Matthew 5:8 - Cultivating a Pure Heart

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

Ever heard that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”? It almost sounds right. After all the psalmist says:

Who shall ascend the hill of the LordAnd who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, (Psalm 24:3-4a)

But what does “clean hands” mean here? He goes on to say:

who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. (v. 4b)

These are metaphorically clean hands, hands free of guilt. So is it environmental cleanliness - avoidance of “the world” – that God weighs, or is it, as the verse says, purity of the heart? In Colossians chapter 2 Paul tells us that we have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of this world and are no longer subject to regulations such as “do neat eat, do not taste, do not touch” which have only the appearance of wisdom but actually promote a self-made religion of severity to the body. Asceticism or avoidance may be a way that seems right to men, but the Lord weighs the heart.

We are not longer subject to regulations which promote self-made religion

So if purity is not a matter of external trappings, how is it measured? Titus 1:15-16 says:

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Impurity comes from within, from defiled mind or conscience, from the heart which is deceitful above all things, and is exhibited by morally detestable behaviors.  In Matthew chapter 15 Jesus tells us that it is not what goes into our mouths that defiles us but that what comes out of the mouth, from the heart, where temptation conceives and gives birth to sin.

So then if abstinence is not a means to, or indication of, purity, what is? If it is not what we put in that defiles us, but what is already in us that is defiled, how do we purify our already corrupted minds and hearts? We find the answer again in Psalm 24. The psalmist continues in verses 5 and 6:

He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

As we discussed in a previous article it is by seeking the face of God that we receive righteousness from him and it is by his grace that we seek his face.  

In fact, not only is avoidance not purity, avoidance can actually retard maturity and the development of pure hearts by insulating us from opportunities to rule over our flesh, take every thought captive, and grow in maturity, as we overcome sin while being in the world without loving the things of the world.
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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