************ Sermon on Matthew 5:8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 15, 1999
"Blessed are the Pure in Heart"
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." Here we see that the child of God is distinctly different from the child of the world – he or she is pure. This morning Jesus urges us to keep that distinction alive, to maintain our difference.
Topic: PurityThat's the way it is when the child of God loses his or her purity – he or she is no longer different, distinct, from the people of the world.
A farmer went each week to the Farmers' Market to sell, among other things, the cottage cheese and apple butter made on his farm. He carried these in two large tubs, from which he ladled the cottage cheese or apple butter into smaller containers the customers brought.
One day he got to the Market and discovered he'd forgotten one of his ladles. He had no choice but to use the one he did bring for both products.
Before long, as the two products got mixed in with each other, he couldn't tell which was which.
I The Heart
A Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart." The heart. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned about the heart.
"Blessed are the pure in heart." Notice, Jesus puts His emphasis upon the heart and not the head. He does not commend those who are intellectual; His interest is in the heart. This is a reminder that the Christian faith is ultimately not a matter of correct doctrine. The emphasis of the Christian faith can never rest on understanding or intellect. Yet, let me hasten to add that doctrine, understanding, and intellect are important – but they are not most important. The Christian faith is not first of all a matter of the head; rather, it is first of all a matter of the heart.
B "Blessed are the pure in heart." Notice, Jesus puts His emphasis upon the heart and not conduct. The Pharisees take the opposite approach. Their emphasis falls upon conduct, ethics, and behavior. They reduce the way of life and righteousness to external deeds. Be careful! for Christianity is also not primarily a matter of conduct and external behavior. It starts with the question: What is the state of the heart?
C What does Jesus mean by "heart"? The heart means the center of being and personality; it is the fount out of which everything else comes. It includes the mind; it includes the will; it includes the soul; it includes the emotions. It is the total man.
Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart". By this He means those who are pure not merely on the surface but in the center of their being and at the source of their every activity. Jesus blesses, pronounces happy many times over, those whose total existence is marked by purity.
D "Blessed are the pure in heart." The heart. It is clear from the Bible that the heart is not merely the center of our being but also the root of all our troubles. I am sure you know the words of Jesus:
(Mt 15:19) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
The terrible, terrible fallacy of the last hundred years has been to think that man's troubles are due to other causes. Some blame the environment and to change the man, they say, all you have to do is change the environment. What a foolish belief. It overlooks the fact that it was in Paradise, a perfect environment, that man's problems first began. Others blame genetics. Crime, alcoholism, drug abuse, homosexualism, sexual abuse, and so on all arise from defective genes and damaged chromosomes. Again, this overlooks the fact that it was in a perfect body, one without any defects, that man's problems first began. And still others blame ignorance, a lack of knowledge, and all you have to do to get rid of problems, they say, is to educate the wicked man, woman, or child. This overlooks the fact that man, as created by God, had a true knowledge of God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral.
It is out of the heart that man's problems arise. And we can not and must not try to lay the blame elsewhere. We need to remember what the prophet Jeremiah says:
(Jer 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? As the result of the fall into sin, man's heart is desperately wicked and deceitful. Man's troubles, in other words, are at the very center of his being.
A "Blessed are the pure in heart." Pure. What does that mean? Purity has two meanings. First, it means "without defilement, cleansed, washed."
Subtopic: Spiritual Commanded
Title: Illegal Bathing
Did you know -- In 1842 the first bathtub was denounced as a "luxurious and democratic vanity". Boston made it unlawful to bathe, except on a doctor's prescription. In 1843 Philadelphia made bathing illegal between November 1 and March 15.
How tragic that most people have a similar attitude toward spiritual cleansing. They would rather put up with the stench of their sin than come clean before God!
"Without defilement, cleansed, washed." It's important to have this kind of purity. The Apostle John tells us that nothing or no one impure will enter into the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:27; 22:14). There simply is no place for impurity in the heavenly city. So to have a place in the Kingdom, we must be pure, cleansed, washed, without defilement.
Subtopic: Spiritual Commanded
Title: Throw Out the Old
Those inventive people, the Italians, have a good custom. As midnight on New Year's Eve approaches, the streets are clear. There is no traffic; there are no pedestrians; even the policemen take cover. Then, at the stroke of 12, the windows of the houses fly open. To the sound of laughter, music and fireworks, each member of the family pitches out old crockery, detested ornaments, hated furniture and a whole catalogue of personal possessions which remind them of something in the past year they are determined to be cleansed of.
B "Blessed are the pure in heart." Pure. There is also a second meaning. It means not only to be cleansed but also to be "sincere, without hypocrisy, single-minded." One of the best expressions of this kind of purity is to be found in the Psalms: "... give me an undivided heart ..." (Ps 86:11c).
"Give me an undivided heart." That's what it means to be pure. "Give me an undivided heart." We don't want to be hypocrites. We don't want to be double-minded.
Topic: HypocrisyThis is an example of unbridled hypocrisy, of self-serving double-mindedness.
The death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is reputed to have been caused by a seizure suffered at a meeting of the Presidium, the Communist party executive committee. Livid with fury, Stalin leaped from his seat, only to crash to the floor unconscious. While other Presidium members stared at the prone figure, scheming bureaucrat Laverenti Beria jumped up and danced around the body shouting, "We're free at last! Free at last!" But as Stalin's daughter forced her way into the room and fell on her knees by her father, the dictator stirred and opened one eye. Beria at once dropped down beside Stalin, seized his hand, and covered it with kisses.
