THE PURE IN HEART: makarioi oi
katharoi te kardia:
(Mt 23:25-28; 1Chronicles 29:17, 18, 19; Psalms 15:2; 18:26; 24:4;
51:6,10; 73:1; Proverbs 22:11; Ezekiel 36:25, 26, 27; Acts 15:9;
2Corinthians 7:1; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 9:14; 10:22; James 3:17; 4:8;
Charles Simeon writes that...
THERE is nothing in which
mankind more generally imagine happiness to consist than in the
uncontrolled indulgence of their passions. It is probable that among
those who looked for the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom, many
pleased themselves with the idea, that his victories would open to them
a way for multiplying captives to any extent, and consequently for the
unlimited gratification of their corrupt appetites. To counteract such
absurd notions, and to evince the spiritual nature of his kingdom, our
blessed Lord declared, that happiness was to be found, not “in
assimilating” ourselves to the brute creation, but in purity of heart
and life: “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” (Matthew
5:8 Purity of Heart)
Do you remember the name, Yuri
Gagarin...the year was 1961 and this Russian cosmonaut was the first
human to travel into space. After circling the earth, he came back and
declared that he looked outside his capsule and didn’t see God anywhere.
To which Dr. W. A. Criswell replied,
“Let him step out of his space
suit for just one second and he’ll see God quick enough.”
"Blessed are those who are
pure, not only on the
surface but in the center of their being and at the source of every
(Lloyd-Jones, D. M.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
William Barclay picks up the
thought of the Greek word for pure (see katharos below)...
Blessed is the man whose motives
are always entirely unmixed (cp 1Co 4:5), for that man shall see God.
(Matthew 5 Commentary
- Daily Study Bible online)
has put this beatitude to hymn...
I Hunger and I Thirst
Blest are the pure, whose hearts are clean
From the defiling powers of sin;
With endless pleasure they shall see
A God of spotless purity. (Play
Jesus' words in Matthew 5:8
answer the question
"How does a man or woman
means spiritually prosperous, independent of one's circumstances because it is a
state bestowed by God and not a feeling felt. Fortunate, approved of
God, happy independent of happenings. The Amplified Bible has this
expanded definition for "blessed"
happy, enviably fortunate, and
spiritually prosperous—possessing the happiness produced by the
experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation
of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions"
Bible - Lockman)
(katharos) means literally physically clean or pure and has the idea of
unsoiled (free from dirt), unalloyed, without blemish, spotless, free from
impure admixture or free from adulteration.
was used in a ritual sense of food that was declared undefiled and thus
acceptable (cf Ro 14:20-note). In a moral or spiritual sense as used here by
Jesus, katharos means to be free from corrupt desire or wrongdoing (sin and guilt)
and thus pure or good in God's eyes (cf John 13:10 where Jesus was
speaking figuratively, teaching that one who has been entirely cleansed,
regenerated, possessing a new heart, born again, does not again need a
radical renewal, but only needs to be cleansed from sins into which he
falls each day, cf 1Jn 1:9). Katharos is to be free from admixture of
what is false thus conveys the ideas of genuine, blameless or
As used in Mt 5:8, katharos
describes a heart which is pure in motive and which
exhibits single mindedness, undivided devotion and spiritual integrity.
The idea is "This one thing I do" (as Paul said in Php 3:13
So although, "pure in heart" includes the ideas of moral purity or
freedom from sensuality, that is not the primary idea in the word
katharos. Pure (katharos) has to do
with attitudes, integrity, and singleness of heart as opposed to
duplicity and double mindedness (cf Jas 4:8-note). Thus, one might
paraphrase Jesus' words in this beatitude as...
I desire a heart that is unmixed
in its devotion and motivation.
Katharos gives us our
English word catharsis which is used to describe a cleansing of one's
mind or emotions.
Kent Hughes illustrates
this idea of single mindedness writing that
Negatively, we can imagine this idea
from everyday life if we reflect on those people who, having been
introduced to us, keep talking and smiling, while at the same time
looking behind and around us at other people and things. They really are
not interested in us; they only see us as objects or a means to an end.
In the God-man relationship such behavior is scandalous. Positively
stated then, "pure" is represented by the words focus, absorption,
concentration, sincerity, and singleness. "Blessed are the pure" is a
searching statement, because focusing on God with a singleness of heart
is one of the biggest challenges to twentieth-century Christians. Very
few in this frenetic age are capable of the spiritual attention this
Beatitude calls for. (Hughes, R. K.
Sermon on the Mount: The Message of
the Kingdom. Crossway Books)
MacArthur writes that
was often used of metals that had
been refined until all impurities were removed, leaving only the pure
metal. In that sense, purity means unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated.
Applied to the heart, the idea is that of pure motive-of
single-mindedness, undivided devotion, spiritual integrity, and true
righteousness. Double-mindedness has always been one of the great
plagues of the church. We want to serve the Lord and follow the world at
the same time. But that, says Jesus, is impossible (cf Mt 6:24-note, Jas
Jas 4:8-note)... Christians have the right heart motive concerning God. Even
though we often fail to be single-minded, it is our deep desire to be
so... Paul’s deepest spiritual desires were pure, although the sin
dwelling in his flesh sometimes overrode those desires. Those who truly
belong to God will be motivated to purity... The deepest desire of the
redeemed is for holiness, even when sin halts the fulfillment of that
desire... Purity of heart is more than sincerity. A motive can be
sincere, yet lead to worthless and sinful things... Sincere devotees
walk on nails to prove their spiritual power. Others crawl on their
knees for hundreds of yards, bleeding and grimacing in pain, to show
their devotion to a saint or a shrine. Yet their sincere devotion is
sincerely wrong and is completely worthless before God. The scribes and
Pharisees believed they could please God by such superficial practices
as tithing “mint and dill and cummin”; but they “neglected the
weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness”
(Mt 23:23). They were meticulously careful about what they did
outwardly but paid no attention to what they were inwardly...Even
genuinely good deeds that do not come from a genuinely good heart are of
no spiritual value. Thomas Watson said, “Morality can drown a man as
fast as vice,” and, “A vessel may sink with gold or with dung.”
Though we may be extremely religious and constantly engaged in doing
good things, we cannot please God unless our hearts are right with Him.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press this
resource is highly recommended. Read his entire discussion on purity of
heart) (See also online
Happy are the Holy Matthew 5:8)
The TDNT sums up the usages
of katharos as pertaining to...
physical, religious, and moral
cleanness or purity in such senses as clean, free from stains or shame,
and free from adulteration... In Primitive Religion. Ideas of power are
dominant in primitive thinking about cleanness. After coming into
contact with power, e.g., in birth, sex, and death, cleansing is
necessary to fit one for ordinary life...In Greek Religion. At its
primitive stage Greek religion follows the customary pattern. At the
historical stage, however, the gods are seen as friendly forces, though
they must be approached with cultic purity....The Old Testament
reflects the same general development. Uncleanness, which may be
contracted in contact with birth or death (Lv 12:1ff; Nu 19:11), is a
positive defiling force. So is anything linked to a foreign
cult...Stress also falls, however, on the holiness of God, so that the
concept of purity develops with special force. Purifications by washing,
sacrifice, or transfer restore forfeited purity and open up access to
God. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W.
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.
Grand Rapids, Mich.: W. B.
In classical Greek katharos
described a river who course was "clear and open". In a moral or ethical
sense the Greeks used katharos to describe one "clear from
shame", "clear of guilt", of persons who purified after pollutions (even
to the pagan Greeks touching a dead body cause one to be polluted).
Katharos legally described one's state of being "clear of or from" a
charge. Katharos was used to describe water which was "clear of
admixture" and so "clear" or "pure". It was used to describe an
individual's birth as "pure" or "genuine" and thus "citizens who were of
pure blood". Herodotus used katharos to describe "the
sound portion of the army", that is, that portion which was without
blemish. The phrase "with clean hands" equated with "honestly".
Katharos is used far more
frequent in the
- 135 times! The first 8 uses describe "clean" animals (cf
Ge 7:2, 3, 8, 8:20), "pure" gold (cf the components inside God's
Ex 25:11,17, 29, 31, 36, 38, 39)
of Genesis 20:5 we find a very interesting use of katharos.
Abimelech had not gone into Sarah (who Abraham had lied about as being
his sister) and so when confronted by God in a dream declared...
