7:18) It is just the opposite. God chooses and then men come near to God. (Acts 13:48, Jn.4:23, Phil.1:29, WCF 3.2, 5)
All of the external rites and sacrifices that granted external cleansing or ceremonial cleansing actually pointed forward to the greater privilege of inward heart cleansing by the blood of Christ. (Heb.9:1-28, 10:1-14, WCF 7.5, 6)
Key. The idea is that once a man is made holy by God, he has access to God.
In the Old Testament the way the people drew near to God was in God’s stated religious ordinances. In this way, the people cleansed by the blood could then ‘see’ God in worship. (Exod.28:36, 30:10, 39:30, Lev.27:14-32, Zech.14:20-21, Lk.2:22-24)
Christ is saying with this beatitude that now with His incarnation and soon to be death and resurrection that we shall be able to ‘see’ God in a more clear and intimate way.
In fact, the very essence of the Gospel of Christ is that it changes our heart, it purifies our heart. And only the gospel can do this. Making us holy, making us fit to live with God.
The definition of the pure heart.
Let’s speak to the idea of true heart purity.
The heart in scripture is the center of our being. The heart includes the emotions, the intellect, and the will. (Ps.86:11, Rev.21:27)
Proverbs 4:20. My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body. 23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. (Prov.27:19, Ps.51:10, 37:4, Jn.14:27)
Jesus says the heart is the source of all sin. Our problem is a heart problem. We are not just good people that do bad things. We are sinful people who only do sinful things. (Rom.3:9-18) Listen to what Jesus says…
Matthew 15:17. Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
Christ teaches that true and acceptable religion is a matter of the heart, heart-purity. (Mt.12:34-35)
Christ is saying we need spiritual heart cleansing. And that all true Believers have this clean heart now in Him.
Our hearts must be pure because the Bible says God dwells in our hearts. (Isa.57:15, I Cor.6:19)
Ephesians 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
Romans 2:28. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Dt.10:16)
Our heart-wickedness must be washed away. (Ps.24:4, I Tim.1:5)
Jeremiah 4:14 Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem, That you may be saved. How long will your wicked thoughts Lodge within you?
Paraphrasing from I John 2:15-17, we must be cleansed from fleshly lusts, we must be cleansed from the pride of life, and we must be cleansed from worldly lusts.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes this insight comment, Christ does not say blessed are the intellectuals. (I Cor.13:1-8, I Cor.8:1) So, Jesus is not teaching, blessed are those people who have a merely intellectual interest in Christ and Christianity. Our head may be filled with facts about Christ. But our hearts must be cleansed.
The blood of Christ.
Christ’s blood cleanses our heart from sin. His blood makes us holy and pure before God.
I John 1:7. 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.
Matthew 26:28. for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 10:19. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 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.
The work of the Spirit.
This Bible also speaks about the work the Holy Spirit effectually applying Christ to us in making our heart pure.
Acts 15:8. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
Romans 5:1. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Heb.10:22)
Heart purity is a pure gift from God. We did not merit it. In fact, we demerited it. (Rom.6:23) We deserved wrath for our impure heart. God did not give us what we deserved. Christ took what we deserved. (Mt.27:46, Gal.3:10-14) God gave us what Christ merited. Amazing grace. (I Cor.4:7, Eph.2:1-9, Rom.11:1-6, Rom.9:6-33)
Ezekiel 36:24. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “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. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. (Ps.51:8-12)
This is what it means to be born-again, to be born by the Holy Spirit.
John 3:1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (I Peter 1:15-25)
God has purified our heart in Christ by the Spirit to enable us to love God and to love Man.
The fruit of the pure heart.
The Biblical scheme of things is first a change the heart and then a change of life or conduct will come. Not the other way around. Change the tree. Then the fruit will coincide. (Mt.12:33, WCF 16.1-5)
Now in Christ God calls us to live a life of holiness. God has elected us in Christ unto holiness. Living holily to the glory of God is the goal of our redemption. (Titus 2:14) Be ye holy as I am holy. (I Peter 1:16)
Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. (Rom.8:29, Eph.4:24, I Thess.1:10, Mt.1:21)
1 Peter 1:18. knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (Ps.73:1, 24, I Tim.1:5, I Pt.1:22, I Cor.13, Gal.5:22, Eph.4:32, 5:1, Phil.2:1-14, 4:8, Col.3:1-17, Jn.4:24)
The snares to the pure heart.
