“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)
Today we study the sixth beatitude. In it Jesus identifies another characteristic of His disciples: having a pure heart.
The Greek word for “pure” here is κατηαροσ (pronounced: kath-ar-os’). It was used to describe metals that had been refined to the point where they were free from impurities. It is the word from which we get the English word “cathartic”, which describes something that cleanses the mind.
Just like today the word “heart” back in Jesus’ day not only referred to an anatomical organ it also referred to someone’s character and motives. By referring to a purity of heart Jesus is referring to an undivided devotion toward God.
This is not easy. But God makes it clear: we cannot serve Him and the world [Matthew 6:24]. We live in a world with many temptations. Even the apostle Paul struggled with doing the right things during his life [Romans 7:15].
The problem is that none of us have a pure heart by nature [Proverbs 20:9]. But this is exactly the standard God calls us to. God’s standard is He Himself. So God has to give us a new heart – one that is pure [Psalm 51:10].
He does this only for His children – those who repent of their sins and accept His offer of forgiveness through Jesus [John 1:12]. Such people are poor in spirit and mourn over their sinful state, which are the first two beatitudes. This leads them to seek forgiveness from God and in return He gives them a new heart (i.e. new character).
The reward is that these people shall see God. The original Greek here is very interesting. The verb tense implies something that is on-going and never-ending. That is, for all eternity. Those people who by repentance have been forgiven will dwell in God’s presence forever.
Adam and Eve are the only two human beings who ever lived in God’s presence. In the Garden of Eden they had full fellowship with God. But when they brought sin into this world they could no longer be in God’s presence as God is so holy and pure that He cannot be in the presence of sin. But someday paradise will be restored.
At that time, we who belong to God through Jesus will also experience life in the presence of God and in the absence of sin. This will be a welcome relief. The world we live in is so far off-course from what God wants for us. But He gives us the freedom to make our own decisions. Sadly, all of history is pretty much nothing but bad decisions by human beings that separate them and future generations from God.
The way back into God’s presence requires a heart that is pure and desires Him only.
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