This is the Sunday morning sermon for May 10th, 2009.

Purity in heart.
Matthew 5:8

Matthew 5:8 TNIV – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

This morning we are continuing in our series in the Beattitudes. So far we have seen that we are blessed when we recognize that apart from Christ we are destitute in spirit; we are blessed when we mourn over our sins and the sins of others; we are blessed when we humble ourselves before God; we are blessed when we hunger and thirst, not for self-righteousness, but the true righteousness that only comes from God, apart from works of the Law.

Last week we looked that those who are merciful to those who wrong them; they are blessed with mercy by God.

This morning we are looking at “Purity in heart.” What does it mean to be pure in heart? Have you ever thought about that question? Is it humanly possible to be pure in heart before God?

I mean think about this for just one moment. The Bible gives us warnings concerning people claiming to be Christians practicing sin:

1 John 3:6 TNIV – No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

But at the same time, if a Christian thinks that they do not sin, they are deceiving themselves.

1 John 1:8-10 TNIV – 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

The phrase in the passage, “to be without,” means in Greek, “To no longer possess, to not have the ability, to no longer be able,” to sin.

We are not talking about the missing the mark type of sins in these texts in 1 John. Christians will do this; we are talking about the living in sin. True believers forsake the lifestyle of sin that God delivered them from through Christ.

1 John 3:4 TNIV – Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

In Greek the word, “sins” here means, “keep on living in sin.”

So does purity mean absolute moral perfectionism to God?

Well, whether I answer this question this morning or not, we want to look into our text and see what the Holy Spirit would say to us through it.

What does purity mean?

Matthew 5:8a TNIV – Blessed are the pure…

The Greek word for pure means:

• Clean, and could, for instance, be used for soiled clothes which have been washed clean.
• To be sifted and unmixed.

So purity in God’s eyes does not mean moral perfection; it means to be cleansed from filth, to have the impurities sifted away, or to be unmixed by contaminates.

The purity that God demands is not some physical purity, but purity of heart.

Matthew 5:8b TNIV – Blessed are the pure in heart…

In the time of Christ, Judaism and the Jewish leaders placed great emphasis on outward purity. The cups and dishes had to be outwardly clean; the person must be outwardly clean as well. No outward filth, moral imperfection, no outward type of sicknesses like leprosy, blindness, muteness, or things of that nature could be accepted in religious worship in Christ’s day.

If you look into the Gospels though, you see that those who were morally pure on the outside rejected Christ’s teaching, ministry, and miracles; while those who were not considered pure: prostitutes, tax collectors, fishermen, lepers, blind, mute, and sinners in general were the ones who received him.

Here is the problem: the Law, which dealt with the outside, also dealt with purity of the heart, and the fact is none could truly be pure of heart, and God knew this.

Many people like to quote the great promises of Deuteronomy 28. But they often fail to look at the curses of the same chapter. God demanded perfect obedience. And if Israel was perfectly obedient, they’d be blessed. The problem was the children of Israel could not obey perfectly, and thereby lived under a curse. And God knew this was going to happen as well. Ancient Israel couldn’t live according to the Law.

Jesus in chapter 5 also demands perfect love from his followers in relations to their enemies and those that persecute believers in the context of vv. 43-48.

Matthew 5:48 TNIV – Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The fact is, Jesus demands perfect love especially concerning our enemies. Then in 1 John, the Holy Spirit also demands perfect loves toward our brothers and sisters in the faith. How is this possible? Well, it is not possible by fleshy, carnal ability, but only by the Spirit.

Consider this truth:

The heart can only be cleansed and made pure by God Himself.

Truth is, before Christ saved us our hearts were soiled and unclean. Therefore we deserve the curse and the wrath of God.

• But notice what we have in Christ.

Galatians 3:10-13 TNIV – 10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “Whoever does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a (tree).”

Apart from Christ’s Spirit indwelling us, we are not pure, we are lawbreakers. Christ came and redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse in our place. By Him doing this on the cross, this glorious reality resulted:

• True purity comes when we are born again!!!

When we are born again, God creates a new heart inside of us. This heart is not the heart of stone that displeased God, but this heart is a heart of flesh that God can mold and shape that pleases Him by living by faith in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 51:10 TNIV – Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 TNIV – 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

God gives us a new heart so that we can through His Spirit love perfectly, and obey what Jesus Christ has said to us. This is not done out of legalistic obedience to works, but newness of heart that God Himself provides!

How does God cleanse our hearts?

This answer is going to seem simplistic. It isn’t by rule keeping, or joining a church, or becoming religious and spending long hours in prayer and study until you feel clean and pure. It only comes through faith in Christ.

Acts 15:9b TNIV – He purified their hearts by faith.

Those whose hearts have been made pure through faith in Christ have a promise – they will see God!

Matthew 5:8 TNIV – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

What does it mean to see God?
We see God through fellowship with Him in the Word and the Spirit. Church is not just some religious spiritual exercise where we get the opportunity to air out our beliefs and grievances, it is an opportunity to worship the Lord, fellowship with Him through His Spirit, and have Him speak to us through His Word being preached.
We see God through the difficulties, circumstances, and faith of others. Seeing how other believers go through difficult times, yet persevere in faith is such a joy, and if we don’t fellowship with one another, we could be missing out on this way of seeing God. This is why we are trying to encourage you to get into a small group. You can share your burdens, griefs, sorrows, and pains, plus the faith that has endured and rejoice in what God is doing amongst you.
Ultimately, this promise is a future promise – We will one day see Him as He really is!

1 John 3:2-3 TNIV – 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

As we conclude this morning, realize that purity is not legalistic, but it is only found in the heart that God has surrendered to Himself and made pure. This purity is a new heart He has created inside of you, a heart that has put it’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice as He became a curse in our place.