But before we interact with the blessing of seeing God let’s speak to a few false ways of attempting to acquire heart purity. My purpose here is that we would not fall into the snare of the devil and that we would stay in the narrow path of Christ alone as our only hope for life and death. (I Cor.2:11, Eph.6:11, Titus 1:7-11, Mt.7:15, Acts 20:27-32, Heidelberg catechism #1)
Since Christ says His emphasis is on the inward life, beware then of all counterfeit forms of Christianity that place all their emphasis on the outward life, on the externals.
False Purity (which will not see God)
Pharisaism tries to cleanse hearts by the so-called good works of men, often by mere external observance of man-made religious rites and traditions. This form of religion is concerned with cleaning the outside of the cup or putting a good coat of whitewash on a tomb. (Mt.23:13-29, Lk.11:39, Mk.7:1-16, Mt.22:29-32, WCF 16.7, Phil.3:1-13, Col.2:9-23)
This kind of religion is always ready to reduce Christianity to a mere matter of conduct. Along the lines of, we don’t do this or that. Or, we wear our hair this length or our skirts this length, we fast twice a week, we don’t eat meat on Fridays and the like. Therefore, our heart is pure before God. (I Tim.4:1-5, Lk.18:9-14, Mt.23:12-26)
Thomas Watson said morality may damn as well as vice. A vessel may be sunk with gold as well as with dung. You can wash a pig, but it is still a pig. 😊 Conduct does not change a man. Grace alone changes the heart. (WCF 16.5)
A sub-species of Pharisaism is Stoicism. Stoicism tries to cleanse hearts by harsh treatment of the body. (Acts 17:16-34) Its religion is touch not and taste not.
Colossians 2:20. If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)– in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Severity of the body cannot touch the soul. Harsh treatment of the body cannot affect purity in our hearts. Though it has the appearance of religious wisdom. Yet, its wisdom is not from heaven but it is from hell as James says. (James 3:15-17)
The signs of an impure heart.
Let me give you six signs of an impure heart by the English Puritan Thomas Watson.
1. An impure heart is ignorant of sin. 2. An impure heart is ignorance of the truth of Christ’s person and work (of the gospel). 3. An impure heart sees no need of heart purity. (Rev.3:17, Ps.66:18) 4. An impure heart does not believe God’s threats against sin. (Rev.10:3, Ps.68:21, Job 41:29) 5. An impure heart has no faith in God’s word. (Heb.3:12, Ps.78:19, I Jn.5:10), Mk.16:14) 6. An impure heart is covetous and worldly minded. (I Tim.6:10, I Jn.2:15-17, James 4:1-10)
The blessedness of heart-purity.
Now let’s consider the promised blessing that Jesus pronounces upon all those that are cleansed by His blood, we shall see God!
First of all, God is a pure Spirit and as such we cannot see God according to our ordinary eyesight. (I Jn.4:12, I Tim.6:16) The sight we are speaking of is of the heart and of the mind. But in addition, since Christ is God in the Flesh, now we see Christ by faith. Someday we will see Christ by glorified sight. As an aside, the OT saints that ‘saw’ God saw a Christophany or some other Theophany. (Gen.17:1, Exod.33:11)
Think of this. The death of Christ ripped the veil in two giving us entrance into the holy of holies, bring us into the presence of God. Those made holy in Christ WILL see our holy God !!! (Eph.2:12-22)
The pure in heart will see God in this life. The persons who have faith in Christ see God in Incarnate by faith. God the Holy Spirit has given us eyes to see God and ears to hear God. (Mt.13:15, Lk.10:23, Jn.12:40) We ‘see’ and ‘hear’ God as we read His Scripture. We ‘see’ God as we partake of His sacraments. We ‘see’ and ‘hear’ God as we pray to Him. But now in this life we see God dimly.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
The next life.
The pure in heart will see God fully in the next life. Hear our father in the faith, righteous Job.
Job 19:23. Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! 24 “That with an iron stylus and lead They were engraved in the rock forever! 25 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26 “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27 Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!
