Summary: How can we attain purity in a world that is anything but pure? By being purified by Christ, having a pure devotion to Christ, and living a pure life that flows from these.
Blessed are the Pure in Heart
Matt 5.8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God"
Purity is not very fashionable nowadays.
• Camera advert - deception is a common theme in advertising
• Free sex is an assumed part of society
• God is unwanted in public life
But Jesus says it is the pure in heart who will see God.
In fact, Psalm 24.3-7 says:
Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Saviour. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
So the question is: how can I have clean hands and a pure heart?
A DESIRE TO SEE GOD
But there’s a more fundamental question we need to answer.
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? The person who’s serious about God!
Jesus said the pure in heart will see God. But do we want this blessing? Do we really want to see God? What does that mean, anyway?
At its heart the idea of ’seeing God’ is fellowship with Him. This is salvation, and what’s salvation about? It’s moving from a state of being God’s enemy to being his friend - it’s about relationship with God. Jesus said, "This is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent" (John 17.3).
Friends, do you want to know God? Do you long to see him? Do you want to know the love and joy and peace and power that comes from the fellowship of the Spirit?
If you don’t then these verses won’t hold a lot of appeal to you.
But if you do, if you really do, then everything else follows.
PURIFIED BY CHRIST
First of all, Salvation follows. Am I saying that we have to be pure to be saved? Of course not! But I am saying that we are saved when Jesus makes us pure.
Many religions place a great emphasis on ritual purity. The idea behind this is that we are unclean - tainted by sin or imperfection that separates us from God. Everyone who is spiritually sensitive feels this uncleanness.
So one of the ways that many religions seek to become ritually clean so they can come to pray and worship God is through ceremonial washing. Catholics, Jews, Hindus and Muslims all perform these ceremonies each time they come to worship.
But as evangelical believers we have only one ’ritual purification’ - baptism. One baptism once for all time, because it’s not about the water, it’s about the blood!
Heb 10.22 says, "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."
It’s Christ’s blood that purifies us from sin.
1John 1.7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
And here’s a point many Christian miss. Many people become Christians, I think, so they can stay out of hell. But actually, the point of being a Christian is relationship with God, and the way to relationship is cleansing from sin through the blood of Christ. Sin separates us from God, and that’s why it needs to be dealt with.
If you don’t want that fellowship with God and as a result you’re not serious about staying away from sin, seriously, why would you bother about this Christianity gig?
But it’s not just about staying away from sin. That just turns Christianity into a passive religion of rules and regulations. But if it’s about relationship with God then it’s a lot more active. It’s pressing into love and truth and justice and goodness. It’s about becoming like Jesus.
Having a pure heart begins with being washed with the blood of Jesus, and moves to having a pure devotion to him.
The Psalmist asked, "How can a young man keep his ways pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Ps 119.9b-11).
Do you seek God with all your heart? Do you hide God’s word in your heart that you might not sin?