Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the pure in heart. Very few people read that verse and identify with it. If we are honest with ourselves, we can think back on the last 24 hours of our lives and pinpoint multiple times when our hearts were anything but pure. I surely can. Even when trying our hardest, we can’t force ourselves to be pure in heart at all times, making this verse either incredibly discouraging or one of those verses we avoid. This is why we must understand Jesus’ words in the context of all of Scripture.
Ever since sin entered the world, Scripture has been clear that our hearts are corrupt. In Genesis, the Lord judges the earth due to the continual evil in the hearts of man (Genesis 6:5), and then later the prophet Jeremiah records the Lord’s own words describing our hearts as being deceitful and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). Matthew and Mark both record Jesus explaining that evil thoughts and actions come out of the hearts of man. It is clear that the hearts we have are anything but pure! So what are we to do with this verse?
First, we learn how to respond to the fallen state of our hearts by looking at how Paul dealt with the state of his own heart. Paul always looked his sin and falleness straight on, never avoiding or ignoring it. He acknowledged it, wrestled with it, and grieved it. Paul came to the end of himself and cried out in Romans 7:24 that he was wretched and stuck in a body of death. Paul knew there was nothing he could do to make his dead heart pure. This is always to be our first step, to be honest about our sin and inability to save ourselves. To recognize that our hearts are not pure and that we can’t make them pure. And then like Paul, to humble ourselves repeatedly before God confessing the evil in our hearts. If you desire a pure heart then you must start here and return to it time and time again.
But we can’t stop there. Like Paul, we must then responded with “but God.” When faced with his sin, Paul always reminded himself of what God did to save him from his “body of death,” making him alive when he was dead in sin (Ephesians 2:5). Paul knew that only Jesus could make his dead heart pure. And so like Paul, we preach the Gospel to ourselves continually. When we are faced with our impure hearts, we confess it to God and then remind ourselves of what He has done for us in Christ. We fix our eyes on Jesus, as the author of Hebrews urges, who lived and died with a pure heart so that those who believe in Him could do the same.
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God explained to His people that one day He would cleanse them of their sin, give them a new heart and put His Spirit in them so that they will be able to live for Him (Ezekiel 36:25-27). This is what He did for us through Jesus. He gave us a new heart and put His Spirit in us to enable us to live for Him. As we confess our sins, humble ourselves before Him, abide in Him and what He has done for us, trusting Him, His Spirit purifies and empowers us. Through His Word and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, God purifies us of evil motives, deceit, malice, and sin so that we can live for Him. This is what sanctification is. Our selfish motives are replaced with motives that are purely for the Lord, His glory, and Kingdom.
The truth is we can’t make our hearts pure, only Jesus can, and has, and does. So be encouraged because Jesus says blessed are those whose hearts have been purified because through this they will see God. This is a promise for us today, that as we allow God to purify our hearts it will enable us to see Him working in our lives and the world around us. And it is also a promise for us in eternity, that those who have put their faith in Christ will one day have pure hearts and will see God face to face.