Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. —Matthew 5:8, ESV
Once a father told his child to sit down. The child refused. Again the father told his child to sit down and again the child stubbornly refused. Finally the father said, “If you don’t sit down I’m going to give you a spanking.” The child sat down and said, “I’m sitting down on the outside but I’m still standing up on the inside!” Reminds me of what Jesus said to the Jewish leaders:
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me …’ —Matthew 15:7-8, ESV
Outwardly they honored God. They sang songs and prayed and tithed. But they had no love for God. Their hearts – their inner persons – were impure – they acted religious to be noticed by men, not to please God. They were hypocrites.
The word hypocrite comes from a word meaning actor. A hypocrite’s an actor, a pretender. He professes some value or belief but his private life does not match it. He’s not pure in heart. So to be pure in heart means our words match our thoughts. Our outer life matches our inner life.
When God saves us he gives us new hearts:
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. —Ezekiel 36:26-27, ESV
God gives us new hearts that want to follow and obey him and pours his Holy Spirit into us who motivates us to sincere obedience.
A friend once requested I ask him about his TV watching every time he traveled for work. This man sincerely wanted to please Jesus and didn’t want to sin when no one else was watching.
To be pure in heart doesn’t mean we never sin. But it means that now we don’t want to. We hate it when we do, and are grateful for Jesus’ constant cleansing (1 John 1:9).
A few ways to cultivate purity of heart:
Read your Bible regularly for it convicts, warns and encourages us.
Ask God for inner purity. David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart.” Regularly ask God to deliver you from evil and temptation.
Be careful what you take in through your eyes and ears. Flee temptation. Thomas Watson said, “In a duel a man will chiefly guard and fence his heart, so a wise Christian should above all things keep his heart pure.”
Fellowship – confess your struggles and temptations and ask for prayer of one or a few wise, trustworthy believers.
The reward for pursuing purity? “They shall see God.”
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. —1 John 3:2-3, ESV
Because of our glorious hope to see Jesus, the infinitely pure one, face to face, we purify ourselves now, by the power of the Spirit.