Jesus said: Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God
Christians like everyone else are under pressure to make New Year Resolutions. We, of course, are not to let the world's way of thinking squeeze us into its mould. We are to be guided by God's word and standards and we are to see this life and this passing world from the perspective of eternity and to have our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews: 12:2). My mind was led to look again at the opening verses of the 5th Chapter of Matthew's Gospel where the Lord Jesus is describing to us the kind of life we should be living as Christians. Let us tonight fix our thoughts on one of those precious truths:
Jesus says to us: Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.
A statement and a promise. Contentment comes from being right with God. Let us be men and women of backbone and resolution and so live as salt and light in this flabby and relativistic age. Let us look at what the Bible teaches us about those three short words - HEART, PURE and SEE. First, THE HEART In the Bible the heart is the seat of our emotions, our understanding and our reasoning. It is associated with our consciences. For example, on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached the crucified Christ, we read that the people were cut to the heart and devastated by corporate and personal guilt (Acts 2: 36, 37). The heart is involved with our motives, deep down inside of us where issues are weighed up and purposes settled (Hebrews 4: 12). God's word judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The heart is at the root of our desires. Jesus said, "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5: 28). The heart is also the place where decisions are made and it is the seat of faith. The heart stands for the whole of our personalities - thinking, desires, motives, affections, and our wills. Solomon calls the heart the well-spring of life (Proverbs 4: 23). Jesus himself in rebuking the Pharisees said, "for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, slander, false testimony". Is not this a challenge to us? Has God truly changed our thinking, desires, motives, affections and wills? To experience spiritual rebirth involves a radical change of all these things. Can we honestly say with King David, "I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart" (Psalm 40: 8). Almighty God, to whom one day we must give account, is deeply interested in the state of our inner life. The Lord looks at the state of our hearts and searches them. God's word says: "Serve God with a whole-hearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts" (1 Chronicles 28: 9). Almighty God desires the heart - the whole of our inner being. He is not interested in surface, nominal sentiment. He demands our hearts and our obedience. That is His right for He is Lord. The fundamental question is "Are our hearts right with God?" Secondly, PURITY To be pure does not imply sinlessness. The Bible asks this awesome question: "Who can say I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?" (Proverbs 20: 9). All of us must remain silent. The gospel promises are not to those who think they are perfect, but to those who know they are not but who grieve over their imperfections and long to be holy. Purity combines sincerity, integrity and passion. It involves being the same in our public as well as our private lives. It is to pray with the Psalmist, "O Lord give me an undivided heart" (Psalm 86: 11) and it is to live with integrity of behaviour in which we seek to bring every aspect of what we do into conforming with God's word and God's will. It is to pray that prayer which should be constantly ours, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139: 23, 24). There is also passion. There must be about our lives a relentless pursuit for personal holiness: "Make every effort to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12: 14). By habitual prayer and conformity to God's word in Scripture we are to actively seek to become more Christ-like. Thirdly, SEEING GOD What does our Lord mean? The pure in heart see God at their conversion when they lay hold of God's promise: "You will SEE me and FIND me when you seek me with all your HEART" (Jeremiah 29: 13). The unconverted remain without God for Satan has blinded their minds. The Lord Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14: 9) so that to know and love Him is in that sense to see Him. The pure in heart see God in His creation. They recognise that the magnificence of the world around us reflects God's stupendous power, His awesome intelligence and His marvellous creativity and imagination. The pure in heart see God in the unfolding of history and rejoice that God is its author, that He intervenes in human history and that one day He will bring it to completion. The pure in heart see God in Scripture - they understand it is His truthful, inerant and eternal word. They see it as Augustine saw it - as a volume of letters from a heavenly country. The pure in heart see God in Christian service. They serve God in humility, not seeking to advance themselves but giving Him all the glory. The pure in heart obediently see God in all of life's circumstances and especially in times of adversity and difficulty. They trust God even when they cannot trace His hand in what is happening to them. The Puritan preacher, Thomas Brooks, put it in this way, "A gracious soul may look through the darkest cloud and see God smiling on him". These are some of the secondary ways in which the PURE IN HEART may be said to SEE GOD. The ultimate truth of Jesus' words relate to eternity. The Apostle Paul says: "Now we see a poor reflection........then we shall see face to face" (1 Corinthians 13: 12). Whatever our experiences of God are in this life, they are nothing compared to the glorious vision which will be ours in his presence in heaven. We long for glory - the wondering of entering God's glorious presence and of that day when we will reign with Him for ever and ever" (Revelations 22: 5). If worshipping and serving God is such a delight to us now, what will it be like then? The Bible relates the heavenly vision specifically to the person of Jesus Christ. In one of the most breathtaking phrases in Scripture the Apostle John says that at Christ's Second Coming "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3: 2). In this life God's people are gradually being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3: 18). That transformation will be completed in an instant when we see our Saviour face to face and in so doing become like Him. In seeing our Saviour, the pure in heart will be made perfectly happy by being made perfectly holy. Then there will be no frustration, no unfulfilled longings and no unsatisfied desires. For the pure in heart in a very real sense, THE BEST IS YET TO BE. These words from a traditional hymn put into verse something of those words of Jesus. "Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God".
"Lo! Round the throne, a glorious bandThe saints in countless myriads stand,Of every tongue redeemed to God,Arrayed in garments washed in blood.They see their Saviour face to face.And sing the triumphs of his grace;Him day and night they ceaseless praise,To Him the loud thanksgiving raise.So may we tread the sacred roadThat saints and holy martyrs trod;Wage to the end the glorious strifeAnd win, like them, the Crown of Life".