Genesis 20:5: "Did he (Abraham) not himself say to
me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my
brother.' In the
= katharos for
the Hebrew =
= completeness, the quality or state of being complete or undivided as
in our English term integer. Study the 7 uses in
and uses in
and see if they don't relate
to "purity of heart" as in this beatitude)
of my heart
and the innocence of my
hands I have done this." 6 Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I
know that in the integrity
you have done this, and I
also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch
her." (Genesis 20:5-6)
Here is another interesting use of
katharos in the
translation of Leviticus 7:19 (cf Lev 10:10, 11:36-37, 47, in
fact 33 total uses of katharos for
- see below - in the book of
'Also the flesh that touches anything
unclean shall not be eaten; it shall be burned with fire. As for other
flesh, anyone who is clean (LXX
= katharos for
= describes pure, clean
animals and also that which is unalloyed) may eat such flesh.
Comment: The Hebrew
or "Clean" most frequently described the purity maintained
by avoiding contact with other human beings, abstaining from eating
animals, and using things that were declared ceremonially clean.
Conversely, cleansing results if ritual procedures symbolizing the
removal of contamination are observed. This latter "science" the
Pharisees had made into an "art" with their emphasis on the external at
the expense of the internal! Mt 5:20
(note). The Pharisees liked the idea of
“Blessed are the pure” as long as the statement stopped right there
because they were the resident experts in outward purity. They had
innumerable rules and regulations covering what you ate, what you wore,
how far you could walk in the Sabbath, and so on. They scored an "A+" on
being outwardly pure. But they flunked out on inward purity. To them
this beatitude would be something like...
"Blessed are the outwardly clean, for
they shall see God."
Jesus turned the tables on the
Pharisees using their own vocabulary! To be pure in body is good. But to
be pure in heart is best of all because it takes care of the external
(in the right way). If you are pure in your heart, you will be pure
everywhere. To be pure in heart then means to be pure from the inside
Look at Jesus' scathing pronouncement
against the external purity without heart purity as practiced by the Pharisees in Mt 23:25-26, 27-28 declaring...
"Woe to you, scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean (verb form katharizo) the
outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside (their hearts
were not pure) they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.
26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean (verb form katharizo)
the inside (first believe what your prophets wrote about "inner
cleansing" = Ezekiel 36:26, 27; 11:19, 20, 18:31, cf Deut 30:6, Jeremiah 31:34,
32:39, 40, Acts 15:9, 1Peter 1:22, 23),: of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may
become clean also.
27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like
whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside
they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
(akathartos - derived from the negative of katharos)
28 "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you
are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Two more uses of katharos
are instructive, both in
psalms by David (cf Acts 13:22)...
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the
LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and
who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn
deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4) (See
(command - David came "boldly" to the throne - the only way he could
have done so is by knowing the One through Whom He had such bold access
to the Father!) in me a
= katharos for
= describes pure, clean
animals and also that which is unalloyed)
O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10) (See
Finally in Ezekiel God promised
that one day in the future (to be completely fulfilled at the return of
Messiah at the end of the Great Tribulation)
Then I will sprinkle clean
water on you, and you will be clean (LXX
= verb from
katharizo > English "cathartic"); I will cleanse (katharizo)
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.
Katharos is the source of the
English word catharsis, meaning purifying or cleansing. It is
akin to the Latin castus from which we derive the word pure.
As alluded to above, from a biblical standpoint the
concept of cleansing was deeply rooted in both the Old
Testament, especially the Torah (the first five books of Moses). Under the
Levitical laws heavy emphasis was placed on ceremonial cleansing. This forbade contact with
substances, persons, or places. By the time of Christ this preoccupation
with ceremonial cleanness had largely displaced true worship
in Spirit and truth. Thus in this beatitude Jesus focuses in on a clean
rather than on ceremonial cleanness.
Charles Hodge rightly
“Whenever true religion declines, the
disposition to lay undo stress on external rites is stressed."
William Barclay explains
that katharos but also had several meanings that help understand its use
in this beatitude...
(i) Originally it simply meant
clean, and could, for instance, be used of soiled clothes which have
been washed clean.
(ii) It is regularly used for
corn which has been winnowed or sifted and cleansed of all chaff.
In the same way it is used of an army
which has been purged of all discontented, cowardly, unwilling and
inefficient soldiers, and which is a force composed solely of
first-class fighting men.
(iii) It very commonly appears
in company with another Greek adjective—akēratos. Akēratos can be used
of milk or wine which is unadulterated with water, or of metal which has
in it no tinge of alloy.
So, then, the basic meaning of
katharos is unmixed, unadulterated, unalloyed. That
is why this beatitude is so demanding a beatitude. It could be
translated: Blessed is the man whose motives are always entirely
unmixed, for that man shall see God. So, then, a pure heart is a heart
whose motives are absolutely pure and absolutely unmixed.
(Katharos) it is commonly used
in housing contracts to describe a house that is left clean and in good
condition. But its most suggestive use is that katharos is used of that
ceremonial cleanness which entitles a man to approach his gods.
Impurity, then, is that which makes a man unfit to come before God, the
soiling of life with the things which separate us from him. (Matthew 5 Commentary
- Daily Study Bible online)
Ray Pritchard gives us an
excellent practical definition of purity of heart explaining that
Pure gold is not clean
gold but 100%. Pure bread is all bread and no
leaven. Pure water means that all the harmful elements have been removed
by filtration. Some of you will remember when Ivory Soap advertised
itself as being “99 and 44/100ths percent pure.” But in truth, anything
less than 100% is not really pure! In this context being “pure in
heart” means to have no double allegiance. Later on in the Sermon
on the Mount Jesus warned against serving God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).
No one can serve two masters at the same time. You will always love one
and hate the other. And James 1:6-8 teaches us that the
double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
To be pure in heart means that you are sincere, transparent and
without guile. What you see is what you get. No fakery, no trickery, no
hypocrisy. I still remember hearing one of my Greek professors in
seminary speak about Dr. John Walvoord, who was then the president of
Dallas Seminary. He said, “You never have to wonder what Dr. Walvoord
really means or if he’s trying to send you a double message. He is man
without guile.” That statement has stayed with me across all these years
because he’s the only man I’ve ever heard described in those terms. That
statement reminds me of something I heard many years ago. A counselor
said that he often tells his counselees, “You’re only as sick as your
secrets.” The more you have to hide, the sicker you are. And if you’ve
got a lot of secrets, you’re really sick.
Is your life an open book? Or do you have things that you hide from your
best friends and from your loved ones? Is there anyone in your life who
knows the truth about who you really are? Blessed are the pure in
heart, for they have nothing to hide. (Matthew
5:8 The Tragedy of Double Vision)
We must understand that God is far
more interested in what we ARE than in what we DO for God.
If what we are does not please His holiness, than what we do is
virtually worthless. (cf 1Sa 16:7)
In his first letter to Timothy
Paul wrote that (in contrast to the false teachers)...
the goal of our instruction is love
from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1Ti 1:5)
To have a pure heart
fellowship and be accountable to those who have one...Paul says it this
way (in his last written communication to Timothy)...
Now flee from youthful lusts, and
pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the
Lord from a pure (katharos) heart. (see note
2 Timothy 2:22)
As yet we know Thee but in part;
But still we trust Thy Word,
That blessčd are the pure in heart,
For they shall see the Lord.
O Savior, give us then Thy grace
To make us pure in heart,
That we may see Thee face to face
Hereafter, as Thou art.
---John M. Neale (play)
[word study]) is used figuratively most often in Scripture
and refers to the center of each persons thoughts (mind) and will (see
note by MacArthur below). The heart usually is more general referring to
the inner person, the center of life, the volitional center of our
being. The heart is the seat and "master control center" of human life.
It is the center of your personality, the “real you” who makes the
decisions of life. Thus, to be pure in heart is to be pure in the center
of your life.
Jeremiah reminds us that
unfortunately it is the heart that is source of all our troubles for...
"The heart is more deceitful than all
else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?' (Jeremiah 17:9)
Jesus echoes Jeremiah's
assessment of the heart reminding us that...
"out of the heart come evil thoughts,
murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
These are the things which defile the man" (Matthew 15:19,20)
Why is the state of one's heart
In the Old Testament here are just a few reasons...
