Holy Through and Through

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Blessed are the pure in heart For they shall see their God
The secret of the Lord is theirs, Their soul is Christ’s abode
Still to the lowly soul He doth Himself impart
And for His dwelling and His throne chooseth the pure in heart.
Blessed are the pure in heart, said Jesus in the Sixth Beatitude, For they shall see God.
Since purity of heart offers such great blessings that those who are pure in heart actually see God, surely becoming pure in heart will be the top priority for us as Christians. It will really matter to us whether our heart is pure or not. But what does it mean to be pure in heart? What must we do to have a pure heart?
Let’s begin with a bit of biology. Physiologically we know nowadays that the heart pumps the blood through the body. When we talk symbolically about matters of the heart or affairs of the heart we are referring to our feelings and our emotions. We talk about the heart when we are thinking of love and compassion or sometimes of courage. Nowadays we know that the part of the body which does the thinking is our brain and our whole personality and character is determined by our mind.
But the ancient world believed that it was the heart which was the centre of our personality and our thought and our will and our character. So whereas today the heart is about feeling, in Jesus’s time the heart was all about thinking and choosing and deciding. So we start with this important question.
In Jesus’s day a pure heart wasn’t anything to do with emotions or feelings. A pure heart was all about pure thinking. About character and personality. Purity of heart meant purity in character. Becoming holy through and through.
Developing a pure heart is about developing a Christ-like mind. A mind and character unspoiled by sin. So many people today have the attitude that it doesn’t matter what they do as long as they don’t hurt anybody. But Jesus taught very clearly that even the things we think can be as serious as the things we do. Later in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught this about anger.
Matthew 5 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
So angry thoughts can be as bad as actually murdering anybody. Then Jesus also taught about lust. Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Lustful thoughts are as serious as acts of adultery, Jesus said. And of all the Ten Commandments the one which is most frequently broken is the Tenth. It concerns attitudes rather than actions: you shall not covet. God knows our thoughts as clearly as He sees our actions. So our thoughts affect our relationship with God just as much as our actions. Being pure in heart is about a mind unspoiled by sinful thoughts and equally a mind unspoiled by sinful attitudes. Unspoiled by pride or selfishness or greed.
The word pure has a technical meaning for scientists. A pure substance is one which is not mixed with any other substances. So a gold ring is actually not pure gold – it is always mixed with other metals. So a pure heart is a heart with undivided loyalty towards God.
Psalm 24 3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

Undivided loyalty to God. Integrity. Sincerity. Singlemindedness. For some people the opposite of a pure Christian is not so much a sinful Christian as a partial Christian.
There can be so many impurities in our thinking, seeping in from the world around. Materialism. The post-modern lie that there is no absolute truth and one person’s opinion is as true as anybody else’s.
Matthew 6 33 But seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Our goal as Christians should be when our inmost thoughts and attitudes and ways of thinking are completely pleasing to God.
The starting point is receiving forgiveness for all our sins. Not just the things we have done and said but even the thoughts and attitudes which have hurt God and our neighbour and ourselves. When a person becomes a Christian all their sins are forgiven. But that isn’t the end. It is only the beginning of the lifelong process called sanctification, being made pure in every way. And there are two ways we can play our part in this process.
There’s an old saying I learned as a teenager in Crusaders.
“You aren’t what you think you are – but what you think, you are”. In other words the person we become is shaped by the sum of our thoughts. Then there was another saying.
Sow a thought you reap an action. Sow an action you reap a habit.
Sow a habit you reap a character. Sow a character you reap a destiny.
If we want to become holy through and through, if we want to develop the mind of Christ in our own lives, we need to keep sin out of our thinking. So we need to watch carefully what we read, what we listen to and the company we keep. In today’s world we need to think hard about what we watch on television and read on the internet. We can’t pray “lead us not into temptation” if we deliberately put ourselves into situations where we know we are likely to be tempted. We will be thinking more about this important issue in our discussion about television in this evening’s study of Everyday Christian Living which is called “Box”ing clever.
Sadly from time to time we all fail at keeping sin out. That’s why we need to keep on confessing our sins and receiving God’s forgiveness.
Keeping sin out. Then there is a second approach to developing a pure heart which we could call
The professor showed his class a flask and set them the simple problem, “How would you get all the air out of this flask?” The students suggested all sorts of elaborate techniques with fans and vacuum pumps. In the end the professor simply poured a jug of water in up to the brim of the flask. The air was completely displaced by the water.
So in our Christian lives, we grow in purity by squeezing sin out.
Philippians 4 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
We can crowd sin out by filling our minds with good and wholesome things. By reading the Bible. By reading Christian books and magazines and wholesome websites and blogs. By joining in Bible study and discussion and sharing in fellowship. By worship and praise and prayer.
Romans 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
“Don’t let the world around squeeze you into its own mould, but let God remould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Romans 12:2 in J.B.Phillips)
If we are serious about holiness we will do our best to keep sin our and to crowd sin out of our lives.

The truth if we are prepared to admit it is that we know very well all the things we should do to and all the things we should not do if we want to become more like Christ. We know what to do and indeed how to do it. Our problem is motivation. We just don’t care enough about becoming pure in heart. For much of the time we just can’t be bothered to try.
The world around tells us it is not blessed but it is boring to be pure in heart. Jesus says the opposite. Blessed are the pure in heart – for they will see God.
What a glorious promise! There is our motivation. There is the reward for those who are holy through and through. Those with a pure heart will see God! This is our Christian hope
1 John 3 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
God loves us so much that He has made us His children. And one wonderful aspect of this new relationship with God is that one day in glory we will see Him face to face!
So here is a challenge for us all. When Jesus returns we will see Him face to face. So it is good to set our hearts not to do anything which we would not want to be found doing when Jesus returns. It is good to set our hearts not to say anything which we would not want to be found saying when Jesus returns. And it is good to set our hearts not to think anything which we would not want to be found thinking when Jesus returns. We will see God in the future. But at the same time we need pure hearts
Sometimes Christians have problems with prayer or worship or serving God or knowing God’s will. But that is not surprising if our minds are filled with all kinds of rubbish which squeezes God out.
Psalm 24 3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

If we are serious about meeting with God we need clean hands AND a pure heart!
Blessed are the pure in heart – holy through and through. This is not some optional extra for super-keen Christians. Holiness and purity is an essential part of Christian maturity. But we can’t do it on our own. To develop the mind of Christ we need the help of God the Holy Spirit. May God help us all to become pure in heart, so that we can see him better, now and forever.
Listen and reflect on these words of Psalm 51
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Spirit of the Living God, Fall afresh on me;
Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me.
Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me.
Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me.

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