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Matthew 5:8: The Pure in Heart are Blessed to see God

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

“We come now to what is undoubtedly one of the greatest utterances to be found anywhere in the word of God. Anyone who reads these words can approach them only with a sense of awe and complete inadequacy. This is a bottomless pit, a well whose depth is immeasurable. To attempt to deal with such an incredible statement in a 40-minute sermon is almost an insult to God and to the power, depth and insight of Hos holy word. It stretches over everything else revealed in Scripture. The theme, “purity of heart” as the prerequisite to seeing God is so vast and infinite that it draws on almost every biblical principle.” –Martyn Lloyd Jones

One of my professors, Dr. Peter Connolly said, “The greatest languages the world has ever known (Greek and Hebrew) strain under the weight of God’s inspiration.” The Scriptures are God breathed. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16,17 ESV).

“Christ was dealing with men’s spirits, with their inner and spiritual nature. He did this more or less in all the Beatitudes, and this one strikes the very center of the target as he says, not ‘Blessed are the pure in language, or the pure in action,’ much less ‘Blessed are the pure in ceremonies, or in raiment, or in food;’ but ‘Blessed are the pure in heart.” –Spurgeon

Verse 8a: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

The Greek word for “pure” is katharos, (used 27 times in the New Testament) meaning physically clean and has the idea of unsoiled (free from dirt), unalloyed, without blemish, spotless, free from impure admixture or free from adulteration. We get our English word “catharsis” from this word which is used to describe a cleansing of one's mind or emotions.

Adrian Rogers notes that katharos “does not have to do so much with cleanliness, although that is inferred. It has to do more with unity or singleness of heart or mind. It literally means, blessed is that which is unmixed…And so when He says, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart,’ what he is talking about is, Blessed are those who have integrity, that do not have divided hearts. That do not have double hearts. The word literally means singleness of heart.”

“As the word katharos is used here it describes a heart which is pure in motive and which exhibits single mindedness, undivided devotion and spiritual integrity. The idea is ‘This one thing I do…’ (Philippians 3:13). So although, ‘pure in heart’ includes the idea of moral purity, that is not the primary idea of katharos or ‘pure’ in this Beatitude, here it has to do with attitudes, integrity, and singleness of heart as opposed to duplicity and double mindedness (James 4:8). Thus, one might paraphrase Jesus' words in this beatitude as… ‘I desire a heart that is unmixed in its devotion and motivation.’” –Adapted from Precept Austin

“Katharos was often used of metals that had been refined until all impurities were removed, leaving only the pure metal. In that sense, purity means unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated. Applied to the heart, the idea is that of pure motive-of single-mindedness, undivided devotion, spiritual integrity, and true righteousness. Double-mindedness has always been one of the great plagues of the church. We want to serve the Lord and follow the world at the same time. But that, says Jesus, is impossible.” –MacArthur

In classical Greek katharos described a river who course was clear and open. In a moral or ethical sense the Greeks used katharos to describe one clear from sham, clear of guilt. The word legally described one's state of being clear of or from a charge. Katharos was used to describe water which was clear of admixture and so clear or pure. It was used to describe an individual's birth as pure or genuine and thus citizens who were of pure blood.

“Katharos but also had several meanings that help understand its use in this beatitude…

1. Originally it simply meant clean, and could, for instance, be used of soiled clothes which have been washed clean.

2. It is regularly used for corn which has been winnowed or sifted and cleansed of all chaff. In the same way it is used of an army which has been purged of all discontented, cowardly, unwilling and inefficient soldiers, and which is a force composed solely of first-class fighting men.

3. It very commonly appears in company with another Greek adjective—akēratos. Akēratos can be used of milk or wine which is unadulterated with water, or of metal which has in it no tinge of alloy.” –William Barclay

Who are the “pure in heart?”