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not
look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have
rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward
appearance, but the LORD looks at the
(1 Samuel 16:7) (cf Acts 13:22 "...'I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse,
A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.' = single
minded devotion and integrity just as Jesus calls for in this Sixth
Beatitude) (Reputation is what others think about me. Character is what
God knows is true of in my heart!)
"For the eyes of the LORD move to and
fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose
is completely His..." (2Chronicles 16:9)
Watch over your
with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23-see
There is a certain "blessedness"
inherent in the consciousness of a pure heart. (cf clean conscience -
suneidesis) A consciousness of a pure
heart is a personal awareness of purity in our life. O the blessedness
of those with a pure heart, the control center for all of your life.
God is far more interested in what
we ARE than in what we DO for God. If what we are does not please His
holiness, than what we do is virtually worthless. The heart is the center of the
inner life of the person where all the spiritual forces and functions
have their origin
...came to denote man’s entire mental
and moral activities, and to stand figuratively for the hidden springs
of the personal life, and so here signifies the seat of thought and
commenting on kardia writes that...
"While we often relate heart
to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it
primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil
thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness,
slanders,” Matt 15:19). That’s why you must “watch
over your heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23-see
note). In a secondary way, however, heart relates to
the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If
you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn
will affect your emotions." (Drawing Near. Crossway Books)
MacArthur adds that "In most modern
cultures, the heart is thought of as the seat of emotions and
feelings. But most ancients—Hebrews, Greeks, and many others—considered
the heart to be the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking,
and wisdom. The New Testament also uses it in that way. The heart
was considered to be the seat of the mind and will, and it could be
taught what the brain could never know. Emotions and feelings were
associated with the intestines, or bowels." (MacArthur, J:
Ephesians. Page 44. Chicago: Moody Press
) (Bolding added)
FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD:
hoti autoi ton theon opsontai (3PFMI):
(Genesis 32:30; Job 19:26,27; 1Corinthians 13:12; Hebrews 12:14; 1John
3:2,3 - see notes
BLEST ARE THE PURE IN HEART
Blest are the pure in heart,
For they shall see our God;
The secret of the Lord is theirs;
Their soul is Christ’s abode.
The Lord, who left the heavens
Our life and peace to bring,
To dwell in lowliness with men
Their Pattern and their King.
Still to the lowly soul
He doth Himself impart;
And for His cradle and His throne
Chooseth the pure in heart.
Lord, we Thy presence seek;
May ours this blessing be;
Give us a pure and lowly heart,
A temple meet for Thee.
For - Always pause and
ponder this instructive
term of explanation.
As with the other beatitudes, In the
Greek "they" is placed emphatically in the sentence
signifying that it is "they and they alone" who will see God. It
is only the pure in heart, who shall Him for He reserves intimate
knowledge of and fellowship with Him for those who maintain this purity
of heart. How this should motivate us.
Spurgeon - It is a most blessed attainment to
have such a longing for purity as to love everything that is chaste and
holy, and to abhor everything that is questionable and unhallowed: There
is a wonderful connection between hearts and eyes. A man who has the
stains of filth on his soul cannot see God, but they who are purified in
heart are purified in vision too: “they shall see God.”
(optánomai from horao = to see) means to see with the eyes
implying not just the mere act of physically seeing but also actual
of coming to comprehend, grasp, attain awareness or understanding of) of
what one sees.
This specific form (verb indicative
future middle deponent 3rd person plural) is found in Matt 5:8; 24:30;
28:10; Mk 13:26; Luke 21:27; John 19:37; Acts 2:17; Ro 15:21; Rev 22:4
Optanomai is used 4 times in
to describe Jesus' post-resurrection appearances (green
5 and that He
to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 After that He appeared
to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain
until now, but some have fallen asleep;
7 then He appeared
to James, then to all the apostles;
8 and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He
to me also. (see notes
Optanomai is used repeatedly to refer to Jesus' Second Coming
as shown in the following verses:
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then
shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and
they shall see
the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great
glory" (Mt 24:30)
THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER" (Mt 26:64)
a second time" (He 9:28-note)
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet
what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him,
Him just as He is." (1John 3:2-note )
"BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS and every eye will
Him" (Re 1:7-note)
Here in Mt 5:8 "see" is in
future continuous tense. In other words:
“They shall be continually
seeing God for themselves.”
The future tense also convey the
idea of certainty. The pure in heart
"shall certainly, continually
see God for themselves".
Purity of heart
cleanses the eyes of the
soul so that God is "visible" (cf John 14:21, He
Blest are the pure,
whose hearts are clean,
Who never tread the ways of sin;
With endless pleasures they shall see
A God of spotless purity.
---Isaac Watts (Play)
Pritchard writes that there
is something in man that wants to see God and so Jesus' words...
touch a nerve deep in the human
heart. Jesus here promises that which all men desire—to see God. The
Bible tells us that God has put eternity in the heart of
every man. Pascal speaks
of the “God-shaped vacuum” inside the human heart. Augustine said that
our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God. Seeing God is
the goal of all religion, the end of all true science, the desire of
every nation, and the aim of all philosophy.
(Pritchard goes on to qualify this
"sight" noting that...) "You only see what you are looking for. This
principle explains so many things that happen to us. A few years ago
someone on staff said they were going to walk down to Starbucks to get a
cup of coffee. I looked at them and said, “Where is Starbucks?” I had no
idea where it was even though it’s only located two blocks from here on
Lake Street and I had passed it at least 100 times. But I don’t drink
coffee so I have no need to go to Starbucks. Even though I had passed by
the store many times, I never saw it. That explains why many of us never
“see” God. We aren’t looking for him so we miss him. That, by the way,
answers an interesting Bible question. If Jesus really was the Son of
God, how could so many people have missed his true identity? The answer
is, most people weren’t looking for the Son of God so they never saw
him. He lived on this earth for 33 years but most people never knew it.
In the spiritual realm, as in all of life, you only see what you are
looking for. What We Are Determines What We See. Read Psalm 18:20, 21,
22, 23, 24, 25, 26
What we are determines we see! The kind of people we are determines the
kind of revelation we receive.
In this context, “seeing God” means to have a deep experience of God, to
know him intimately and personally. All successful marriages discover
this truth on a human level. The longer you live with another person,
the more you get to know them as they really are. Transparency begets
intimacy. In a good marriage, there is nothing hidden because there is
nothing to hide... Let me summarize this beatitude in a two short
statements: 1. In this life a pure heart means a deep walk with God. 2.
In eternity a pure heart means a new experience of God. This is what
Psalm 24 (note) means when it asks “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who
may stand in his holy place?” The answer is simple: “He who has clean
hands and a pure heart.” He will receive a blessing from the Lord. He
will be vindicated by God himself.
That leads me to one final passage
that has always intrigued me. He 11:27
(note) says (speaking of Moses),
“By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered
because he saw him who is invisible.” What an amazing phrase! Moses saw
“him who is invisible.” But according to 2Corinthians 3:11, 12, 13, 14,
15, 16, 17, 18 we have
an even greater privilege than Moses had. When he saw God the glory
eventually faded from his face, but in Christ the veil has been taken
away and now in Christ we have seen God face to face and his glory has
been revealed to us. More than that, by the Holy Spirit we are daily
being transformed into his likeness with “ever-increasing glory.” As I
scan this beatitude and think about what it really means, I want to take
off my shoes. Surely we are standing on holy ground. . (Pritchard,
R: The Tragedy of Double Vision)
We can't physically see God now
with our human physical eyes, and so it follows that in this
beatitude, Jesus is speaking figuratively of spiritual vision (and
in concert with the meaning of katharos discussed above He is
specifically speaking of "20/20 Spiritual Vision"). The
Scripture repeatedly states that no human has physically seen God the
"But He (God to Moses) said, "You
cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" (Exodus 33:20)
(Note: Even Moses who talked with God face to face in Nu 12:8 never God
saw in His essence but only saw the “back side” of God. Seeing God’s
essence is like looking directly into the sun. The light is too bright,
it destroys your eyesight)
"Then the LORD spoke to you from the
midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form--
only a voice." (Deut 4:12)
"And the Father who sent Me, He has
borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor
seen His form." (John 5:37)
"Not that any man has seen the
Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father" (John
"(God) who alone possesses
immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or
can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen." (1Timothy 6:16)
No one has beheld God at any time; if
we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
The Scriptures however do state
that seeing Jesus was tantamount to seeing the Father. For
"No man has seen God at any time; the
only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has
explained (source of our word exegesis = explanation or
critical interpretation of a text) Him. (John 1:18)
"Jesus said to him, "Have I been so
long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who
has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the
Father'?" (John 14:9)
"If I had not done among them the
works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have
both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. (John 15:24)
"And He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the
first-born of all creation. (see note
"And He (Jesus) is the radiance of
His (the Father's) glory and the exact representation of His (the
Father's) nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
In addition there are numerous Old
Testament appearances of God (theophanies) which when carefully observed
leave little doubt that the One Who appeared was the Pre-incarnate
Christ (Christophanies) in a form usually designated as the "Angel of
the Lord". (click
study). For example Jacob
undoubtedly had a theophany of this type, for Moses records...
