Summary: God has called us to be transformed from the inside out.
The Pilgrim’s Path Part-6, Mathew 5:1-12
The Pure in Heart
In the forests of Northern Europe lives the ermine, a small animal known best for its snow-white fur. Legend has it that instinctively; this animal protects its glossy coat of fur with great care lest it become soiled. Hunters often capitalize on this trait. Instead of setting a mechanical trap to catch the ermine, they find its home in a cleft of a rock or a hollow tree and daub the entrance and the interior with tar. Then their dogs start the chase, and the frightened ermine flees toward its home. But finding it covered with dirt, he spurns his place of safety. Rather than soil his white fur, he courageously faces the yelping dogs that hold him at bay until the hunters capture him. To the ermine, purity is dearer than life! The Lord wants us to be a people who will keep ourselves “unspotted from the world.” O for a heart that would sooner face death than to compromise purity!
This morning we will take the next step in the Pilgrim’s Path as we examine the words of Christ as He says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
We will consider what it means to be pure in heart; to be of a single mindedness toward the will of God in our lives.
The theologian Søren Kierkegaard asserts that purity of the heart is to will one thing – the good as he refers to it – that is, the will of God in every area of our lives. We will also consider what it means to “see God.” At the heart of the Pilgrim’s Path, the way of the Master as He spells it out in the beatitudes, is a heart that is pure; that is a heart that strives to be singly focused upon that thing which we have been called to do; to bring glory to God in every area of our lives.
The Bible tells us to do all things as unto the Lord. In business we are to bring glory to God. In our relationships we are to bring glory to God. In all that we do we are to bring glory to God. That means that in whatever situation we find ourselves our chief purpose – the attitude of the pure heart – ought to be to glorify God in the midst of circumstances and situations in order to do the will of God.
It has been said that doing the will of God leaves no time for disputing about his plans. We are not necessarily called by God to understand His purposes in all of our lives; we are called only to trust Him with a pure heart; devoted to doing His will in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in this life.
Later, also in the Gospel of Mathew, the words of Jesus are recorded where He delivers a series of Woes to the Pharisees. You’ll recall that the Pharisees were a group of religious leaders who, though their intentions were very good as keepers and protectors of the Old Covenant Law, had become legalistic, ritualistic, followers not of the intent of the law but of the letter of the law.
Where the law was written to encourage a heart’s devotion to God the Pharisees had taken strict adherence to the law to such an extreme that they had began to, in a very real sense, worship the law rather than the law giver. Their primary emphasis and concern was with the keeping of the law not the heart’s devotion to the God who inspired the Law.
In Mathew 23 Jesus expands the teaching of Mathew 5 as He addressed the Pharisees. In Mathew 5 Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Here, Jesus uses very similar language to expound on the same idea as He draws a contradiction between the purity of the heart that is to be sought by genuine followers of Christ and the outward purity of the Pharisees.
He also deals with what it means to “see God” as He refers to the Pharisees as blind guides, hypocrites, and blind fools. In ancient Hebrew culture to see something would have been metaphorical language expressing the idea of apprehending or grasping something. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall apprehend -grasp-know-understand-arrest true knowledge of God!
Mathew 23 Preaching Points:
1. (v2) They do not practice what they preach.
2. (v5) They are only concerned with the outward appearance.
3. (v6) They exalt themselves.
a. Luke 24:8-11
4. (v7) They love to noticed; proud; arrogant.
5. (v11-12) They exalt themselves.
a. There is a consistent theme running throughout the New Testament whereby Jesus tells us that those who exalt themselves in this life will be humbled and those who humble themselves in this life will be exalted in due time; even eternally!