BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY WILL SEE GOD. Matthew 5:8 New International Version
Welcome dear friends to our discourse on the clear heart. We’ve spent a great amount of time on the mixed heart condition because it is the condition that stands in the middle of the heart conditions. To get to the clear heart condition there has to be a made-up mind and determination about the Lord. The heart has to be set on Jesus and nothing more. The mixed heart condition has shown us a heart that is divided; a heart that is connected to both God and the world.
The 5th chapter of Matthew introduces us to Jesus’ sermon on the Mount. A humongous crowd had gathered so Jesus went on the mount where he could be seen and heard by all. Matthew 5 presents Jesus’ sermon in its entirety, and I must say, being a teacher myself, that Jesus was pretty long winded. One of the more touching things in this passage aside from the teachings of the Lord is the willingness of the people to hear what the Lord had to say and the hunger for those teachings that spoke in volumes through their want to stay to hear the Master. This crowd was not in a huge, air-conditioned edifice with cushioned pews and hand fans. These people where on the outside in the heat, at the foot of a mountain receiving and eating the words of the Master teacher. No one was in a rush to leave. Some of us today with the many comforts in the houses of worship or the church, get right antsy after praise and worship. Some of us are ready to leave before we can get in the door. No, it doesn’t take God all day to move, as I hear so many say after being an hour in the house of worship, but what if he wanted all day? We must understand that when we enter into the presence of God He is in control. In His presence there is no rush to leave. In fact, the presence of God takes us away from the cares and pressures of this life and sets us down in the peace and joy of the Lord. We sit with him in a heavenly place when we are in His presence. If any person is in a rush to depart the presence of the Lord, then something is seriously wrong. A rush to get away indicates a divided heart. A clear heart in the presence of God does not think on money, work, cars, houses and land. The clear heart in God’s presence does not think on family, friends, good times, movies, carousing, lovers, and food. A clear heart in the presence of God is all about what he or she is sharing with God in those moments. The clear heart in the presence of God is enjoying what he or she is sharing with the Lord; the sweet communion that encompasses laughter, teasing, talking, the sharing of one another hearts, the spiritual insights given, the questions asked, and answers given, the praise and the worship; even the basking in the powerful silence of God. Psalm 16:11 from the English Standard Version sums up what we just described this way:
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Because of this very truth the clear heart does not rush when in the presence of God.
The Beatitudes is what Jesus’ sermon on the mount is entitled. I choose to think that the Beatitudes simply mean: Be this type of attitude people or persons. We will list the beatitudes at the end of our discourse yet, our focus will be on the 8th beatitude which will in fact cover basically all of the attitudes: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
Jesus’ sermon encompassed much. He taught on the subjects of murder, Christian lifestyle, oaths or vows. He taught on adultery, divorce, vengeance and love for our enemies. So, as we can see through this list of topics, Jesus covered a lot of ground.
Our discourse on the mixed heart condition is a condition that every believer will experience in order to get to the clear heart condition. From Jesus’ sermon we can rightfully see that the heart condition is most important to him. All of the Beatitudes are a matter of the heart. As we have seen throughout our many discourses, the heart can be pretty tricky. We again quote Jeremiah 17: 9-10 from the Message Bible: JEREMIAH 17:9-10: “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful; a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” (The Message Bible)
The clear heart or pure heart condition has been interpreted by many with limits. Often this passage of scripture is interpreted as a future event only; a future event where the believer will physically reign with our heavenly Father. Our intent at this time is to flip this understanding to give a more accurate explanation of the believer’s ability to see God prior to the manifested reign in the physical Kingdom. The honest truth is that it is our ability to see God now in our present that stabilizes the clear heart condition. We will discuss this more in our discourse. We will now begin to look at several passages of scriptures that will reference the heart and elaborate as much as the Spirit instructs on these passages.