So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to
face, yet my life has been preserved." (Genesis 32:30 )
In summary, the seeing that Jesus
is referring to in this Beatitude is seeing with the eyes of the heart
so to speak. Horao, the root verb of optánomai is used
Romans 1:20 (note) where
Paul teaches that the creation (natural revelation) made God evident to
For since the creation of the world
invisible (aoratos from
a = without + horao = see)
attributes, His eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly seen,
(kathorao from katá = an intensifying preposition +
horáo = see)
being understood through what has been made, so that they are without
excuse. (Ro 1:20-note)
And so in
("invisible" and "clearly seen") the root verb horao is used. In
context "clearly seen" corresponds to "understood". In other words
in the seeing of something God made (creation), there was an
understanding of His invisible attributes, eternal power and divine
nature. This is the way Jesus uses optanomai in the fifth beatitude. At
least this is the meaning for those of us who are still on earth. But
there is a greater seeing, the summum bonum (the greatest good), that Jesus includes in this beatitude and that
is the seeing of Himself when He returns (in the Rapture or at the end
of the Great Tribulation) or when we go home to Him at the end of our
earthly life (2Cor 5:8). John writes....
Beloved, now we are children of God,
and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He
appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see (optanomai)
Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him
purifies himself, just as He is pure (hagnos speaks of moral and
spiritual purity). (1John 3:2-3) (Note how the certainty of the hope of
seeing Jesus "tomorrow" should motivate us to live our life "today" so
that when he appears we can have boldness and not shrink away from Him
in shame at His coming. Beloved, mark it down - What or Who you are
looking for, will determine what or who you live for) (See study on
The Blessed Hope)
we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but
then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1Corinthians 13:12)
And there shall no longer be any
curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His
bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see (horao)
His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. (Rev 22:3, 4-see notes
Job echoes a similar
thought as does John in 1John 3:2 declaring...
as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take
His stand on the earth. Even after my
skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself
shall behold, and Whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart
faints within me. (Job 19:26-27)
Spurgeon commenting on
Job's affirmation writes...
"Mark the subject of Job’s devout anticipation—”I shall see God.”
He does not say, “I shall see the saints”—though doubtless that will be
untold felicity— but, “I shall see God.” It is not—”I shall see the
pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the
crowns of gold,” but “I shall see God.” (Ed Note: Job says the
same thing three times in different ways!) This is the sum and substance
of heaven, this is the joyful hope of all believers")
Paul prays for the saints at
Ephesus to have 20/20 spiritual vision...
I pray that the eyes of your heart
(clarity of mind/understanding by which one is able to see all
things intelligibly and clearly and proceed w/o mistake) may be
enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and
what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
(Ep 1:18, 19-see notes
It is not the stiff-necked rebellious
heart who will see Jesus, but the pliable, pleasing, obedient heart as
the King Himself declared in one of His incredible conditional
"He who has My commandments and keeps
them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My
Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him." (John
Our Lord clearly promises the
obedient saint, the one who is pure in heart - "I will make Myself
manifestly apparent to that person." The Unseen and Risen Christ will be
a real and spiritual Presence to the obedient and loving
believer. Does this not make you hunger and thirst for righteousness,
seeking to keep your heart pure?
Alexander Maclaren describes
the blessedness that the seeing of God brings writing that...
There is nothing else that will
‘satisfy the eye with seeing.’ The vision of God, even in that incipient
and imperfect form which is possible upon earth, is the one thing that
will calm our distractions, that will supply our needs, that will lift
our lives to a level of serene power and blessedness, unattainable by
any other way. Such a sight will dim all the dazzling illusions of
earth, as, when the sun leaps into the heavens, the stars hide their
faces and faint into invisibility. It will make us lords of ourselves,
masters of the world, kings over time and sense and the universe.
Everything will be different when ‘earth is crammed with heaven, and
every common bush afire with God.’ That is what is possible for a
Christian holding fast by Jesus Christ, and in Him having communion with
the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Brethren, I venture to say no word
about the blessedness of that future. Heaven’s golden gates keep their
secret well. Even the purest joys of earth, about which poets have sung
for untold centuries, after all singing need to be tasted before they
are conceived of; and all our imaginings about the blessedness yonder is
but like what a chrysalis might dream in its tomb as to the life of the
radiant winged creature which it would one day become. Let us be content
to be ignorant, and believe with confidence that we shall find that the
vision of God is the heaven of heavens.
We shall owe that eternal vision to the eternal Revealer; for, as I
believe, Scripture teaches us that it is only in Him that the glorified
saints see the Father, as it is only in Him that here on earth we have
the vision of God. That sight is not, like the bodily sense to which it
is compared, a far-off perception of an ungrasped brightness, but it is
the actual possession of what we behold. We see God when we have God.
When we have God we have enough.
But I dare not close without one other word. There is a vision of God
possible to an impure heart, in which there is no blessedness. There
comes a day in which ‘they shall call upon the rocks to fall and cover
them from the face of Him that sits upon the throne.’ (Re 6:15, 16-see notes
alternative is before each of us, dear friends-either ‘every eye shall
see Him, and they also which pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth
shall wail because of Him’; (Re 1:7-note) or, ‘I shall behold Thy
face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy
likeness.’ (Psalm 17:5 -
Spurgeon notes) If we cry, ‘Create a clean heart in me, O God!’
(Psalm 51:10 -
Spurgeon notes) He will answer, ‘I will give you a new heart, and
take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart
of flesh, and I will pour clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.’
(Ezekiel 36:25, 26) (Maclaren,
A: The Sixth Beatitude)
HOW DOES PURITY RELATE TO
Chambers writes that...
(Mt 5:8) Purity is not innocence,
it is much more. Purity is the outcome of sustained spiritual
sympathy with God. We have to grow in purity. The life with God may be
right and the inner purity remain unsullied, and yet every now and again
the bloom on the outside may be sullied. God does not shield us from
this possibility, because in this way we realize the necessity of
maintaining the vision by personal purity. If the spiritual bloom of our
life with God is getting impaired in the tiniest degree, we must leave
off everything and get it put right. Remember that vision depends on
character - the pure in heart see God.
God makes us pure by His sovereign grace, but we have something to look
after, this bodily life by which we come in contact with other people
and with other points of view, it is these that are apt to sully. Not
only must the inner sanctuary be kept right with God, but the outer
courts as well are to be brought into perfect accord with the purity God
gives us by His grace. The spiritual understanding is blurred
immediately the outer court is sullied. If we are going to retain
personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ, it will mean there are some
things we must scorn to do or to think, some legitimate things we must
scorn to touch....(My
Utmost for His Highest March 26)
(Rev 4:1) An elevated mood (Ed:
Enhanced spiritual vision) can only come out of an elevated habit of
personal character (Ed: purity). If in the externals of your life you
live up to the highest you know, God will continually say - "Friend, go
up higher." The golden rule in temptation is - Go higher. When you get
higher up, you face other temptations and characteristics. Satan uses
the strategy of elevation in temptation, and God does the same, but the
effect is different. When the devil puts you into an elevated place, he
makes you screw your idea of holiness beyond what flesh and blood could
ever hear, it is a spiritual acrobatic performance, you are just poised
and dare not move; but when God elevates you by His grace into the
heavenly places, instead of finding a pinnacle to cling to, you find a
great table-land where it is easy to move.
Compare this week in your spiritual history with the same week last year
and see how God has called you up higher. We have all been brought to
see from a higher standpoint. Never let God give you one point of truth
which you do not instantly live up to. Always work it out, keep in the
light of it.
