Sermon: The Christian Counter Culture (Part 6)

Matthew 5:8 
Truth Taught- It is only the pure in heart who will be happy in the presence of God.

Introduction

Today we are highlighting verse 8. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

Here Jesus shows us that those who will see God as His children are those who are pure in heart.  Here as with the earlier, poor in spirit our Lord is very specific as to what sort of poverty He is looking for and what sort of purity He is looking for.

In this verse, Jesus is reminding us what King David wrote in Psalm 24. What Jesus tells us here in verse 8, David goes on to explain it to us in Psalm 24.  David helps us to understand what Jesus is thinking about when He simply says pure in heart.  Jesus has in mind Psalm 24 and it serves as a commentary for verse 8.

Psalm 24:3–6 (ESV)

   Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? 

And who shall stand in his holy place? 

   He who has clean hands and a pure heart, 

who does not lift up his soul to what is false 

and does not swear deceitfully. 

   He will receive blessing from the Lord

and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 

   Such is the generation of those who seek him,

who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

 Prayer

Matthew 5:2–12 (ESV) 

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

1.  Happy are the Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

Here we are to see purity of heart as the inward quality of moral cleanliness.  Jesus cares about the condition of our heart.  When the Bible uses the word heart in this way it refers to our innermost being or person.  

The aim of Jesus Christ is not to reform the manners of society, but to change the hearts of sinners like you and me. So, for example, Jesus would not be satisfied with a society in which there were no acts of adultery. That’s not the extent to which Jesus aims. You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28).  Our Lord is not after rule followers but character transformation. There are many lost people who don’t commit adultery but no one who is lost can attain the transformation Jesus speaks about here.  This is an act of God in the heart of the believer.

God has cleansed us from our sin and defilement and has set us in a place where He is beginning to sanctify us through and through.  He is after our inner purity.  

This purity is much different than what I’m going to call ceremonial purity.  

The Pharisees were seeking to be ceremonially clean but inwardly they were defiled and unclean.

Matthew 23:23–28 (ESV) 

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 

These religious leaders had spent time looking the part and looking clean but inwardly were very vile and sinful.  They were ceremonially clean but not clean inwardly, not pure in heart.  They had not learned rightly what Samuel wrote…

1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) 

But the Lordsaid to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lordsees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lordlooks on the heart.” 

We know that God’s ways are not our ways neither His thoughts our thoughts but we also need to realize God doesn’t see people like we see people.  His sight is not like our sight.  He doesn’t go by externals like we do but God has X-ray vision to see past the exterior to the inner man.  God sees who we really are.  We can hide and put on a good front for people but God is never fooled.  This is very serious and something we must be careful of because whether we admit it or not we have a little bit of Pharisee in us too. 

They had some major errors in their thinking.  First, they were engaged in a works salvation so they had a low view of sin.  Whenever someone believes they can do something on their own to appease God’s wrath because of sin they have a very low view of sin.  They also had a low view of God.  If they thought simply looking good on the outside was enough then they didn’t believe God sees the inner person and looks on the heart.  They had a high view of man.  They wanted man’s approval.  They wanted to look good to others while God could see right through them.  

They had fear of man and no fear of God, which led them into so much sin while looking the part.  We can be the exact same way if we are not careful.  We can very easily fall into the trap of fearing man and not God. 

There is a huge difference between being ceremonially clean verses being morally clean.  It’s my prayer that God is sanctifying all of us to be truly pure in heart.  Purity that is real and who we are, not some external window dressing.  

In contrast to the Pharisees who looked good on the outside but were unclean and not pure in heart on the inside, the great reformer Martin Luther wrote these words…Christ wants to have the pure, though outwardly the person may be a drudge in the kitchen, black, sooty, and grimy, doing all sorts of dirty work.

What was Luther saying? A person may have a job, perhaps that causes them to get dirty and smell bad but inwardly they are still pure in heart. Luther goes on to write, Though a common laborer, a shoemaker or a blacksmith may be dirty and sooty or may smell because he is covered with dirt and pitch…and though he stinks outwardly, inwardly he is pure incense before God because he ponders the Word of God in his heart and obeys it.

So, the dirtiest auto mechanic, and laborer may be more pure before God than anyone.  External appearance is no indication of internal purity. Stop worrying so much about outward appearance while neglecting inner purity. 