This is sometimes known as the beatific vision. (2 Cor.3:18, Rev.21:10, Isa.11:9, Ps.17:1, Ezek.14:14-20, James 5:11)
Revelation 22:1. Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Exod.33:20)
Beloved let this promise be your comfort in every trial of this life. Let this promise be your heart’s delight, raising your affections above every earthly thing. Soon you will see God.
- What does it mean to be blessed or blessed by God? (Mt.5:1-12, Mt.13:9-17, WCF 20.1, Mt.10:37-42, Mt.25:13-40, I Cor.2:8-10, Ps.16:5-11, Acts 5:41, 2 Cor.4:1-18, Col.1:12, Heb.2:14-18, Heb.12:10, 2 Cor.1:20)
- How can our former life of sin and unbelief magnify or sweeten the blessings of God we now enjoy in Christ? Do holy angels know the guilt and anguish of personal sin? Do holy angels enjoy the blessedness of salvation? (Acts 22:4, I Cor.15:9, Gal.1:23, I Cor.15:9, I Tim.1:11-16, Jn.16:2, Phil.3:1-14, I Cor.6:9-11)
- In the OT Israel had access to God. They could come near to God. They could ‘see’ God in the religious rites and ordinances. Describe some of the blessings they enjoyed. And what does this teach us? (Mt.5-7, Mt.10:5-7,Rom.1:16, Gen.12:1-3, Gen.17:1-13, Dt.7:1-21, Rom.9:1-8, Gal.4:21-31, Jn.4:22, Rom.3:10-18, Rom.7:18, Acts 13:48, Phil.1:29, Heb.9:1-28, 10:1-14,Exod.28:36, Lev.27:14-32, Zech.14:20-21, Lk.2:22-24)
- Define and describe what it means to have a pure heart? Does Man naturally have a pure heart? How does one acquire a pure heart? How is the heart made pure? (Ps.86:11, Rev.21:27, Acts 15:8-9, Rom.5:1-5, Heb.10:22, Ezek.36:24-28, Ps.51:8-12)
- What kind of life will a pure or a holy heart in Christ produce? Are you producing this life? (Mt.12:33, Titus 2:14, I Peter 1:16-19, Eph.1:4, Rom.8:29, Eph.4:24, I Thess.1:10, Mt.1:21, Ps.73:1, 24, I Tim.1:5, I Pt.1:22, I Cor.13, Gal.5:22, Eph.4:32, 5:1, Phil.2:1-14, 4:8, Col.3:1-17, Jn.4:24, Gal.5:16-26)
- What are some snares to true heart purity in Christ? What are some false ways that men attempt to purify themselves before God? Why do men like these false ways? How do you see these things acquiring a foothold in the church? (I Cor.2:11, Eph.6:11, Titus 1:7-11, Mt.7:15, Acts 20:27-32, Mt.23:13-29, Lk.11:39, Mk.7:1-16, Mt.22:29-32, I Tim.4:1-5, Lk.18:9-14, Mt.23:12-26, Acts 17:16-34, Col.2:20-23, James 3:15-17)
- What are six (or more) signs of an impure heart? (Rev.3:17, Ps.66:18, Rev.10:3, Ps.68:21, Job 41:29, Heb.3:12, Ps.78:19, I Jn.5:10, Mk.16:14, I Tim.6:10, I Jn.2:15-17, James 4:1-10, Heb.3:12)
- Can we see God with our naked eye or our ordinary eyesight? Why? Why not? How did certain OT saints ‘see’ God? (Jn.4:24, Dt.4:12, I Jn.4:12, I Tim.6:16, Gen.17:1, Exod.33:11, Exod.24:9-11, Exod.13:21, Gen.16:7, Gen.32:25-30, Judges 13:12-23)
- How do Believers in Christ ‘see’ God in this life? How does this blessing comfort and motivate you? (Jn.3:16, Rom.5:1-10, Mt.13:15, Lk.10:23, Jn.12:40, I Cor.13:12, I Jn.3:2, Jn.14:1-11, Heb.11:1-33, 2 Cor.5:7, I Cor.15:1-4)
- How do and will Believers in Christ see God in the next life? How does this blessing comfort and motivate you? (Job 19:23-27, 2 Cor.3:18, Rev.21:10, Isa.11:9, Ps.17:1, Ezek.14:14-20, James 5:11, Rev.22:1-5, Exod.33:20)