Growth in grace (2Pe 3:18) is measured not by the fact that you have not
gone back, but that you have an in sight into where you are spiritually;
you have heard God say "Come up higher," not to you personally, but to
the insight of your character.
"Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" (Ge 18:17) God has to
hide from us what He does until by personal character (Ed: the
growth of that character) we get to the place where He can reveal it. (My
Utmost for His Highest March 27)
We See God Today?
Here are several ways...
1) Natural Revelation - His
The heavens are telling of the glory
of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalm
19:1 - see
Spurgeon's note, cf
2) Special Revelation - His
Open my eyes, that I may behold
wonderful things from Thy law. (Psalm 119:18 -
The unfolding of Thy words gives
light; It gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130 -
Then He opened their minds to
understand the Scriptures (Mt 24:45)
And Jesus said, "For judgment I came
into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who
see may become blind." (John 9:39)
But their minds were hardened; for
until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil
remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day
whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a man
turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2Cor 3:14-16)
For God, who said, "Light shall shine
out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the
light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2Cor
I advise you to buy from Me gold
refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you
may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be
revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. (see note
3) Circumstances of life
Job's incredible affliction
included an affirmation of trust in God and ended with him seeing God...
"But He knows the way I take; When He
has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
"My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned
aside (Job 23:10-11-note)
"I have heard of Thee by the hearing
of the ear; But now my eye sees Thee (Job 42:5)
Comment: Some of us know all
about the fiery furnace and if you are going through one as you read
this note remember that God never sends fire to destroy His child but to
purify him or her. As we learn to submit to God in our trials without
murmuring or disputing (Php 2:14-note), we begin to develop the purity of
heart that produces the gold of a Christlike character.
Think of Fanny Crosby the
great hymn writer who was blind from birth wrote...
"It seemed intended by the blessed
providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him
for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow
I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God
if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about
A saint who was pure in heart -
How else could Fanny Crosby have written such an otherwise paradoxical
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
A Saint Maintain 20/20 Spiritual Vision?
1) We Must Continually
Recognize Our Poverty of Spirit (Mt 5:3-note)
We must acknowledge and admit that we
are unable to live even a single holy moment without complete dependence
on the Lord’s guidance and power. Jesus' words in John ring true...
"I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from
Me you can do nothing (Greek word here = "absolutely nothing"!)." (John
15:5, cf Ps 73:26 -
See Spurgeon's note)
Cleansing begins with our recognizing
the weakness to live God's call to a supernatural life in our strength.
Paul's words make an excellent working pattern we should all seek to
emulate. Possessing a "throne in the flesh" and in the face of entreaty
times three, Paul comes to one of the great statements in the Bible...
And He has said to me, "My grace is
sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly,
therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of
Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses,
with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for
Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Corinthians
2) We Must Continually Eat and
5:6 ) His Pure Word
But He answered and said, "It is
written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT
PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" (Matthew 4:4, from Deut 8:3)
"You are already clean (katharos)
because of the word (the cleansing agent is the Word, cf Eph 5:26-note)
which I have spoken to you."
Comment: Washing with the
water will clean you but even water can’t make you clean until you get
in the bathtub. In the same way the Word of God can purify your heart
but you’ve got to daily wash yourself in the water of God's Word.
Take a bath in the Bible every day, obey what the Spirit illuminates to
your mind and you will soon have a pure heart.
How can a young man keep his way
pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.
With all my heart I have sought Thee. Do not let me wander from
Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against
Thee. (Psalm 119:9-11- see Spurgeon's
Let the word of Christ richly
(a command not a suggestion - God's Word is to be our daily, habitual
Are you "malnourished" dear reader?)
within you, with all wisdom (ability to apply God's truth to every
aspect of our life) teaching and admonishing one another with
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your
hearts to God. (see note
Comment: Did you open the Word
today and ask the Lord to speak a word to you? Your quiet time is not an
option, but is the barometer of your spiritual life. This is not the
legalism of a practice but the loyalty to a Person, the Lord Jesus
Christ. Did you pierce the heavens today to see the face of your Savior?
Your heart must be dominated by the Word of God. As a man thinks in his
heart, so is he. Your heart, the control center of your life, must be
set apart to God or all that issues from it will not be holy unto the
3) We Must be Continually Be
Activated by the Holy Spirit
And do not get drunk with wine, for
that is dissipation, but (continually =
with the Spirit, (Eph
Comment: This is not a promise
to claim but a command to obey. If you are not being filled right now
then there is sin in your life, there is something in the way. Yield
your life to the person, power and presence of the Holy Spirit. How
often we hear talk about a "higher" life but that pales in comparison to
the "normal" Christian life, beloved!
Galatians 5:16-note But I say, walk
by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For
the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the
flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not
do the things that you please.
Comment: God would not command
us to walk by the Spirit unless He also enabled us to do so. God's
commands always include His enablement. Understand that the POWER of the
flesh for sin still remains, but it is now ALIEN to our new nature and
therefore now we can say "YES" to God and usurp the power of the FLESH.
The physical human body is not sinful but neutral. If the Holy Spirit
controls our body, then we walk in the Spirit; but if the flesh (note)
controls the body, then we walk in the lusts (desires -
of the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh have different appetites, and
this is what creates the conflict. Also NOTE what this text does NOT
say..."walk by the Spirit and the flesh will not have desires."
NOR does it say "Deny the desires of the flesh so that you may walk in
the Spirit." Focus on Jesus (Col 3:1,2-see notes
John 3:30-note), not on the desires.
4) We Must Continually Seek to
Keep Our Heart Clean
Paul writes based on the
promises that God will be a father to us, and we shall be sons and
daughters to Him...based on this incredible truth Paul concludes...
Therefore, having these promises
(What? see 2Co 6:16, 17, 18!), beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from
all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of
God. (2Corinthians 7:1-note)
John gives us the truth we
must rely on as we walk to and fro through this fallen sin sick world,
encouraging us that
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. (1John 1:7)
And when you do sin (we all
will)...then quickly tell God what He already knows...
If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness (note that this "all unrighteousness" includes those
things you may not even have thought were sin or you forgot to confess -
He said "all" unrighteousness so walk forth in peace). (1John
5) We Must Continually Maintain
a Vigilance Motivated by Our Blessed Hope
Comment: Remember that "hope"
in Scripture speaks of an absolute assurance that God will do good to
us! Be motivated by the certainty that you will one day see your King
face to face (see 1John 3:2-3 above). Paul echoes this sentiment writing
to Titus (see notes
the grace of God has appeared,
bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and
worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly
in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of
the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (if we are really
looking for Him, we will have a strong desire to be living for Him now)
Who gave Himself for us (our Substitute, Who died in our place - 1Pe
[note], Ro 5:6 [note];
[note]), that He might redeem (buy us with His blood out of
enslavement to sin, 1Pe 1:18, 19-see notes
19) us from every lawless deed and
purify for Himself a people for His own possession (KJV = "a
peculiar people" = we are not our own 1Pe 2:9
[note], 1Cor 6:20, 1Cor 7:23,
see Re 5:9-note), zealous for good deeds
(see discussion of see
good deeds) (Ep
6) We Must Continually Pray
'And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil." (Mt 6:13
[note], cf Ep 6:18
[note], Luke 18:1, 1Th
"Keep watching and praying, that you
may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is
weak." (Mt 26:41, cf 1Pe 1:13, 2:11, 5:8- notes
Keep deception and lies far from
me..." (Proverbs 30:8)
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (See
Although the psalmist
(Psalm 86:11 -
see Spurgeon's note) does not use the word katharos, the idea is the same in
Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk
in Thy truth;
Unite my heart to fear Thy name.
(make my heart become one, give me an undivided heart, give me a heart
focused on You Alone)
Comment: the psalmist prays for a single-mindedness, a single
focus, a heart not focused with one "eye" on the world's delectables
and the other on the heaven's divinity. (cf Mt 6:23-24)
Psalm 139:23-24 is another good
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the
everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24 - See Spurgeon's
Comment: Search is a Hebrew
word calling for God to penetrate and examine our hearts thoroughly and
Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test
my mind and my heart. (Psalm 26:2 -
see Spurgeon's note)
Here is a hymn we would all be wise
to take as our prayer...
