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“God’s Person in an Upside-Down World” — The Be-attitudes Series #6 Happy Are the Holy (5:8)

26 Oct

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (5:8)

Americans are increasingly concerned about purity. We want to breathe pure air, we want to drink pure water, we want to eat pure food. I was amazed that last year in America, we spent over half-a-billion dollars on water purifiers alone. But there is one major area of life where we desperately need purity that most ofpurity-ring us Americans have overlooked.

Here is one of those passages of Scripture whose depths are immeasurable and whose breadth is impossible to encompass. This incredible statement of Jesus is among the greatest utterances in all of the Bible. The subject of holiness, of purity of heart, can be traced from Genesis to Revelation. The theme is infinitely vast and touches on virtually every other biblical truth. It is impossible to exhaust its meaning or significance, and the discussion in this chapter is nothing more than introductory.

Pure in heart—defiled in heart (vv. 25-28).

(Matthew 23:25-28) “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. {26} Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. {27} “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. {28} In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

 Jesus used two illustrations: the cup and platter, and the sepulcher. They both stated the same truth: it is possible to be clean on the outside and at the same time defiled on the inside. Imagine using dishes that were defiled! Whatever you put into the dish or cup would also become defiled. The Pharisees were careful to keep the outside very clean, because that was the part that men would see; and they wanted the praise of men. But God sees the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). When God looked within, He saw “greed and self-indulgence” (Matt. 23:25, niv).

 Jewish people were careful not to touch dead bodies or anything relating to the dead, because this would make them ceremonially unclean (Num. 19:11ff). They would whitewash the tombs lest someone accidentally get defiled, and this was done especially at Passover season. What a graphic picture of the hypocrite: white on the outside, but filled with defilement and death on the inside!

 Throughout Scripture, as well as in many languages and cultures throughout the world, the heart is used metaphorically to represent the inner person, the seat of motives and attitudes, the center of personality. But in Scripture it represents much more than emotion, feelings. It also includes the thinking process and particularly the will.

In Proverbs we are told, “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7, KJV). Jesus asked a group of scribes, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” (Matt. 9:4; cf. Mark 2:8; 7:21). The heart is the control center of mind and will as well as emotion.

Pure is a form of the word from which we get catharsis. The basic meaning is to make pure by cleansing from dirt, filth, and contamination. Catharsis is a term used in psychology and counseling for a cleansing of the mind or emotions. The Greek word is related to the Latin from which we get chaste. The related word chasten refers to discipline given in order to cleanse from wrong behavior.

 This beatitude demands from us the most exacting self-examination. Is our work done from motives of service or from motives of pay? Is our service given from selfless motives or from motives of self-display? Is the work we do in Church done for Christ or for our own prestige? Is our Church-going an attempt to meet God or a fulfilling of an habitual and conventional respectability? Are even our prayer and our Bible reading engaged upon with the sincere desire to company with God or because it gives us a pleasant feeling of superiority to do these things?

Is our religion a thing in which we are conscious of nothing so much as the need of God within our hearts, or a thing in which we have comfortable thoughts of our own piety? To examine one’s own motives is a daunting and a shaming thing, for there are few things in this world that even the best of us do with completely unmixed motives.

 Jesus went on to say that only the pure in heart will see God. It is one of the simple facts of life that we see only what we are able to see; and that is true not only in the physical sense; it is also true in every other possible sense.

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Sermon

 

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