2.  What Does Pure in Heart Look Like?

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

The pure in heart are those who have had their sins forgiven and paid for by the blood of Christ.  These who now belong to God are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit to actually be pure in heart.  These are God’s people saved by Christ and being made more and more like Jesus.    

Psalm 51:10 (ESV) 

10    Create in me a clean heart, O God, 

and renew a right spirit within me. 

The pure in heart are those who are morally pure.  We must make a distinction here between pure in heart and sinless perfection.  Jesus is not saying sinless here.  

David was not sinless and God answered His prayer in Psalm 51 to place within him a pure heart.  Job would be another who I’d see as pure in heart. He was blameless and upright before God but not sinless.

The point is here that God’s work within us is to make us pure in heart.  It is an ongoing process but one that must be moving forward.  

You can see what David means by “pure heart” in Psalm 24 by the phrases that are repeated in Hebrew poetic fashion.

Psalm 24:3–6 (ESV)

   Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? 

And who shall stand in his holy place? 

   He who has clean hands and a pure heart, 

who does not lift up his soul to what is false 

and does not swear deceitfully. 

A pure heart is a heart that has nothing to do with falsehood. It is painstakingly truthful and free from deceitfulness. Deceit is what you do when you will two things, not one thing. You will to do one thing and you will that people think you are doing another. You will to feel one thing and you will that people think you are feeling another. That is impurity of heart. Purity of heart is to will one thing, namely, to “seek the face of the Lord”

Those who are pure in heart have single-mindedness toward God’s glory.  Their thinking goes something like this.  I’m going to go to the aid of the innocent, I’m going to be truthful and I’m going to be trustworthy and honest because I care too much what God thinks of me and I want His fame to spread in this world.   

Here’s what Jesus said about those who are pure in heart…

Matthew 22:37 (ESV) 

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 

So, according to Jesus the pure in heart have a single-mindedness and bent toward loving God with all their heart.  We might say it like this, I don’t care what it costs, who agrees or what people may think, I’m doing what I know to be morally upright for God’s glory.  I pray you saw the single-mindedness in that. You know being hardheaded for God’s glory is a wonderful thing.  Being stubborn for righteousness is godly.  This is what pure in heart looks like.

3.  The Pure in Heart Will See God

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

What does it mean to see God?  

            A. To be admitted into His presence

Here is where David really helps us understand Jesus’ statement.  Seeing God according to David is to ascend His hill and stand in His presence.  It doesn’t mean to just see Him.  It means to be with Him; to be admitted into His company.  The King will see you now. 

Psalm 24:3–6 (ESV)

   Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? 

And who shall stand in his holy place? 

   He who has clean hands and a pure heart, 

who does not lift up his soul to what is false 

and does not swear deceitfully. 

            B.  To seek after God

   He will receive blessing from the Lord

and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 

   Such is the generation of those who seek him,

who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

The Bible tells us there are none who seek after God.  This is true of all people in their natural condition.  Once we are born again, however, we seek hard after God.  One way we do this is striving to be pure in heart. This process brings us closer and closer to God.  Seeking God and seeking purity of heart go hand in hand.  

James summarizes this concept very well and really brings together Davids words and Jesus’ Words…

James 4:8 (ESV) 

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 

Do you see how James equates drawing near to God or as Jesus says seeing God and as David says ascending the hill and standing before God as cleansing your hands and purifying your heart?  

Notice that just like Psalm 24 there is reference to both clean hands and a pure heart as preparation for drawing near to God, or “ascending the hill of the Lord.” But notice how the men are described who need to purify their hearts: “men of double mind.” That is they are men that will two things not just one thing. The impurity of double-mindedness is explained in 

James 4:4 (ESV) 

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 

So the double-minded man of verse 8 has his heart divided between the world and God, like a wife who has a husband and a boyfriend. Purity of heart, on the other hand, is to will one thing, namely, full and total allegiance to God.

What should our response be?

The response of our hearts to God’s act of creation and Christ’s act of sacrifice is single-minded faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As the Scripture says in Acts 15:9, “God made no distinction between us and them, but purified their hearts by faith.”

God is the one who purifies the heart, and the instrument with which he cleans it is faith. Therefore, trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5). Will this one thing; a single-minded focus on God’s glory being determined to live for him and you will see God.  Realize God is working in you to will and act according to His good pleasure.  Beloved stay pure in heart and be eternally happy.

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible

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