The Housecleaning Choice
Passage: Matthew 5:8–5:8
Life’s Healing Choices: The Beatitudes, Part 4
October 3 & 4, 2009
DEFINITION OF “PURE IN HEART”
This morning we are continuing housecleaning in our minds and hearts as we look at Jesus’ life-changing and heart-altering commands for us in Matthew 5. We are focusing on Matthew 5:8 today which says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (NIV). The KJV puts it just as simply, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (KJV). The Good News Bible puts it, “Happy are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (GNB). The Message puts it this way, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world” (MSG).
Back in the old days, you know 1995, when you wanted to know a definition of something or the history of a word, you could look it up in the dictionary. If you wanted to know about a historic battle or the culture of a people group, you could look it up in a history textbook. Back in the old days, when you wanted the phone number for a restaurant or business or a person in town, you looked it up in what was called a phone book. We don’t do any of that now! If you want to know the definition of something, the history of a word, facts about a historic battle, or even a phone number, all you have to do is GOOGLE it. Just hop on the internet and type in a few words or a phrase and instantly is more information than you need.
I thought I might look up in a dictionary what “pure in heart” means, but that seemed antiquated. That is what we are dealing with today from Matthew 5:8, “being pure in heart.” I decided to GOOGLE “pure in heart” and just explore what I found. I have to say every website that I found on GOOGLE in regards to “pure in heart” had to do with Jesus, articles about God, blogs from churches, and Christian websites in some form or fashion. The images I found on GOOGLE directed me to Christian ministries and biographies of Christian people… they even had Mother Theresa in there! The GOOGLE Maps part did not help, but I did find a definition of “pure in heart” which I think will help guide us and give us a jumping off point as we dig into Matthew 5:8 this morning. Dietrich Bonheoffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship gives us a great definition of “pure in heart.” He asks, “Who is pure of heart? Only those who have surrendered their hearts completely to Jesus that He may reign in them alone. Only those whose hearts are undefiled by their own evil—and by their own virtues too.” [Dietrich Bonheoffer, The Cost of Discipleship].
As I reflected on what Dietrich Bonheoffer said and more importantly on Jesus’ heartfelt Godly words to these folks sitting before Him in Matthew 5, I realized that Jesus doesn’t want me to be religious. He wants me to be real. This “pure in heart” attitude that Jesus speaks to is…
… NOT about being double-minded and having devotion to two masters in my life.
… NOT about being religious or putting on a false face or being an on-purpose hypocrite.
… NOT something that can happen to me on accident.
… NOT a super power given to me by being exposed to too much gamma radiation.
… NOT something forced upon me by God.
Being pure in heart is something you and I must really chase after because being pure of heart means we seek after God on the inside and the outside of our lives. When we attempt to live impurely spiritually, emotionally, and spiritually we are anything but blessed or happy and we are anything but real. When we are double-minded and impure, our conflicting loyalties make us wretched, confused, and tense.
BIBLICAL STORY 1: Genesis 39:4-12 [STORY TELLING… do not read]
“Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!" 8 But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.”
What does this passage describe?
What kind of person was Joseph in the midst of this very tempting situation?
Joseph was a man of pure heart who on purpose ran from impurity.
WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO SAY
I am supposed to tell you this morning: The basis for a pure heart is not how good you’ve been. The basis for a pure heart is how good God is. I can’t tell you that this is a true statement. I actually think that it is a FALSE statement (absolute crap) that will lead us to a path of being double-minded and develop a permissive passive attitude about sin in each of us that will rip us away from our walks with Jesus Christ.
I am supposed to come before you today and have us all hold hands and sing a song and give you an encouraging message that says our purity is based solely on God and not on anything we have done… that how good or bad we have been doesn’t matter to God. I can’t do that! The Bible is clear that God does impart love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and tons of spiritual blessings into our lives. He showers our hearts with these good things. He lavishes us with forgiveness and right standing before Himself. That is all true! We also can choose sexual impurity, selfishness, sin, idols, un-forgiveness, and embrace tons of impure thoughts and desires which draw us away from God and away from our single-minded surrender towards Jesus Christ.
What I will say is that there are other passages from God’s Holy Word that instruct us on how to clean house inside our minds and hearts so that we can see God in our lives and in the world around us. Those passages teach us that is DOES MATTER how we live and our choices DO MATTER. How we live DOES impact our vision of God in this life and our destination after this life.
We are focusing on Matthew 5:8 today which says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (NIV). When Jesus says “pure in heart” He means “single minded devotion.” God desires us to be single-minded in our devotion to Him and completely surrendered to Jesus Christ in our lives so that He can reign in our hearts. Purity of heart is not something that just happens to you… it is something you choose to go after! This single-minded devotion starts within us! You see, purity of heart is single-minded surrendered devotion to Jesus Christ… and this is a choice of lifestyle that each of us must make.
