Matthew 5:8 - A Fragrance of Holiness

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“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” -Matthew 5:8

It is purity of heart that allows us to see God.

It is God who makes it possible for our hearts to be pure.

What can this mean? It seems almost like an impossible catch 22, a cosmic prank. We know that it is the grace of God, not of ourselves, that imparts righteousness and yet here we are told that it is on account of our righteousness that we see God!

It seems like a cosmic prank

It is true that there is a holiness without which we will not see God, the imputed holiness bought by Christ on behalf of those who believe. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Christ became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. Us, whose righteousness is like filthy rags, have imparted to us God’s holiness, and this a free gift purchased by grace alone through faith alone, the very essence of the gospel. This is purity of heart is not of ourselves so that anyone could boast.

Imputed righteousness, however, is not the only form of righteousness taught by scripture. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, Paul describes an aroma or fragrance of holiness:

"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ."

God uses us, his followers, as a vehicle for his common grace, to distribute the knowledge of him, his love and his law, throughout our society. This is what it means to be salt and light in a broken world; to allow Godly influence to dissipate and permeate the culture so that the law of God written in each heart will have the opportunity to hear, to know, to respond to this aroma of holiness spread by the people of God. Even when we are outside of Christ our hearts and our minds respond with recognition and with longing to beauty, truth, kindness, love, and hope. These are the gifts that God, the Father of Lights, distributes to all creation.  In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis describes the recognition of this aroma beautifully:

“The secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.”

This recognition, this fragrant holiness, calls out to us from without and within, informing us of our incomplete condition, our need for the holiness that can only be imparted. It shows us our need and teaches us the awe of the Lord that leads to wisdom. This longing for the holiness we recognize, but cannot achieve in ourselves, is the sorrow that leads to repentance. When we respond to this sorrowful longing, not with rebellion, but with a sincere pursuit of truth, this is the purity of heart that brings us to the cross and reveals to us the heart of God.

posted by Daily,
September 04 18

Daily Nourish serves to encourage Christians to honor God with all their heart, mind, soul & strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. Thanks for stopping by!


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