PURER IN HEART, O GOD
Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
May I devote my life wholly to Thee:
Watch Thou my wayward feet,
Guide me with counsel sweet;
Purer in heart, help me to be.
Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Teach me to do Thy will most lovingly;
Be Thou my Friend and Guide,
Let me with Thee abide;
Purer in heart, help me to be.
Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Until Thy holy face one day I see:
Keep me from secret sin,
Reign Thou my soul within;
Purer in heart, help me to be.
In summary, citizens of the
Kingdom of Heaven, must continually work out their salvation, striving
to maintain purity of heart, with a sense of reverential awe and
trembling, all the while knowing that ultimately it is God Who is at
work in us giving us the desire to obey Him and the power to present to
Him a single minded focus of heart that pleases Him (Php 2:12-note),
See booklet on closely related
Why Would Anyone Want To Be Holy?
The promise of seeing God one day
soon (in forever future) is beautifully expressed in the hymn...
Lord, Hear the Right
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, then I shall be satisfied. (play
Charles Simeon writes that...
character here mentioned, is that which first claims our attention—
Purity of heart may be
considered as opposed to hypocrisy: in that sense it denotes a freedom
from base and selfish ends in the whole of our transactions, both with
God and man. Strange as it may seem, the duties of religion itself may
be performed from very unworthy motives. Pride, ostentation,
self-righteousness, self-complacency, may lie at the foundation of those
very services whereby we pretend to honour God; and may render them, not
only worthless, but hateful in his sight. Our conduct also towards man
may be very specious, and yet be full of dissimulation and craft. It is
no uncommon thing, as all who are conversant with the world know, to see
men, under the guise of friendship, aiming only at the advancement of
their own interests. Such duplicity is hateful to a true Christian. He
that is “an Israelite indeed, is without guile.” Purity of heart, in
this sense, is beautifully exemplified in the Apostle Paul, whose
ministrations had no other object than to advance the glory of God in
the salvation of men. O that all of us possessed the same integrity;
and could, like him, appeal both to God and man for the purity of our
intentions, and the simplicity of our minds!
But purity may also be
understood in opposition to uncleanness: and, if we suppose that our
Lord designed to condemn the sensuality of those who expected the
Messiah as a temporal Prince, we must of course annex that meaning to
his words. Perhaps the more enlarged sense of the text, as comprehending
both ideas, is the more just: but as the latter idea is of singular
importance, we shall consider the character chiefly in reference to
We observe, then, that the
person who is pure in heart,
1. Abstains from all acts of
uncleanness— [Others may make light of fornication and adultery: but
he knows them to be ruinous and damning sins: and he abstains from them,
not merely from the fear of detection and disgrace, but from a dread of
displeasing Almighty God, and of plunging his soul into everlasting
misery. He is well convinced, that “the body was not for fornication,
but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.” (1Co 6:13) He considers
“his body as a member of Christ himself:” and, if tempted to “take the
members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot,” he exclaims
with horror, “God forbid!”1Co 6:15.]
2. Harbours no evil desires
in his heart—Being of like passions with others, he cannot but feel
as others on some occasions: but he has learned through grace to
counteract the propensities of nature, and to “crucify the flesh with
the affections and lusts.” (Gal 5:24) He knows that “fleshly lusts war
against the soul;” (1Pe 2:11) and that, if not vigorously opposed in
the first instance, they will soon gain the ascendant, and lead him
captive. He sees how others are enslaved, “having eyes full of adultery,
and that cannot cease from sin.” (2Pe 2:14) He has heard of that
confession in the book of Proverbs, “I was almost in all evil in the
midst of the congregation and the assembly:” (Pr 5:14) and he dreads
lest he in like manner should become a prey to his evil passions. If
evil thoughts or desires arise, he regards them as fire, which, if not
extinguished speedily, will inflame and consume his soul. Hence lie
prays day and night, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a
right spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10) He is not contented with being
“like a whited sepulchre, beautiful without, but full of all uncleanness
within:” he is as attentive to “the inside of the cup and platter,” as
he is to its exterior appearance (Mt 23:25, 26, 27, 28).
3. Avoids the occasions of
evil—Many who have a regard for their character, will yet make no
scruple of reading books, or hearing songs, or attending scenes, which
tend to vitiate the mind. They will even court occasions of evil,
delighting in that company and conversation which they know by
experience to produce bad impressions on their hearts.
Not so the person that is pure
in heart: he stands at a distance from every polluting object (Ps
73:1): like Joseph, he flies from those who would corrupt him (Ge
39:9, 10): like Job, he “makes a covenant with his eyes,” and with his
heart, that he will neither look, nor think, upon an object that will
ensnare him (Job 31:1). He knows that “the very thought of foolishness
is sin;” (Pr 24:9) and he is determined through grace, that “vain
thoughts shall not lodge with him.” He hates them: he loathes himself
for his propensity to indulge them; and he longs to be “holy as God
himself is holy.” (1Pe 1:14, 15, 16)
blessedness of those who have attained this character, is the next point
to be considered:
1. They shall enjoy a sight
of God in this world— [It is true, that “God dwelleth in the light
which no man can approach unto,” and that, in strictness of speech, “no
man hath seen him, or can see him.” But there were manifestations of him
vouchsafed to his people of old, sometimes through the medium of the
human or angelic form, and sometimes by a bright effulgence of his
glory. There are also other manifestations which God still makes of
himself to the souls of men (Jn 14:21, 22, 23); and which he will
vouchsafe to the pure in heart. It must not, however, be expected that,
in speaking of these things, we can bring them down to the apprehension
of the ungodly: they have no eyes to see them, no ears to hear them, no
understandings to understand them: and it is as vain to speak of these
things to them, as it would be to speak of colours to the blind, or
sounds to the deaf, or tastes to those who had no palate. Nevertheless
we must affirm, on the authority of God himself, that “the pure in heart
shall see God.” They shall see him in his ordinances, whilst others are
altogether unconscious of his presence. They shall see him in their
secret chamber, where he will draw nigh unto them, and “say, Here I
am.” (Job 33:26. Is 58:9) They shall see him in all the works of
creation, and in all the dispensations of his providence. They shall see
him in every comfort and in every cross. His wisdom, his goodness, his
love, his mercy, his faithfulness, are ever before their eyes. They have
such views of him and his perfections as words cannot describe; and such
fellowship with him as a carnal man has no idea of (1Jn 1:3). The
impure may mourn, and even “howl upon their beds;” but the pure, like
Moses of old, have near access to God, and see “him who is invisible;”
(He 11:27) and by this sight are strengthened, supported, comforted, and
2. They shall behold the
beatific vision in heaven—[Thither the unclean can never be admitted
(Ep 5:5. He 12:14). As well might “light have communion with darkness,
or Christ with Belial,” as they participate the blessedness of heaven.
If it be asked, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and stand
in his holy place?” the answer is, “He that hath clean hands, and a pure
heart.” (Ps. 24:4) To him a glorious inheritance is promised: for him
a place in the heavenly mansions is prepared: a seat upon the very
throne of God himself is reserved for him. There shall his organs of
vision be strengthened to behold all the glory of the Godhead. At
present he “sees God only as through a glass, darkly; but then will he
behold him face to face. Now he knows God only in part; but then he will
know him, even as he himself is known.” (1Co 13:12)
1. The gay (meaning "intoxicate") and dissipated—Perhaps you
refrain from gross iniquity; and therefore “imagine yourselves pure,
though you are not washed from your inward filthiness.” In this notion
you are countenanced by the world at large: — — — but “let no man
deceive you with vain words: for because of inward, as well as outward
impurity, the wrath of God cometh upon all the children of
disobedience.” (Ep 5:6. 2Pe 2:9, 10) “Your bodies are the temples of
the Holy Ghost; and if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God
destroy.” (1Co 3:16, 17) Nevertheless, if you deeply repent of your
past sins, you shall be forgiven (Jas 4:8, 9); and if you believe in
Christ, you shall be both sanctified and saved. (1Co 6:9, 10, 11)
2. The professors of religion—How
many who have run well for a season have been hindered and turned aside
through the prevalence of their own evil passions! We need not go back
to David and Solomon: there is not a place where religion has made any
progress, but affords some lamentable proof of the influence of
unsubdued lusts. A religious person first conceives a thought; and that
thought is suffered to dwell upon his mind. The mind inflamed, yields to
the impulse of desire so far as to court familiarity with the alluring
object: conscience reproves; but the deceitful heart suggests, that, as
no positive act of sin is intended, no evil will arise. Corruption now
begins to work more strongly; and every renewed familiarity with
temptation increases its power over us; so that we scarcely know how to
keep from the place or person whom we ought to shun. Conscience
remonstrates, but in vain; till at last the devil takes us in his snare,
and we bring disgrace on our holy profession, and cause the name of God
to be blasphemed. This is the history of many a religious character.
