Summary: The message deals with the 1. Historical Context, 2. Heart Condition, 3. Holy Creation, and 4. Hope-Filled Concept

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

1. Historical Context

The Pharisees thought the law was the answer to everything to the point that there were 600 laws added to clarify the Mosaic laws. The law was to be obeyed at all costs. But at some point the Pharisees and teachers of the law realized no one could keep the law perfectly.

The Pharisees tended to focus on the outer appearance of obedience. They would make a spectacle of themselves praying, fasting and giving. They prayed in public for all to see. During the hours of prayer they would "find themselves" in the marketplace so all could hear their pious prayers.

Their giving was done in such a way that it made noise as it rattled and clanked on its way down the receptacle. It would be the equivalent of one of our members taking their money, exchanging it for pennies, and dropping it into a metal bucket slowly. It would sound like a great sacrifice of giving.

During fasting times they would paint their faces to reflect a hollowed out look indicating a long period of fast. Jesus addresses these in the next chapter of Matthew. They outwardly appeared clean and pure but were inwardly filthy and rotten.

Some scholars agree that as they even began deciding which laws could be followed and eliminated the rest as a sign of holiness and purity. Of course they chose the laws where they could outwardly appear obedient to the law. Perhaps it is the reason the man asked Jesus in Matthew 22:36,

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matt. 22:36).

Evangelist Fred Brown used three images to describe the purpose of the law. First, he likened it to a dentist’s little mirror, which he sticks into the patient’s mouth. With the mirror he can detect any cavities. But he doesn’t drill with it or use it to pull teeth. It can show him the decayed area or other abnormality, but it can’t provide the solution. Brown then drew another analogy. He said that the law is also like a flashlight. If suddenly at night the lights go out, you use it to guide you down the darkened basement stairs to the electrical box. When you point it toward the fuses, it helps you see the one that is burned out. But after you’ve removed the bad fuse, you don’t try to insert the flashlight in its place. You put in a new fuse to restore the electricity. In his third image, Brown likened the law to a plumbline. When a builder wants to check his work, he uses a weighted string to see if it’s true to the vertical. But if he finds that he has made a mistake, he doesn’t use the plumbline to correct it. He gets out his hammer and saw. The law points out the problem of sin; it doesn’t provide a solution.

Jesus did not say, "Blessed are you who look holy or pure". Jesus went to the inner person, the un-see-able you and me, and said the pure in heart.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

2. Heart (kardia) Condition

The Greek word "kardia" is defined heart. We get our words cardiology, the study of the heart, and cardio, meaning an exercise for the heart from this word.

We generally look at the heart as a complex organ of the body without which we would die. It is also commonly known as the seat of the emotions. We say someone has their heart broken when an emotional trauma occurs. I believe everyone in this room knows what I am referring to in life. When someone has heart surgery, a physical trauma to the heart, they often experience an emotional change for a period of time. They may become more emotional for no apparent reason other than the surgery.

The Bible definition of heart encompasses a great deal more than our word today. The view of the heart in relation to the human body was similar but more, much more. The word heart in New Testament times was the seat of the will and conscience. It was the center of life itself. The heart was understood as the center for moral, spiritual, and intellectual part of a person.

If Jesus knew this to be true, and he did, then He is saying something far different from what we would assume. If the heart is the center of our moral character then our character must be pure. If it is the center of our intellect then our thoughts must be pure. If it is the center of our spiritual life then there must no be any sin. Our life from start to finish must be pure.

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