Summary: If we are to know the happiness God has in mind for His children, we need to understand sanctification.
We have seen how the Beatitudes are progressive in nature, beginning with our gaining the proper perspective on salvation, which leads us to mourn over personal sin, which leads us to an attitude of humility with regards to self and a deep desire to be like Jesus. This is work of God in our life is manifested in service to others and a pure walk before God.
Jesus says here that if we would be happy, we must pursue purity, we must gain the proper perspective on sanctification - the process whereby we grow to become more like Him. Notice what we can learn from this Beatitude about sanctification:
1. The process of sanctification - v. 8a
Sanctification is a process whereby we pursue purity of heart. As we think about purity, it is helpful to note four types of purity mentioned in the Bible.
A. Original purity - When God created man, man was pure in every way. However, that purity was forsaken as man chose to go his own way rather than God’s way. Thus was man fallen from that which God had in mind for him. God wanted man to walk in obedience, fellowship, and purity before Him, knowing happiness for ever and ever. And though man had changed as a result of his fall into sin and impurity, God’s desire and God’s standard hadn’t changed.
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” - Matthew 5:48 (NIV)
So it was that God had to restore man to the status of purity before He could once again have fellowship with man and man with Him, so that God’s desire for man to be happy might be fulfilled.
Which brings us to the second type of purity mentioned in the Bible.
B. Positional purity - God came in the flesh in order to take care of the problem of man’s impurity. He did so in the person of Jesus Christ, who bore the penalty for man’s impurity on the cross. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, where He ever lives to intercede on behalf of all who trust Him as their personal Savior.
“He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.” - Hebrews 7:25 (Amplified)
When I confess Christ before men as my Savior, He confesses me before the Father as one that He now represents (Matthew 10:32).
When that happens, I am seen by the Father as being “positionally pure.” The heavenly Father, who Matthew 5:48 says will not me acceptable if I am not perfect even as He is perfect, now sees me through the One who now represents me and intercedes for me in heaven - Jesus - who is perfect, and acceptable, and pure. Through Christ, I am now in the position of being seen as pure in the eyes of the Father, and thus, I am acceptable to Him. I can now commune with Him, I can now walk with Him, I can now look forward to spending eternity in His holy presence; and as a guarantee of this, He has come to live within me through the person of the Holy Spirit.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” - Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)
C. Ultimate purity - The fact that God now sees me as pure in Christ means that I am not only accepted by God; but that I will one day be made pure for all eternity, for I will be like Jesus.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son . . .” - Romans 8:29 (NIV)
In eternity, we will dwell in that place which John describes by saying: “Nothing impure will ever enter it . . .” - Revelation 21:27a (NIV).
D. Practical purity - John speaks about how what we have just mentioned should motivate us to practice purity in our daily lives.
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” - 1 John 3:2-3 (NIV)
What am I to do between the time I am declared positionally pure through accepting Christ and am made ultimately pure when I enter into His presence? I am to seek to be practically pure.