Would we avoid this melancholy end? let us avoid the means. Let us “keep
our hearts with all diligence:” (Pr 4:23) let us live nigh to God, and
beg of him to keep us. Let us beware how we “grieve his Spirit,” by
tampering with sin, or parleying with temptation. Let us “walk in the
Spirit; and then we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” Let us
often ask ourselves, What we shall think of such things in a dying hour?
Little dost thou think, whoever thou art that art yielding to the
tempter, how thou art filling thy dying pillow with thorns; and wilt
most probably bring on thyself a condemnation far heavier than that of
Sodom and Gomorrah. O may God take you out of the horrible pit, out of
the miry clay, and set your feet upon a rock, and establish your
goings!” But concerning this evil we may say, as our Lord said
concerning a deaf and dumb spirit whom his disciples could not cast out,
“This kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting.”
3. The conscientious
Christian— [Blessed art thou, who art enabled to maintain “a
conscience void of offence towards God and man.” Thou art blessed, and
shalt be blessed. If thou dost not see so much of God as thou wouldst,
thou hast far different views of him from what they have who give way to
sin. And the time is fast approaching, when thou shalt no more complain
of darkness and distance from God, but shalt “behold his face in
righteousness, and be satisfied with it.”
Yet even to thee must I say,
Watch against the assaults of sin and Satan. It is not past experience
that will keep thee: for Solomon fell “after God had appeared to him
twice.” Nor is it high attainments that will preserve thee: for the
man after God’s own heart became a monument of human frailty and
depravity. Nor is even marriage itself sufficient to extinguish the
unhallowed flame. You may have, if I may so say, whole flocks at your
command, and yet it will not keep you from coveting your neighbour’s
ewe-lamb. It is grace, and grace alone, that will enable you to hold
on unto the end. In Christ you may trust with joyful confidence: “He is
able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the
presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Moreover, he has promised
that “you shall have no temptation without a way to escape, that you may
be able to bear it.” Apply this promise to your souls, and you shall
be enabled to “cleanse yourselves from all filthiness, both of flesh and
spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God.” Depend not for
one moment on yourselves, but “be strong in the grace that is in
Christ:” and may the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly! and I pray
God that your whole body, soul, and spirit, may be sanctified wholly
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!] (Matthew
5:8 Purity of Heart)
In Faith's Checkbook C H
Spurgeon has a devotional entitled "Purity of Heart and Life"...
Purity, even purity of heart, is the main
thing to be aimed at. We need to be made clean within through the Spirit
and the Word, and then we shall be clean without by consecration and
obedience. There is a close connection between the affections and the
if we love evil we cannot understand that which is good. If the heart is
foul, the eye will be dim. How can those men see a holy God who love
unholy things? What a privilege it is to see God here! A glimpse of Him
is heaven below! In Christ Jesus the pure in heart behold the Father. We
see Him, His truth, His love, His purpose, His sovereignty, His covenant
character, yea, we see Himself in Christ. But this is only apprehended
as sin is kept out of the heart. Only those who aim at godliness can
cry, "Mine eyes are ever towards the LORD." The desire of Moses, "I
beseech thee, show me thy glory," can only be fulfilled in us as we
purify ourselves from all iniquity. We shall "see him as he is," and
"every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself." The enjoyment
of present fellowship and the hope of the beatific vision are urgent
motives for purity of heart and life. LORD, make us pure in heart that
we may see Thee!
Our Daily Bread: A Daily Devotional writes
about 20/20 spiritual vision and the ability to see God in the
circumstances of life in a way we could never have done had He not
enlightened the eyes of our heart...
Nineteen-year-old John McNeill was
working in a railway office the day he received Christ as his Savior.
Years later, this much-loved Scottish evangelist and pastor looked back
on that life-changing day.
"It was like the lifting of a curtain for me," he said. "There was no
great feeling; it was a case of seeing. I took a walk along the
platform. I remember that morning saying to myself: 'Has the station
been whitewashed?' The very dingy brick wall all covered with smoke and
soot from the engines looked whiter. It was not the walls. It was my
mind that was brightened as I took my first walk in the light of
McNeill's description beautifully illustrates one aspect of Jesus'
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Mt.
When we experience God's forgiveness and
cleansing, our eyes are opened to see Him in our circumstances in ways
we never have before.
If your heart is clouded because you've resisted God, clear it by
yielding to Him. With a heart purified by Christ, you will see Him
everywhere around you today. --D C McCasland (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
HOW TO SEE CLEARLY
Acknowledge your sin.
Turn away from your sin.
Ask Christ to forgive you.
Yield your life to Christ and look for Him in your daily circumstances.
A pure heart enables us to see God in
everything. (See also related booklets
The Way Back
David & Manasseh: Overcoming Failure)
Dear Kingdom Citizens...
Based on the truth in
For as Sinclair Ferguson
Jesus' teaching provides us with a
of the strength of our Christian
How clearly do we see God in all
Do we see Him as clearly as we used to?
Or has He become obscure and distant?
Have we maintained the sharpness of our vision of Him through
whole-hearted commitment to Him?
Are we pure in heart?
Sinclair: Sermon on the Mount :Banner of Truth)
F. B. Meyer in his book
Blessed Are Ye writes...
THE BEATIFIC VISION
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."--Matt. 5:8.
OF all the eight beatitudes, none
arrests us with a greater sense of sublimity and majesty than this; and
none, in its possession, more absolutely distinguishes the religion of
the Lord Jesus Christ. Like some inaccessible Alpine peak, covered with
virgin snow, this conception of the pure heart towers up amid all the
great words of this marvellous discourse.
To be pure in behavior and life was
admitted by the Stoics to be the sign and token of true manhood; but to
be pure in heart has been deemed an inaccessible and untenable position.
Even if it were Christ's by the peculiar constitution of His nature, it
cannot, so men argue, become the attribute of natures which were
conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity, and are impressed with the evil
impulses of generations of self-indulgence. To know sin only to abhor
it, to keep so strong a hold on appetite that, like some spirited horse,
it shall only fulfil its legitimate purpose, to be always blameless and
harmless, to wear ever the white flower of a stainless life, to allow no
lewd visitant to cross the threshold of the soul, to permit no foul
picture to remain for a moment on the lens of the inner eye, to love all
men and women with a pure and unselfish affection in which there is no
taint or stain--this is an ideal which, if it flitted before the minds
of men like a bright vision, was not attained until Jesus came with that
omnific word, which said to the leper, " I will, be thou clean," and in
that early miracle gave a sign of the characteristic of His life, in
saving those who had been deeply dyed in the ditch of sensual
indulgence, and making them bright jewels in His crown. Thus pure white
paper is woven from rags, and diamonds manufactured out of charcoal.
PURITY OF HEART
WILL ENSURE PURITY OF LIFE AND CONDUCT.
This connection has been too often
overlooked, and the order forgotten. Many have insisted on the careful
regimen of the body, frugal diet, vigorous exercise, cleanliness of
person; and have reiterated the ancient maxims of the Stoical
philosophy--Touch not, Taste not, Handle not, though discovering, as the
apostle said, long ago, that these things have indeed a show of
will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body, but are not of any
value against the indulgence of the flesh.
No, the secret of purity lies deeper.
Begin with the outward, and you may or may not affect the inward temper
of the soul. Begin with the inward temper, and the effect on the outward
will be immediate and transfiguring.
Purity of heart means the control of
the imagination. Away from the realm of sense there lies a world of
illusion, the atmosphere of which is brilliant but deadly, its scenery
bewitching but corrupting, the inhabitants wicked spirits, some of whom
are robed in exquisite costumes veiling their deformity, whilst others
are at no pains to hide their loathsomeness. Thither imagination can at
will transport us. Like a swift shallop it can convey us to those mystic
shores; and disembarking we can take our part in unseemly revels, whilst
our face is buried in our hands, in the attitude of prayer, or our
outward presence is sharing in the amenities of the home-circle. But no
heart can be kept pure, unless the fancy is kept sternly under control.
