Since our current sermon series is focused on Jesus' sermon on the mount, we are re-sharing our blog series on the beatitudes.
There are some who claim it is harder to follow the Beatitudes than the Ten Commandments. The beatitude we are discussing today is strong support for this argument. This beatitude gets to the “heart” of the matter – our hearts. Rather than a behavior checklist, this beatitude emphasizes the importance of the heart or attitude or motive behind the conduct. Ouch.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
We’ve all known someone who performed correctly for the crowd – the person who never got in trouble in school – the individual who appears to have it all together. But, we’ve also all seen these same people show their true colors, or as we will learn today, they show their true heart.
This beatitude signified a radical change for those living at the same time as Jesus; however, it still has the power to profoundly change our lives today.
Jesus Came to Change Our Hearts – Not Just Our Conduct
Back in the day, the religious leaders put more focus on conduct than character. Jesus taught differently. As Warren Wiersbe explains, “The religious leaders had an artificial, external righteousness based on the law. But the righteousness Jesus described is a true and vital righteousness that begins internally, in the heart. The Pharisees were concerned about the minute details of conduct, but they neglected the major matter of character (Be Loyal, 2008).”
We’ve all known someone who followed the law but did not act in love. Thankfully, Jesus called out the hypocrisy. Jesus understands our conduct flows from our internal character, from our hearts. God has the power to see beyond our actions and see the “why” of our actions.
Our Hearts are a Reflection of Our Character
When you read the Bible, it is abundantly clear why Jesus is concerned with our heart. Our heart reflects our true character. Again, as we discussed earlier, people can check all the boxes but have evil in their inner nature.
“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and
these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—
murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
– Matthew 15:18-19
Since everything we do, say, and think comes from the heart, we are told to guard it (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus recognized the religious leaders did not care why people obeyed the laws; they simply wanted obedience. However, Jesus called his followers to be pure in heart rather than people who obeyed the law for the law’s sake.
What Does Pure in Heart Look Like?
At this point, you are probably wondering what pure in heart looks like. As humans, we want a simple checklist to follow, but we need to be careful about creating laws as the Pharisees did without concern for real life change in the inner person. When we talk about being pure of heart, we must make sure we are speaking directly about one’s internal character.
Being pure in heart means striving to keep one’s mind and motives pure by thinking on the things of the Lord. Being pure of heart is an attitude, not a set of actions. However, as we have already discussed, our actions will eventually follow as conduct flows from character.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
– Philippians 4:8
Consider Your Motives
Ultimately, you must consider your motives. God knows what motivates each of us. For example, are we acting out of selfish intentions or behaving out of selfless love? Are we striving to bring others closer to God or to elevate ourselves in their eyes? Question your motive on a regular basis. If you want to know if you are “pure of heart,” check your heart, check your attitude, check your motive.
To See God is to Know God
This beatitude promises the pure in heart will see God. While we may not literally “see God” today, those who are pure in heart will see God in their lives today. In other words, they will have a greater understanding of God and will know Him better. They will recognize His hand in their daily lives and throughout creation. As you strive to be pure in heart, it is natural that you will draw closer to the Lord because purity is impossible without the Savior.
“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.”
– Psalm 24:3-4
How Can We Be Pure in Heart?
For those of you still looking for a checklist to heart purity, here’s what you must remember. We have no power to achieve purity. You can only have a pure heart through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He will only purify your hearts by faith (Acts 15:9).
How can you strive for this beatitude? Turn to God and His Word. Spend time in prayer. Seek forgiveness. Check your heart. Repent of sin. James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” It is only through His forgiveness of your sins that you can be purified and times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19-20). Thankfully, our Lord is willing and able to forgive us.
“Who is pure of heart? Only those who have surrendered their hearts
completely to Jesus that he may reign in them alone.
Only those whose hearts are undefiled by their own evil—
and by their own virtues too.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Be sure to join us all through the summer for our current series Summer on the Mount: A Beginner's Guide to Experiencing Heaven on Earth. Part one specifically covered the beatitudes. You can watch it here: