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Our Good Crisis #9: The Pure in Heart

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

Matthew 5:8 NLT

What does it mean to be pure in heart? And in what ways might we see God? Interestingly, the Bible has much to say.

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

Jeremiah 17:9 NLT

Before we can delve deeply into the concept of purity, we must know that our hearts are deceitful without heart surgery. We must allow God to remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. He fills us with His Spirit and causes us, enables us to do His will. Without this first step, we cannot be pure in heart.

And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

Romans 2:29 NLT

Circumcision of the heart is about submitting to the Lordship of Christ, committing our lives to Him. It’s about having a singleness of heart towards God. The movie City Slickers came to mind. Curly asks Mitch if he knows what the secret of life is, and he holds up one finger. Mitch is lost, and Curly doesn’t explain except to say, “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that … ” Singleness of heart, attuned to God, in reverence and submission – that is the “one thing,” the secret of life.

Purity also implies being refined by fire. I love the proverb, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” He tests the authenticity of our faith, which results in even more praise, glory, and honor when Jesus comes again. Our God is a consuming fire; his holiness burns up all that is unholy.

  • I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ (Zechariah 13:9)
  • See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. (Isaiah 48:10-11)
  • But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. (Malachi 3:2-4)

I’m learning now to trust His touch to crave the fire’s embrace
For though my past with sin was etched his mercies did erase
Each time His purging cleanses deeper I’m not sure that I’ll survive
Yet the strength in growing weaker keeps my hungry soul alive

The Refiner’s fire has now become my souls desire
Purged and cleansed and purified that the Lord be glorified
He is consuming my soul, refining me, making me whole
No matter what I may lose I choose the Refiner’s fire

Lyrics, The Refiner’s Fire sung by Steve Green, written by J. Mohr and R. Dennis

External behavior doesn’t always picture heart purity. Jesus called the Pharisees “whitewashed sepulchers” because they had outward cleanliness but lacked inner purity. They had unholy motives; they did not do what they preached. Matthew tells us, “Everything they do is done for people to see,” they like seats of honor and respected titles. Scripture teaches us to humble ourselves, love in deed and truth, not just in word or talk. Our command is to resist Satan, draw close to God, and purify our hearts in repentance.

So let God work his will in you.
Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce.
Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.
Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life.
Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out.
The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious.
Get down on your knees before the Master;
it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

James 4:7-10 MSG

The pure in heart will see God. God is omnipresent – everywhere! Where can we go to escape Him? If we ascend to heaven, He is there. If we descend to the center of the earth, He’s there. If we fly away to the other side of the sea, He is there! The glory of the Lord fills the whole earth. We see Him because the heavens declare His glory!

The pure in heart see God because His Spirit dwells in us.
Christ in us is our hope of glory!

The pure in heart will see God. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. When we set our hearts on knowing God, we will experience and, in a sense, see God. To see God is to be wonderstruck by His glory and distressed by our sin. Isaiah saw God high and exalted, the train of his robe filling the temple. He cried out, “Woe is me!” Job said, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” At the same time, to see God is to be in His presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasure always.

Today I pray —
Hide not your face from me and be gracious to me. Please show me how to avoid all defilement and to be quick to confess my sin. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and continually renew a steadfast spirit within me. Teach me to trust in you with all of my heart. And May I have a singleness of heart that no idol can breach.

The pure heart is God’s paradise where He delights to walk. It is His lesser heaven. The dove delights in the purest air. The Holy Spirit, Who descended in the likeness of a dove, delights in the purest soul.
God says of the pure in heart, as of Zion,
“This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell” (Psa 132:14).

Thomas Watson, The Pure in Heart

This post is inspired by reading Dodson, J. K. (2020). Our good crisis: Overcoming moral chaos with the Beatitudes. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, an imprint of InterVarsity Press.
Check out my previous posts based on this study of the Beatitudes:

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