It must not be permitted to bear us away into the world of unholy and
sensuous dreams, or to introduce into the temple of the soul any picture
which would taint or defile.
Purity of heart means the rigorous
care of the affections. We must love. Not to love is to lose God and
heaven out of life; not to love is to miss the inner secret of
blessedness; not to love is to deny the exercise of our noblest powers.
We wrong the nature with which God has endowed us when we refuse to
love. But our affections resemble the tendrils of clinging plants, they
reach out altogether in wrong directions, or too profusely in right
ones. So our love strays to those to whom we ought not to give it, or
overflows with undue extravagance to those who have a claim to something
but not all. Nothing is more hurtful than a friendship which monopolizes
all the thought and force of the lovers, to the exclusion of all others,
and especially of God. We must love God in others, and them in God, only
where His will permits, and to the extent which is compatible with His
claims for the first place. Whenever you feel your heart giving out
strongly to another, be very careful to consider whither the strong tide
is bearing you, and stay whilst yet it is possible to resist its
The intention of the soul must be
single.--To do God's will, whatever it costs; to follow in the line
of His command, whatever it involves; to live within the limits He has
laid down, whatever be the solicitation to outstep them. The eye must be
single. The soul must resolve within itself that it will absolutely
yield to God, though the surrender involve the loss of all beside.
Impurity, when traced to its source, will often be found to arise from a
lack of decision that God's way and will shall be paramount, and that
nothing shall be permitted, even for a moment, to conflict with them.
The attitude of the will is also
all-important.--This, after all, is the key to the position. The
will is the custodian of the soul. Conscience pleads as the prophet and
priest of God; the affection and emotions put in their passionate plea;
memory recites the results of past experience; the imagination presents
vivid portrayals of the consequences of certain acts; the judgment sits
upon the bench, sums up and gives its decision; but, after all, it is
for the will to act. We may almost say that it holds the destinies of
life, at its belt swings the key with which it opens and none shuts,
with which it shuts and none opens. The will is like the front wheel of
the bicycle, which gives the direction to the movements of the machine;
it resembles the steersman of the packet, standing weather-beaten behind
the wheel; it is the prime minister of the inner court, its executive
Oh, that thou and I, my reader, may
choose purity above all, setting our will toward it with understanding
tenacity, preferring it above our chief good, ever prepared to surrender
everything if only this may be our lot, to count no sacrifice too great,
no cliff too steep! Dost thou not think that God would meet us, and
accomplish that on which our decisions were fixed? Could He lead us to
such high resolves, only to disappoint and mock? Is not the conception
of such a state a prophecy of what God is prepared to realize? Surely it
is not in vain that His Spirit has indited the prayer, " Cleanse Thou
the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Thy Holy Spirit, that
we may perfectly serve Thee, and worthily magnify Thy holy name."
THE LAW OF PURITY
IS CLEARLY REVEALED.
It is the great gift of the gospel to
teach men that Purity is possible--possible for those who have suffered
most from the law of a depraved heredity, possible to those whose habits
of evil living and thinking have been most debased, possible for those
who have striven in vain to keep the marble palace of the inner life
from being defiled by the tides of ink which sweep through the world.
Let any one follow the Divine prescription, they will find the vision of
the pure in heart is not a dream, but that the Lord Jesus is prepared to
do for the inner life what He did for the leprous flesh. He can effect
in our experience that temper of soul which knows evil only to abhor it,
which is conscious of the presence of the tempter only to loathe his
suggestion, which detects the hideous form beneath the dazzling garb of
one who appears to be an angel of light. Remember the words of the
apostle in which he reminded his converts that they had been delivered
from the powers of darkness, and been translated into the kingdom of
light and love, the kingdom of God's dear Son.
And what is the prime condition of
this heart-purity? The answer comes back clear and sufficient from the
lips of Peter, when speaking of God's work through him amongst the
Gentiles. " God," says he, " which knoweth the heart, bear them witness,
giving them the Holy Ghost, and He made no distinction between us and
them, cleansing their hearts by faith."
And how does Faith cleanse the heart?
There are many ways in which she performs her holy office.
She brings the soul to the Cross, and
bids it behold the dying Saviour, and asks how, in view of such sorrow
and anguish, borne to put away its sin, it can ever dare to open those
wounds again, or add one stab of pain to that infinite agony.
She applies to the soul the precious
blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin, and there is nothing which
so effectively produces inward purity as forgiveness based upon the
sacrifice of the Redeemer. The ease with which the penitent and
believing heart can claim forgiveness does not conduce to sin, but
begets a holy fear which makes it increasingly abhorrent.
She has the marvellous power of
handing over to Christ every suggestion of the Evil One. Whilst the
fiery dart is flaming through the air, and before it reaches the soul,
Faith catches it upon her shield. When the sooty hand is reached out to
pluck her white flower, Faith suddenly interposes the protective
covering of the purity of Christ. To hand over to Jesus every
approaching temptation, each evil suggestion, all haunting fancies, when
as yet they are in the air, and have not put their foot within the
threshold of the soul, is the lesson which faith teaches.
But better than all, Faith
appropriates the Purity of Christ. In the moment of temptation she lifts
her thought and prayer to Him to claim that His purity should so fill
the soul with its perfect heat and light, that there should be no room
for impurity to lurk in any corner. Perhaps it would be better to say
that Faith appropriates Christ as its purity, rather than the Purity of
Christ. A person must always help us better than an attribute, and
Christ Himself is made more to us than any single quality of His nature.
The whole is greater than its part.
It has been discovered that there is
no bacillus that can withstand sunlight, and certainly no impurity can
remain in the heart which is perfectly filled with the presence of
Christ, maintained there by the grace of the Holy Ghost. Darkness cannot
coexist with light. Let the light in, and the darkness needs no other
method of expurgation. It seems to me needless to stay to argue whether
the root of sin is extracted or not; the one point is to let the refiner
of silver pass our nature through the baptism of fire of which the
Baptist spoke, when he foretold that the Lamb of God should baptize with
the Holy Ghost, and with fire. When once the refining fire has passed
through the heart, and is maintained within it, purity will be as
natural as breathing to a man, as singing to a happy child.
THE GUERDON IS
"They shall see God."--To see
the king's face was the object of ambition to loyal courtiers and
subjects in the old days, when the Queen of Sheba congratulated the
servants of Solomon on being able to stand always before him. And to
Absalom it was the keenest sign of disgrace that he was not allowed to
see the face of the king, his father.
This is the thought that probably
underlies this beatitude. Only the pure in heart can stand in the inner
circle, searched by those eyes that are too pure to look upon sin. Only
garments which are unstained can pass muster in the throne-room of the
Supreme. This truth was symbolized in the purity of ablution, ceremonial
and dress, which prevailed in the ancient tabernacle; and it remains
true forever that without holiness no man can see the Lord. If, then,
you and I would dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide
under the shadow of the Almighty; if we would dwell in the house of the
Lord all the days of our life, we must be pure in heart.
The pure in heart see. They are
seers. They get at truth first-hand. They see God in nature, beneath
each flower, and tree, and waterfall; they see Him in every incident of
providence; and circumstance does but reveal His plan and is as the
slight gauze that conceals His movements; they see Him in human love,
and tender voices, in the caress of the little child, and faithfulness
of the true woman; they see Him in Scripture which burns like the bush
of the desert because He is there; and their most cherished aspiration
is to behold His face in righteousness, and to be satisfied when they
awake with His likeness.
It is good to have the eye of the
soul cleansed, that it may see what prophets and kings have been unable
to discover by the exercise of the intellect. It is of this spiritual
lens that the apostle speaks when he says, He that is spiritual
discerneth all things, though he is himself discerned by no man. Even
here and now we see God, but what will not be our rapture when this
gross veil of flesh and infirmity is rent in twain from the top to the
bottom, and we are permitted to stand before the throne, because the
garments of the soul have been washed and made white in the blood of the
In Thee was no sin, my Saviour; Thou
wast the guileless, spotless Lamb of God; baptize me into the fire of
Thy purity, and let me walk with Thee in pure unspotted robes. F. B.
Meyer. Blessed Are Ye