"Give me an undivided heart." If we are honest, we have to admit the trouble with us is a divided heart. One part of me wants to know and worship and serve God; but another part of me wants something entirely different. Paul speaks for all of us when he says:
(Rom 7:21-24) So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (22) For in my inner being I delight in God's law; (23) but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (24) What a wretched man I am!
The Pharisees were especially good at being divided, double-minded, insincere. More than once Jesus condemned their hypocrisy (Mt 15:7-11; 23:13,15,23,25,27,29). Listen to what Jesus says about their double-mindedness:
(Mt 23:25,27) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (27) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
It's easy, really easy, to condemn the Pharisees. But are we any different? Are we much better? For instance,
1. We sing "Sweet Hour of Prayer" and are content with 5-10 minutes a day.
2. We sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and wait to be drafted into His service.
3. We sing "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" and don't use the one we have.
4. We sing "Blest Be the Tie That Binds" and let the least little offense sever it.
5. We sing "Serve the Lord With Gladness" and gripe about all we have to do.
6. We sing "I Love To Tell the Story" and never mention it at all.
7. We sing "The Whole Wide World for Jesus" and never invite our next-door neighbor.
8. We sing "O Day of Rest and Gladness" and wear ourselves out on Sunday with travel, visits, meals, and a thousand other things.
C "Blessed are the pure in heart." Pure, that is "without defilement, cleansed, washed." Pure, that is "sincere, without hypocrisy, single-minded." In other words, we have to be like Jesus. Quoting from Isaiah, the Apostle Peter says about Christ,
(1Pt 2:22) "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." And just prior to this Peter tells us to "follow in his steps." Like Jesus, we have to be spotless and pure, genuine and true. Like Jesus, we should live to the glory of God. Like Jesus, our greatest desire should be to do the will of God.
Topic: HolinessI wonder, do unbelievers sense our godly influence? If we are identified with Christ and walk in purity, they will – before we even mention religion.
In his powerful book the "Holiness of God", R.C. Sproul observes that unbelievers often feel uneasy in the presence of an obedient Christian. The holiness of God reflected in a believer's life makes the non-Christian uncomfortable. Sproul then tells the following true incident to illustrate his point.
A well-known professional golfer was playing in a tournament with President Gerald Ford, fellow pro Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. After the round was over, one of the other pros on the tour asked, "Hey, what was it like playing with the President and Billy Graham?" The pro said with disgust, "I don't need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat!" With that he headed for the practice tee. His friend followed, and after the golfer had pounded out his fury on a bucket of golf balls, he asked, "Was Billy a little rough on you out there?" The pro sighed and said with embarrassment, "No, he didn't even mention religion."
Sproul comments, "Astonishingly, Billy Graham had said nothing about God, Jesus, or religion, yet the pro stomped away after the game accusing Billy of trying to ram religion down his throat." What had happened? Simply this: The evangelist had so reflected Christlikeness that his presence made the pro feel uncomfortable.
D "Blessed are the pure in heart." How does this purity become ours? Can we make ourselves pure? There are some who say we can. All we have to do is separate ourselves from the sin and evil of the world and we will make ourselves pure. We must become monks or nuns or Amish or Hutterites.
Is this the way to go in order to make ourselves pure? Remember what I said about the heart of man? Man's heart is desperately corrupt, so desperately corrupt that not one of us can possibly make ourselves pure. And, don't forget, wherever we go we take our sinful heart with us.
Purity of the heart, obviously, has to be and is a work of God and His grace.
Think first of purity as being "without defilement, cleansed, washed." That's what we are only in Christ. Take a sheet of white paper and look at it through green sunglasses. The white sheet looks green. When God looks at us through the blood of Christ, unclean hearts become clean in His sight.
Think of purity as being "sincere, without hypocrisy, single-minded." Again, that's what we are only in Christ. God works in us with Christ's Spirit both "to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil 2:13), so that we live out and practice what we believe.
I say what I said before: purity of the heart, obviously, has to be and is a work of God and His grace. Having said that, I also have to say that we can not remain passive, idle, and inactive in the whole matter of purity. God expects action and reaction on our part:
(James 4:7-8) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.The fact that I know that I cannot ultimately purify and cleanse my heart does not mean I should walk in the gutters of life waiting for God to cleanse me. I must do everything I can to walk in holiness and sincerity. I must do all I can to avoid sin and evil. I must do everything I can even though I know it is not enough and that in the final analysis it is God Who must purify me.
III See God
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." All the beatitudes finish with a promise. The poor in spirit will receive the Kingdom of heaven, the mourning will be comforted, the meek will inherit the earth, and so on. In essence all these promises are the same. They speak of a reward in the New Jerusalem.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." See God. This promise is extraordinary. All the other blessings of the Beatitudes are summarized in this one. To see God is the highest heavenly bliss. You know what Paul says,
(1Cor 13:12) Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.And John says,
(1Jn 3:2) Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." What an amazing thing to say – that you and I, such as we are, pressed with all the problems and troubles of this life, are going to see Him face to face. You and I are meant for the audience chamber of God; you are I are being prepared to enter into the presence of the King of kings. Do you believe it? Will it happen to you? Do you realize that a day is coming you are going to see the blessed God face to face? Not as in a glass, darkly; but face to face. You and I are going to enjoy God, and to spend eternity in His glorious and eternal presence.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
Are you one of the blessed, happy ones who, in Christ, are pure in heart?
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