“Only those who have surrendered their hearts completely to Jesus that he may reign in them alone. Only those whose hearts are undefiled by their own evil—and by their own virtues too.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer The Cost of Discipleship

“The pure in heart are those who follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” –Vance Havner

“His heart is right with God. Wholly yielded up to His holy will. Delighting in all that is pleasing to Him. Cleansed by the blood, and open to the light....The pure in heart shall see the face of God in His Son, in His Word, and in His Providence.” –James Smith

“Why does Jesus say we should be ‘pure in heart?’ The reason is because our heart—our inner being—is the root of all our actions. From our hearts come our motives, our desires, our goals, our emotions. If our hearts aren’t right, our actions won’t be either. Jesus put it this way: ‘From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness (Mark 7:21–22). But God wants to give us a pure heart—and He will. He does this first of all when we turn to Christ in repentance and faith, ‘for the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7). But God also purifies our hearts day by day as we submit to the Holy Spirit and—with His help—flee from evil and seek what is good. “Blessed are the pure in heart.’”–Billy Graham

This verse refers us to Psalm 24:3-5, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

“Purity of heart demands our attention:

•It implies a change of heart.

•It implies that the faculties of the soul are purified.

•It implies the purity of the affections.

•It implies the purity of the thoughts and desires.

•t leads to purity of worship.

•It leads to purity of life.’ –The Biblical Illustrator

So “pure in heart” means having pure thoughts, pure motives, a pure will, and pure emotions. God requires purity at the very center of our being, our heart.

“Clean the refinery, and the result will be a pure product. We usually reverse the order. We try to change the inside by altering the outside.” –Max Lucado

“There are five types of purity:

1. Primitive purity: the kind of purity that exists only in God. It is as essential in God as light is to the sun, as wet is to water. It is His primitive purity.

2. Created purity: the creation of a pure being before the fall. God created angels in purity, created man in purity, and they both fell.

3. Ultimate purity: or glorification. All the saints of God will be completely pure. Someday we’re going to have all of our sin washed away, we’re going to be cleansed, totally clean, we’re going to dwell with God in His eternal heaven forever, at that point, experiencing ultimate purity.

4. Positional purity: the purity that we have been given right now by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. When you believe in Jesus Christ, God imputes to you a positional kind of purity. In other words, your position in Christ grants to you purity.

5. Practical purity: believers are positionally pure in Jesus Christ. Then we try to live out our position in Him. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Paul here is calling for practical living purity. God wants us to be as pure as we can be, practically, before Him.” –adapted and edited from John MacArthur

Jesus spoke against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They professed to be something they were not. Externally they did everything right, adhering meticulously to all the details of the law, yet He referred to them as being “whitewashed tombs” internally, and being “full of dead men’s bones.” Thus, obviously, the “pure in heart” did not apply to the Pharisees, according to His view of them Listen at Jesus' scathing pronouncement against external purity without purity of heart as practiced by the Pharisees “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse (verb form of katharos) the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25-28). On the outside they looked clean but inside their hearts were not pure.

The prophets wrote about inner cleansing but they chose to ignore them.

Ezekiel 11:19, “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26,27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

Ezekiel 18:31, “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

Jeremiah 32:38-40, “They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.

“Purity is not innocence, it is much more. Purity is the outcome of sustained spiritual sympathy with God. We have to grow in purity. The life with God may be right and the inner purity remain unsullied, and yet every now and again the bloom on the outside may be sullied. God does not shield us from this possibility, because in this way we realize the necessity of maintaining the vision by personal purity. If the spiritual bloom of our life with God is getting impaired in the tiniest degree, we must leave off everything and get it put right. Remember that vision depends on character - the pure in heart see God.

God makes us pure by His sovereign grace, but we have something to look after, this bodily life by which we come in contact with other people and with other points of view, it is these that are apt to sully. Not only must the inner sanctuary be kept right with God, but the outer courts as well are to be brought into perfect accord with the purity God gives us by His grace. The spiritual understanding is blurred immediately the outer court is sullied. If we are going to retain personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ, it will mean there are some things we must scorn to do or to think, some legitimate things we must scorn to touch.” –Oswald Chambers, My utmost for His highest

Verse 8b: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

The Greek word for “heart” is Kardia, used figuratively most often and refers to the center of a person’s thoughts (mind) and will. The heart usually is more general referring to the inner person, the center of life, the volitional center of our being. The heart is the seat and the hard drive of human life. It is the center of our personality, the real you who makes the decisions of life. So, to be pure in heart is to be pure in the center of your life.

Vine writes that kardia “came to denote man’s entire mental and moral activities, and to stand figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life, and so here signifies the seat of thought and feeling.”

MacArthur commenting on kardia writes that “While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., ‘He has a broken heart’), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., ‘Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders’ (Matthew 15:19). That’s why you must ‘watch over your heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions.”

