Garry continued his series ‘Looking For Heroes’ last night by preaching on Matt 5:8 TNIV (‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’)
‘Pure’ meana to be clean, to be purified, washed out, cleared of stains. It can be used literally (think of all those washing powder advertisements!) and figuratively. When Jesus healed lepers, they were clean and pure; in John 15:3 TNIV, Jesus told His disciples that they were already clean because of the word He had spoken to them.
In our natural state, however, we are not pure. Prov 20:9 TNIV and Rom 3:23 TNIV makes this very plain: we cannot keep our hearts pure. The only way we can ascend the hill of the Lord is to have clean hands and a pure heart (Ps 24:3-4 TNIV), but purity is not something we can attain on our own. The most we can ever hope to achieve is to be ‘pure in our own eyes’ (see Prov 30:11-12 TNIV), which might seem good enough if we’re comparing ourselves to other people, but won’t stand comparison with God! The natural state of mankind is to be unclean (see Rom 1:18-25 TNIV).
Thankfully, we do not have to employ caustic washing powders to cleanse our hearts; rather, God has promised us cleansing and a new heart (see Ezek 36:25-26 TNIV). We are given a new heart, a new start and a new outlook. God Himself gives us the pure heart we need to stand before Him (Heb 10:22 TNIV), but we have to maintain that through our own lifestyles and choices.
2 Cor 7:1 TNIV says ‘Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting ourselves out of reverence for God.’ God is working in us and with us to change us and to bring His work of grace in our lives to completion. Heb 12:1 TNIV reminds us that we have a part to play, however. In the Message version, it talks of ‘parasitic sins’ and it is true that sin can cling to us like leeches or mosquitoes, sucking on our very blood and weakening us over time, even though we may feel the ‘sins’ are inconsequential or insignificant in themselves. We have to be relentless with ourselves (2 Tim 2:22 TNIV) since God did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life (1 Thess 4:7 TNIV).
The process of becoming pure is likened to the refining of gold and silver (and God’s word is compared to these precious metals in Ps 12:6 TNIV). Precious metals were refined through a repeated process of heating and skimming the scum off the top of the molten metal. This is what times of testing and trial do to us (see Ps 66:10 TNIV). Every time we resist temptation and refuse to give in to the parasitic sins which so easily entangle us, we are made stronger and refined further. It’s easy to stop and think we can afford to ‘take it easy’ (Prov 6:10-11 TNIV), but the consequences if we do are deadly. We never ‘arrive’ on earth in the sense that this struggle with sin will always continue while we are in this mortal body, but as we persevere, we have the promise of seeing God as our reward.