What a Christian is: Part 8
If someone asked for a person who was “pure in heart” I wouldn’t be the first to raise my hand. I may not know everything that is in my heart… but I know enough to not claim that it’s pure.
But Jesus claims that. He claims that about every Christian. In his 6th beatitude, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
On the first read, this seems confused––it’s fine to say that the pure in heart are going to be blessed, but nobody can really BE that. Jesus seems to be saying otherwise. But, how can that be?
It has to do with the previous 5 beatitudes. We don’t need to assume that “purity in heart” means a heart that has always been pure or one that is completely pure in every sense. In fact, Jesus helps us to see what he means, here in Matthew, with something he says in John 15: “‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser… Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:1–4). The pure in heart are those who have been changed and transformed by the word that Jesus speaks. What word is that? It is the message of his gospel––to repent and respond to the kingdom.
I love the way A.W. Pink answers this question; he says, “Ah, Christian reader, the truth is, one of the most conclusive evidences that we do possess a pure heart is to be conscious of and burdened with the impurity which still indwells us” (“The Sermon on the Mount,” 33).
Instead of reading “pure in heart” as totally pure already, we should recognize purity as being purified: “Blessed are the pur-IFIED in heart.” The purified have responded to Jesus by seeing their emptiness and poverty of Spirit, mourning it, and hungering for Christ. This is his promise all over again that he will forgive, he will satisfy, he will purify––and pour out his blessings.
And what blessing does Jesus have in mind? When he promises that the pure in heart will “see God,” he is promising much more than a spiritual experience. He is promising the end of curse. He’s promising to restore us to fellowship with God. We read that in Revelation 22:3-4. Its language is about the fulfillment of ALL of God’s promises that have already begun to be fulfilled during Jesus’s ministry, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”
And so, dear Christian, don’t forget the reward of the gospel. Jesus has made you a promise. It is the promise he makes to everyone who walks with him in repentance. Faith is hard, but it’s through the eyes of faith that we see the Lord. And faith will carry us to that last day when all the blessings of God are realized, when faith turns to sight.