As humans, we judge a person from the outside. This is what Jesus had to say to religious people who appeared righteous; people who were judged to be righteous from an outward appearance.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity (greed). You blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean. (Matthew 23:25–26)
Despite the outward works and appearances of people, these two things; outward works and appearances is not what deems a man or woman righteous in the sight of God. Because our earthly father and mother took from the tree of the knowledge of both good and evil and did eat, all people are able to do both; good and evil. Some of the chief sinners are able to do some of the greatest and most awe-inspiring works yet, their hearts are far from the Lord. Let’s look at the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They walked around receiving praises and honor from men because of their positions, their outward religious garb or clothing and their ability to quote and tote scripture. The Pharisees wore what is called phylactery which is: a small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum, (fine parchment made originally from the skin of a calf) worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law. I can partially appreciate the symbolism of the phylactery box, yet I have to agree with King David who said in Psalm 119:11 from the amplified version: Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You. From the different instances recorded in the bible where Jesus rebuked the religious leaders, it is most apparent that the scriptures around their necks was hanging word and not indwelling word. Today we have people just like the religious leaders. There is an outward display of religion with no inward possession of righteousness. With words and profession only, many claim a union with God.
I have in this lifetime seen those of them who faithfully wear a cross necklace as did the religious leaders with their scripture boxes. There is nothing wrong with wearing the necklace of course yet what is wrong many times is the attitude and purpose for the worn cross. I have heard many sinners say that the wearing of their cross necklace is for protection and blessings from the Lord. In this case the wearing of the cross takes on the definition of the word amulet which means: am·u·let: a charm (such as an ornament) often inscribed with a magic incantation or symbol to aid the wearer or protect against evil (such as disease or witchcraft) If the wearing of the cross is the means to obtaining blessings from the Lord and protection from the Lord then we should hang crosses on the necks of all men and women, boys and girls. Can you catch my point? The wearing of the cross is not what gets God’s attention so to speak. Bearing within our hearts the work of the cross is what puts us in a right standing with God and holds his attention towards us. I have heard some believers say that the wearing of the cross necklace identifies them as a believer. Identifies us as a believer to who? It is certainly not an identifying agent to God. We have quoted Romans 8: 9 in earlier discourses and we will again quote this passage for the benefit of this discourse. The International Version: You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
So, then the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit is the identifying Agent of the believer. It is not the outward work, or the jewelry (the Jesus on the cross necklace) nor the religious garb, lingo nor the dress codes. It is not the pastoral collars and robes. None of these indicate a clear heart. Regardless to how we attempt to dress up before man to appear holy and righteous, God sees and knows the heart. I am reminded of the fig tree incident in Mark 11th chapter. Please keep in mind that there are various insights to the fig tree incident. We are going to use an insight that is applicable to our thought.
Mark 11: 11-14/ New International Version:
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. 12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
From the curse of the fig tree Jesus travel on to Jerusalem and entered the temple (House of God) In the temple he found the folk buying and selling like they were in the marketplace. Jesus tore the temple up. One writer said he braided some rope together making a nice whip. He turned the tables and benches over and a few of them could rightfully say they were whipped by the Lord. What perturbed Jesus so is that the house of God represented holiness and righteousness. It was a sacred place, a place where the presence and peace of God was to abound; a house where prayer could be made, and answers found. A place of provision for troubled hearts, souls, and minds yet men turned it into a den of thievery and robbery. It became a place of misrepresentation. After cleansing the temple Jesus and the disciples left.
