Blessed Are the Pure in Heart
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Standard;Mt 5:8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

We'll go right to the paraphrase for this beatitude. “How fortunate are the sincerely hopeful,  for they shall be astonished in seeing God.”

In keeping with the flow of the beatitudes, we have the merciful who extend mercy with no questions asked. Mercy is needed. Mercy is extended. Motive shmotive. The pure in heart are by nature merciful, they live without ulterior motives. Their actions are without hypocrisy, what you see is what you get with the pure in heart.  

And again, we remind you that this beatitude requires interaction with others. It is a “we-attitude.”  With a person who is pure in heart there is no attempt at deception, no distortion. The pure in heart make lousy poker players, because they can't hide how they feel at any given moment.

The world views this as a curse, but are you kidding me? It is these kind of believers who God chooses to show Himself to in astonishing ways. The word “see” here in the Greek means, to gaze with wide open eyes at something remarkable.
This is the facial expression of the pure in is the biggest surprise at the best birthday party you've ever seen. That's the kind of stuff that God will show the pure in heart! Blessed are the pure in heart!

The pure in heart, unfortunately, are a rare breed. Not that we have to be! When the Holy Spirit comes to us in our baptism, He brings the capability for purity of heart to all believers.

But what happens? From infancy, we are told to hide our true feelings. We learn to hide them because it seems  when we do allow them to surface, we get laughted at or burnt by others. I pray we can overcome this fear, and stop the outward facade of doublemindedness as we trust these words of Jesus.  I pray that we will become lousy poker players. The pure,  who will see amazing things from God!

Yes, the pure in heart are rare. Is it any wonder that Jesus made special note of Nathaniel? Here was an Israelite in whom there was no deceit. No guile. Here was a man of sincerity, and Jesus made special note of it.  A man ready to think the best and believe the best about others. A man with no ulterior motives. Let's look at the encounter between Jesus and Nathaniel, because it is a great picture of this beatitude:

 Joh 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
 46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"  Observe the honesty of Nathaniel. This is how he truly felt. He didn't hide from Phillip what he believed about Nazareth.

(Not necessarily a pure response, but the pure in heart are not prefect, but they are willing to believe the best, to give others the benefit of the doubt.

Philip said to him, "Come and see."

And Nathaniel, willing to believe the best, goes with Phillip.

 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"   (Jesus makes it clear....this is a rare breed....the pure in heart.

 48 Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?"

Nathaniel knows his own reputation. The pure in heart can't hide it, as I said before they make lousy poker players. Others can see what they call naivety all over their faces. Nathaniel is comfortable with who he is, but he is puzzled. How can this man who never played poker with him, know this about him?

Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
 49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"

And right away, we see the connection between the sincerely hopeful and the literal promise of being astonished by God.  Nathaniel the one of pure heart is immediately astonished.

 50 Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."
 51 And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Now, let me show you something else here. Notice the reference that Jesus makes to the Old Testament account of Jacob's Ladder. The famous prophetic dream of Jacob, the guileful, the complete opposite of Nathaniel. He was always conniving. You didn't want to get in a poker game with Jacob. He'd walk away with your blessing and your birthright. Just ask Esau!

Hold that thought and then let's look at 2 Samuel 22:27 we read,  With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure;  (The pure in heart will see the purity of God and be astonished.

But listen to the rest of this verse. “and with the froward ( the devious, the insincere) thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury. {the word unsavory means to wrestle. Do you know anyone whom God wrestled with in the Bible? Jacob the deceiver, the complete opposite of pure in heart! God wants to wrestle away your scheming heart.

Do you struggle with deceit? Improper motives? Negative attitudes toward others? Writing others off? Then God wants to wrestle with you!

Blessed are the sincere for they will see amazing things of God, and don't you know that Jacob saw amazing things after his encounter with God. Read about in in the Book of Genesis. .

There are other passages in Scripture, that link blessing with sincereity:

Ps 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

1 Peter 3:10, Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceit;

Be pure and love life instead of dreading it! Be pure and see good days. The pure don't have to while away their days scheming and wondering if their angle is going to work.