The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

In The Bible the heart is the seat of:

•Adultery, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

•Desire, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel[a] is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).

•Evil, “evil is in their hearts” (Psalm 28:3).

•Hatred, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him” (Leviticus 19:17).

•Lust, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” (Romans 1:24).

•Obedience, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17).

•Purpose, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

•Rebellion, “But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed” (Jeremiah 5:23).

•Sorrow, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1).

•Doubt, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:23).

•Love, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Mark 12:30).

•Meditation, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

•Fear, “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” (Isaiah 35:4).

•Pride, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, none will go unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5).

•Rejoicing, “Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope” (Acts 2:26).

•Thought, “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4).

The heart is described as:

•Blind, “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18).

•Full of evil, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

•Lustful, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

•Darkened, “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

•Unrepentant, “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).

What is meant by a “pure heart?”

For one thing it means “single.” “Single” in scripture means, “without folds, open, nothing hidden, to make it one.” Mankind’s big problem is a divided heart, one part wants to follow God, the other, the god’s of this world (1 Kings 18:21; Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 6:24; James 1:8). The Psalmist tells us to, “Unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11). “Being pure in heart involves having a singleness of heart toward God. A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. The pure heart is marked by transparency and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. It is more than an external purity of behavior; it is an internal purity of soul.” –

Verse 8c: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

You may be sure of this promise of God: The pure in heart will experience the reality of God’s holy presence. When we experience God's forgiveness and cleansing, our eyes are opened to see Him in our circumstances in ways we never have before.

“Purity is a prerequisite for seeing God. The impure are neither granted admittance to his presence, nor are they awed by the glory of his holiness, nor are they comforted by his grace. Jesus' point is the same as Hebrews 12:14, ‘Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord’ (NLT). In other words, blessed are the holy for they shall see God. There is a real purity and a real holiness which fits us to see the king of glory.” –Adapted from

“He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9).

Seeing God Through Shattered Glass – Max Lucado

“There is a window in your heart through which you can see God. Once upon a time that window was clear. Your view of God was crisp. You could see God as vividly as you could see a gentle valley or hillside. The glass was clean, the pane unbroken. You knew God. You knew how he worked. You knew what he wanted you to do. No surprises. Nothing unexpected. You knew that God had a will, and you continually discovered what it was.

Then, suddenly, the window cracked. A pebble broke the window. A pebble of pain. Perhaps the stone struck when you were a child and a parent left home – forever. Maybe the rock hit in adolescence when your heart was broken. Maybe you made it into adulthood before the window was cracked. But then the pebble came.

Was it a phone call? “We have your daughter at the station. You’d better come down.” Was it a letter on the kitchen table? “I’ve left. Don’t try to reach me. Don’t try to call me. It’s over. I just don’t love you anymore.” Was it a diagnosis from the doctor? “I’m afraid our news is not very good.” Was it a telegram? “We regret to inform you that your son is missing in action.”

Whatever the pebble’s form, the result was the same – a shattered window. The pebble missiled into the pane and shattered it. The crash echoed down the halls of your heart. Cracks shot out from the point of impact, creating a spider web of fragmented pieces.

And suddenly God was not so easy to see. The view that had been so crisp had changed. You turned to see God, and his figure was distorted. It was hard to see him through the pain. It was hard to see him through the fragments of hurt. You were puzzled. God wouldn’t allow something like this to happen, would he? Tragedy and travesty weren’t on the agenda of the One you had seen, were they? Had you been fooled? Had you been blind?

The moment the pebble struck, the glass became a reference point for you. From then on, there was life before the pain and life after the pain. Before your pain, the view was clear; God seemed so near. After your pain, well, he was harder to see. He seemed a bit distant…harder to perceive. Your pain distorted the view – not eclipsed it, but distorted it. We look for God, but can’t find him. Fragmented glass hinders our vision. He is enlarged through this piece and reduced through that one. Lines jigsaw their way across his face. Large sections of shattered glass opaque the view. And now you aren’t quite sure what you see. When you can’t see him, trust him.”

When we experience God's forgiveness and cleansing, our eyes are opened to see Him in our circumstances in ways we never have before. If your heart is clouded because you've resisted God, clear it by yielding to Him. With a heart purified by Christ, you will see Him everywhere around you today.

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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