Matthew 5:8 closely parallels Psalm 24:3-4 which tells us, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 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.” Both of these passages share with us the importance of “purity of heart” in our lives and it begins with the choice of wanting to be pure… wanting clean hands… wanting a pure heart… we have got to want it!
BIBLICAL STORY 2: Judges 6:22-32 [STORY TELLING… do not read]
When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!" 23 But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die." 24 So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 25 That same night the LORD said to him, "Take the second bull from your father's herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering." 27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. 28 In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal's altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! 29 They asked each other, "Who did this?" When they carefully investigated, they were told, "Gideon son of Joash did it." 30 The men of the town demanded of Joash, "Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it." 31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, "Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar." 32 So that day they called Gideon "Jerub-Baal," saying, "Let Baal contend with him," because he broke down Baal's altar.
What does this passage describe?
What kind of person was Gideon in the midst of the ungodly influences in his life?
Gideon was a man of pure heart who on purpose rid/tore down impure influences from his life.
YOU WILL FAIL… SO REMEMBER GOD
As we are chasing after purity of heart, there are some key things we need to remember about ourselves and the God that we so desperately want to see. We need to remember these things because there will be times when we fail at our purity of heart.
There will be times we get caught in pornography on the internet.
There will be times we put our job or our spouse before God.
There will be times we decide to cheat on a test instead of study.
There will be times we decide to steal instead of pay for it.
There will be times our eyes will wander from faithfulness.
There will be times when we mix our devotion to Him with someone else or something else. In fact, the more we pursue single-minded devotion to Jesus Christ, the more temptation, impurity, life circumstances, and hundreds of other obstacles will be tossed in our way.
First of all we must remember God’s kindness. Remember that Romans 8:1 promises us that when we are in Christ, there is always a pathway back to God. We do not get stuck in condemnation, but through God’s kindness we can find our way back to Him. And Romans 5:8 says “God has shown us how much he loves us-- it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!” Remember God’s kindness when we fall flat on our face.
The second thing to remember is to remember God’s faithfulness. The Bible says in Philippians 1:6, “I am convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, [not any addictions, not any hang-ups, not any problems, not any sins, nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And this promise of His faithfulness in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” Remember God’s faithfulness even when we are faithless.
Thirdly, remember God’s promises. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. God also says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.
“For it is Christ who is the ‘Yes’ to all of God’s promises.” 2 Corinthians 1:20. Remember God’s promises.
BIBLICAL STORY 3: Luke 19:1-9 [STORY TELLING… do not read]
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." 9 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.”
What does this passage describe?
What kind of person was Zacchaeus once he found Jesus Christ?
Zacchaeus was a man of pure heart who made his wrongs right and devoted himself to Jesus.
OTHER BIBLE PASSAGES
I mentioned to you earlier that the Bible is full of passages about being pure in heart. Matthew 5:8 is not the only time God speaks to us, His people, about purity of heart and mind and action. Psalm 24, 51, 73; Proverbs 20, 22; Hosea 8; 2 Corinthians 6; 1 Timothy 5; 2 Timothy 2; 1 Peter 3… all of these passages and more describe how our God loves the pure in heart.
One specific passage from the Old Testament caught my eye as I was reading the Scriptures on purity. King David writes in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I love two things about this passage. First, David comes to God earnestly seeking a pure heart and earnestly wanting to be faithful to God. He wanted, like Joseph, to run from impurity and wanted like Gideon to tear down the things in his life that did not honor God. Secondly, King David remembers God’s kindness, faithfulness, and promises because he had utterly failed and needed forgiveness to regain his purity and right standing before God.
Another specific passage from the New Testament caught my eye as I was reading the Scriptures on purity. James writes in James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” I love two things about this passage as well. First, James tells us to earnestly come to God and God will be near to us… when we seek to be single-minded and devoted to God He is right there with us. Secondly, James tell us that if we wash our hands and ask God for forgiveness, that He will purify us. If we act like Zacchaeus, and we devote ourselves and wash ourselves in God’s forgiveness, our hearts will be purified by God.
Dietrich Bonheoffer asks, “Who is pure of heart? Only those who have surrendered their hearts completely to Jesus that He may reign in them alone. Only those whose hearts are undefiled by their own evil—and by their own virtues too.” He echoes what Jesus already says in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (NIV). “Pure of heart” means single-minded surrendered devotion to Jesus Christ.
Are we going to always be pure? No! And in those times we must remember God’s kindness, faithfulness, and promises.
How do we put forth effort to be pure in heart?
Like Joseph, we must be people who on purpose run from impurity.
Like Gideon, we must on purpose tear down impure influences from our lives.
Like Zacchaeus, we need to make wrongs right and devote ourselves to Jesus.
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