Blessed Are the Pure in Heart
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8
The Greek word for heart is “kardia” - think “cardiac arrest." We talk about the heart being at our center when we express ideas like “I love you with all of my heart" or “Let’s get to the heart of the matter." This is how “heart” is used in Scripture (105 times in 98 verses in the New Testament alone). In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." In Matthew 5:8, Jesus is saying that those who are blessed by God are those who are pure of heart.
Our Heart Problem
But we've got a problem. Scripture tells us that the heart of man is anything but pure; in fact, it says the human heart is wicked. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?" (NKJV) We might think of purity of the heart as someone with pure motives, but that’s not what Jesus is saying here. The Greek word means to be genuine, free from things that would make something impure (e.g., there is nothing in pure gold but gold). Here, Jesus is talking about the heart of someone whose sins have been forgiven and made new - not from anything they have done but by the Spirit’s presence in their lives.
It’s almost summer and I thought of iced tea at a summer picnic. Just think about it, a tall glass of clean, cool iced tea. But let’s say something falls into that tea - like a dreaded picnic fly. That impurity has messed up the entire glass of tea. Nobody I know wants to drink tea that has had a fly in it. I can remove the fly and the tea looks pure, but now there are impure things in that tea I cannot see. Outward, human righteousness might lead people to think we are pure, but that won't cut it with God who sees our heart.
Seeing God Means Being Allowed into His Presence
When we call a doctor and ask, “Can I see Dr. Henry today?” we don’t mean, "Can I see him from a distance?" We mean, "Can I get an appointment to be with him?" But given the fact that God told Moses, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Ex. 33:20), what exactly is Jesus saying here in Matthew 5:8?
When we want someone to understand what we are explaining, we say, “Can you see what I mean?" When we want someone to change their mind, we want them to "see it our way." When we want someone to understand something completely, we want them to "see it clearly." When we know that experience will help someone understand a situation, we prepare them by saying "just wait, you'll see.” We don’t usually mean they will literally see; we mean, "You'll understand, or you'll get it then.”
Being pure in heart means we’ve allowed Him to live through us and, as a result, we can really see Him.
Our spiritual health is similar to our physical health. Sin is a virus that slips in and during its incubation period it slowly infects our entire life unnoticed. By the time we recognize the sin in our lives, it has entrenched itself so deep that we are not sure how to get spiritually healthy.
That’s when we have to let the Holy Spirit do His job and make us pure in heart. Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts; And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 51:10 says "Create in me a clean heart, O God.”
What in our life is keeping us from spiritual purity and a deeper relationship with God? Is it some desire that we know doesn’t please God or an attitude toward someone else? Matthew 5:8 calls us to leave our sin behind, put all of our faith in Him, allow Him to search and cleanse us so we can experience what pure in heart really means, and truly see Him in our lives.