20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
The fig tree, just like the temple, had given misrepresentation. Being in leaf the fig tree suggested or indicated that it had food to meet the need of the hungry. Yet when the hungry drew near there was nothing on the tree but a show of leaves. It had no food. The fruit of a fig tree normally produces before the leaves and is hidden among the leaves. To see a fig tree in leaf as previously stated is to imply that fruit is on the tree. In this case of the fig tree, it has the leaves but didn’t have the fruit. The presence of a fruitful fig tree was considered to be a symbol of blessing and prosperity for the nation of Israel. Likewise, the absence or death of a fig tree would symbolize judgment and rejection. Symbolically, the fig tree represented the spiritual deadness of Israel, who while very religious outwardly with all the sacrifices and ceremonies, were spiritually barren because of their sins. By cleansing the Temple and cursing the fig tree, causing it to wither and die, Jesus was pronouncing His coming judgment of Israel and demonstrating His power to carry it out. It also teaches the principle that religious profession and observance are not enough to guarantee salvation, unless there is the fruit of genuine salvation evidenced in the life of the person. The lesson of the fig tree is that we should bear spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), not just give an appearance of religiosity. God judges fruitlessness and expects that those who have a relationship with Him will “bear much fruit” (John 15:5-8).
Herein lies some great spiritual truths that we should meditate on and pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to make these truths applicable in our lives. Religious profession and observances are not enough to guarantee salvation. Let’s talk about this for a moment. Romans 10: 9-11 from the International Version says this: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Now professing Christianity and keeping of holy days or observances doesn’t actually make one righteous. I have heard people say ” Oh I celebrate Christmas and Easter as well as thanksgiving. Others have said, “oh I keep the Sabbath. I don’t do anything on the sabbath from 6am to 6pm. The scribes and pharisees kept the feast days, and sacrifices yet, Jesus rebuke them for their hypocrisies, their outward displays of pureness and cleanness but inward filth of unrighteousness.
The heart is what you are, in the secrecy of your thought and feeling, when nobody knows but God. And what you are at the invisible root matters as much to God as what you are at the visible branch. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). From the heart are all the issues of life. What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart . . . For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man” (Matthew 15:18–19). “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit . . . For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:33–34). So, the heart is utterly crucial to Jesus. What we are in the deep, private recesses of our lives is what He cares about most. Jesus did not come into the world simply because we have some bad habits that need to be broken. He came into the world because we have such dirty hearts that need to be purified. (John Piper March 2, 1986 Blessed are the pure in heart)
Within the heart dwells who we really are and because of this, the focus of the Holy Spirit is centered. Seeing within the heart what is good and what is bad the Holy Spirit will begin his work to root out what should not be and magnify what should. As we stated in the mixed heart condition, the Holy Spirit’s ministry within us goes into overdrive in the mixed heart condition to bring us to the clear heart condition. To reach the clear heart condition, the Holy Spirit must have from us, total submission. Without total submission the clear heart will not be fully made.
Bearing in mind what the above scriptures have referenced regarding the heart, we should really be amazed, shocked and saddened by many things that we say and do knowing that if those things were not within our heart, we would not say nor act. The excuses made to justify something said and done that is completely wrong is not acceptable to the Lord. What is acceptable is the acknowledgement of discovered hidden sins and repentance from these sins. This is what clears the heart. I have heard many believers ask the Lord to show them hidden sins and once those hidden sins manifest through either a confrontation with someone or a circumstance that is used to uproot and reveal, the believer, instead of accepting what has been revealed, will make excuses to justify those sins. Bearing in mind Jeremiah 17:9-10 stating how the heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it, only God knows the depths of the heart and deals with it by the Holy Ghost for what lies within. We don’t know the depths of our own hearts.
Many people who are incarcerated today would never have believed that he or she would have committed the crimes committed if they were told many years prior to the incidents that such crimes would have occurred. Many thought they knew their own hearts and that such acts committed was nowhere in both mind and heart. Some crimes were committed in anger, others through lust, greed or want. Some were committed through unhealthy passions and then others through selfishness. Each of the named circumstance of emotion stemmed from the heart. In saying this we can rightfully see how our thoughts, emotions and ways must be committed to the Lord. When we commit our ways unto the Lord He will instruct and guide and all He ask from us is surrender and obedience. To attempt to live this life apart from God and his instructions leads to misery, illusions, and deception. We do not know our hearts people of God. Only God does.
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