Now, you and I may be tempted to say, well, this sincerity and purity and naivety may work for Nathaniel, but that's not who I am. Friend, just as mercy is not an option for the believer, so it is with sincerity.  

Ps 24:3-5 says, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, (the pure in heart are then defined in the rest of the verse) “who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord!”  

Do not give falsehood a place in your heart!

So what can we do to work with the Lord in this process of purifying our heart? First of all, wrestle!Wrestle with His Word! Don't neglect the Word of God. Luther rightly said that the “pure ponders the Word of God in his heart and obeys it.”

Ps 119:9,10  echoes that sentiment. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. With my whole heart (undivided hunger) I seek  You; ( Be a turth seeking missle!) let me not wander from Your commandments.”                    Why?

Ps 19:8, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Because God's commandments are pure!)

Do you want to join the ranks of the pure in heart?  Listen to 2 Timothy 2:22, “”flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace ALONG WITH THOSE WHO CALL ON THE LORD FROM A PURE HEART.  You see that's what the pure in  heart do! Tag ALONG with them!

Further, you were purified for a purpose. 1 Peter 1:22, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth (the gospel) for a SINCERE (pure) brotherly love, love one another earnestly (with a sense of urgency) from a pure heart. (Pure motives)

Learn to be gracious to one another. Learn to speak graciously to one another. Prov 16:26, “”gracious words are pure!”

Be gracious to one another in how you act! Prov 21:8, “the conduct of the pure is upright!”

Fight to be pure. Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure all things are pure.” What did the Holy Spirit mean by that?  I think he meant that the pure in heart look for and hope for the good in others. Beethoven was quoted as saying, “Only the pure in heart can make good soup.” I was really puzzled by that until I saw this passage in Titus.

You see the maker of pea soup sees some good in that hambone that others throw out. The good cook, uses the gizzards and the neckbone of the chicken to make great chicken soup. The pure in heart believes the best and hopes the best in others. The pure in heart are filled with the love spoken of in 1 Cor 13, the pure in heart  “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.” 1 Cor 13:7

The pure in heart believe that God can make a difference in the lives of others!  Luther sums this up so well in the 8th commandment. “Thou shalt not ear false witness against thy neighbor.'

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we do not deceitfully lie about, betray, backbite, nor slander our neighbor BUT defend him, speak well of him, and put the most charitable construction on all that he does.”

What is he saying? He is saying that thou shalt hold out a pure heart to thy neighbor!

And do you see how this pure attitude lends itself to our next beatitude of peacemaking? Use the good as a starting point to make peace! I remember struggling with unforgiveness toward my father for years. I felt he was a lousy Dad.

Because of this we had a very cold relationship. It wasn't until God told me to focus on the good things that the coldness melted and peace was restored!

If Nathaniel was not willing to give this Nazarene the benefit of the doubt,  where would've he been? He would've been left behind. But because he had this quality of a sincere heart, because his motives were pure, he was invited to tag along and be astonished by God.

Do you want to be astonished by God? The word speaks of wide eyed amazement! It starts in the here and now as the pure in heart see God moving in amazing ways. I've seen it! I know people who have demostrated pure hearts and I have seen God grant them amazing answers to prayer.

I know others who have a purity in heart and God shows them amazing things in His Word!

But it's not only in the here and now. The real jaw dropping amazement will be the privilege of seeing Jesus coming in His glory to take the pure in heart to be home with Him in final glory!

There is an unavoidable spiritual truth connected with the pure in heart. They look for what is true. They want to see what is really true, what is beyond deception. They want to experience it in their own lives. To want such things is to want to see God because God is pure. God is beyond deception. The Bible says He is not a man that He should lie!

John Stott in his book on the beatitudes says, “only the utterly sincere can bear the dazzling vision in whose light the darkness of deceit must vanish and by whose fire all shams are burned up.”
Are you ready to let God burn up your shams? Are you ready to become real? Then seek purity.
How fortunate are the sincere for they will be astonished by what God reveals to them. Believe it beloved! Seek to be a person without guile, someone who believes the best and hopes for the best in others. Then stand by and be ready to see God show you amazing and astonishing things.