Climbing from mercy to purity
The climbing of the stairs of the beatitudes is not only stepping up for the requirements of the “blesseds” but also for the rewards. What that means is not only is it a greater challenge to seek to be pure in heart (5:8) than it is to be merciful (5:7), but the rewards also increase. We are comforted, but even better we shall inherit the earth. Better yet, we shall be filled with the righteousness of Christ by faith. Greater still, we shall receive mercy because even the righteous still need mercy. But what could be greater than that? Seeing God!
In the Old Testament, seeing God was a thing to be feared, because “no man can see God and live” (Exod. 33:20). Yet several did see God, including Moses, Isaiah, and Job said he knew that he would see God (Job 19:26, which also supports the resurrection). Seeing God was feared, yet an honor without parallel.
Who has a pure heart?
“Well you know my heart,” some will say. Oh no I don’t! Jer. 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Only God knows all the hearts of humanity (1 King. 8:39).
The first mention of the word heart was in Gen. 6:5, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” It is described as “uncircumcised, hardened, wicked, godless, defiling the whole man, resisting the repeated will of God.”
But Ezekiel promised a wonderful heart surgery in Ezek. 11:19 and 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” The Psalmist said that God can create in us a clean heart (Ps. 51:10).
In the New Testament, we see that it is with the heart man believes and it results in righteousness (Rom. 10:9-10). And it is only through that faith are our hearts purified, “So God, who knows the heart,…(gave) them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9).
Once we are saved, then we can pursue “righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” It is only after we are saved can we truly love as it says in 1 Peter 1:22 “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”
Turn to James 4:7-10 and see how closely the brother of our Lord is recalling the beatitudes.
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Old Testament parallel
Psalm 24 was undoubtedly in the Lord’s mind when he said this beatitude. It reads, “The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face.”
Pure hearts want to see God
Do you truly want to see God. In discussing whether or not God was in a sense bribing His children to be good by offering them rewards, C.S. Lewis said, “We are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.” (The Problem with Pain)
Some people don’t really want to go to heaven and they definitely would not want to see God in this lifetime. They may say they do but it is because they do not truly see their sinfulness. It is like the illustration of a mechanic who goes to work.
“Each day, the mechanic starts clean. Throughout the day, he becomes dirty; but he does not feel overly dirty because he has been like that for days on end. When he looks at himself, he thinks he is relatively clean. He started clean in the morning, and he cannot see how filthy he has become during the day.
“Imagine, however, if right after work, the mechanic went to a wedding. He tried to embrace the bride, who was wearing a pure white dress. All of the sudden, he realized that he was filthy. The purity of the white dress caused the mechanic to see his own impurity. So it is with the purity of the heart.
“The more we see the purity of Christ, the more we see our own filthiness. When we see the heavenly Bridegroom dressed in white, we see the blessedness and purity of the robe of Christ’s righteousness. The more we see the purity of Christ, the more we see the uncleanness and impurities of our own soul.” (Daily Devotional, gospelchapel.com)
A filthy person doesn’t want to be near a clean person once he realizes his filthiness. On the other hand a pure person’s greatest reward is to see the ultimate in purity of heart, the God who created us.
Some people don’t really want to go to heaven and they definitely would not want to see God in this lifetime. They may say they do but it is because they do not truly see their sinfulness. A pure person’s greatest reward is to see the ultimate in purity of heart, the God who created us.
What keeps us from seeing God?
Hebrews 12:14 speaks on seeing God, “Pursue peace with all men and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”
A filthy person doesn’t want to be near a clean person once he realizes his filthiness.