We continue looking at the beatitudes in the teaching of Jesus. Here, it’s the pure in heart who should be congratulated. They are going to see God (Matthew 5:8).
Jesus is showing us what life is like when he is in charge—when he establishes God’s kingdom. So, what he teaches is a call for us to choose. Do we admire the bold and the beautiful, or the pure in heart? Jesus says it needs to be the latter.
Seeing God is not a rare experience for saints and mystics. Everyone needs to know that they will see God. We’ve been made in his image. He is our goal. Without this promise we are living at odds with our proper destiny.
So, purity of heart, the only way to get to see God, is a deep need. To ignore it is dangerous.
Someone with a pure heart is a very practical person—someone we’d like to have as a neighbour. David tells us that they do what is right, speak what is true, and never hurt a friend. They do what they say they will—even when it turns out to be a bigger job than they thought it would be (Psalm 15).
Purity is everything we do in life—with all its compartments being focused on one thing. David wants an ‘undivided heart’—focused on God and on receiving his favour (Psalm 86:11, 17).
So, how do we come by a pure heart?
First, we need to receive what Jesus does on our behalf.
God promised a Savior who would purify his people (Malachi 3:1-4). This is who Jesus is. He will purify his people totally (Matthew 3:10-12).
Jesus spends a lot of time teaching us how to live well but knows that purity must be alive before it can grow. Our affections are hopelessly compromised—basically dead. We don’t really want to see God.
So, Jesus must give himself to us, and for us—as a husband to a bride—to purify us (Ephesians 5:26). He purifies us to be a people who are eager to do good things (Titus 2:14). Our hearts must be cleansed by faith, not by gradual improvement (Acts 15:9).
When we believe Jesus died in our place—for our sins, we are purified (1 Peter 1:17-22). We are ready to stand in God’s presence! We can never be the same again!
Jesus knows what he is going to do, and he knows it will be effective. That’s why he can promise that we will see God.
Second, we need to make purity a way of life.
The person who writes Psalm 119 asks how a young person can keep himself pure. He or she must carefully read and be led by God’s word (v. 9).
This Psalm goes on to show how we need this word every day and for every situation. God is our Maker after all (v. 73), and he must know what is good.
But the writer is not suggesting we should read our Bibles like a text book. The Psalm is really a prayer. He knows God. This is why he wants to be pure. He knows God is altogether good and strong.
So, with this writer, we can ask God to give us understanding. We can talk with him about the difficulties we have getting things right. And we can ask for wisdom. In his presence, we can accept the knocks that come our way—to show us we are off track and that we need to take his word more seriously (v. 67-71, 75).
Purity is not just about us getting our life in order. It’s about sharing life with the Lord. He’s what makes purity worthwhile. So, we need to seek him eagerly (v. 10).
As we continue to read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus gives examples of practical purity—not just keeping rules to impress people.
And Paul tells us … that those who have been purified by Christ will be eager to do good things (Titus 2:14).
Sometimes, we do need to take ourselves in hand. As James says, we need to purify ourselves because we have divided loyalties (James 4:8).
Finally, when Jesus says we will see God, he’s talking about our future.
We will see Christ. And in seeing Christ, we will be seeing God. The event will be so powerful that we will be transformed to be like our Saviour in an instant (1 John 3:3). This is a powerful incentive to purify ourselves in readiness for that day.
In fact, we have already seen the glory of God in the face of Christ—through the word of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:6). And if we keep looking there, we are being transformed little by little while we wait for the final day (2 Corinthians 3:18).
If this is how you see your life, Congratulations!