Blessed are the Pure in Heart

For They Shall See God


Dr. John Hoole – October 11, 2015



If you are new to our class, we are in the midst of examining the Beatitudes, as mentioned in Matthew 5.  Today, we examine beatitude #6.


Matthew 5:8 NKJV


8   Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.


The first thing we learn from this beatitude is that Jesus is concerned with our heart.  It is not enough to clean up our act on the outside   Righteousness is not to only be displayed in public, but, more importantly, it is to be a matter of the heart as well.


Matthew 23:25-26 NKJV


25             Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.

26             Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.


From the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus focuses on the internal -- on what men and women are like in their minds and hearts.  And the next six blocks of Scripture, which make up the remainder of Matthew, Chap. 5 are, in part, illustrations of this righteousness of the heart.


Christ is emphasizing the divine standards for living in His kingdom that He began to establish in the Beatitudes.  Spiritual characteristics found in the Beatitudes, such as, spiritual poverty, mourning over sin, hungering & thirsting after righteousness, meekness, purity in heart (integrity), .all reflect an inner righteousness.  Even “showing mercy” and being a “peacemaker,” although outwardly displayed require a correct state of one’s heart.


For a moment I want to consider a passage we will address later in our study of the Sermon on the Mount.  I want to take you to verse 21 and following in Matthew 5.  You will see its relationship these verses have with the 6th beatitude.  But first, I want to return to Matthew 5:1.  Follow with me as I quote the first 20 verses of this chapter.


Again, the 6th beatitude speaks of “purity of heart.”


So, when we come to verse 21 through the end of chapter 5, Christ gives us six illustration of what he had said up to this point.  They deal with the specific subjects of murder, sexual sin, divorce, speaking the truth, retaliation, and loving others.  These are very practical and He brings them down to where we actually live.


As He presents them, he uses the same format in these 6 illustrations.  See if you can recognize it.


Matthew 5:21-24 NKJV


21             "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.'

22             But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.

23             Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24             leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.


And, then in verse 27, the second of the six illustrations, we read:


Matthew 5:27-28 NKJV


27             You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.'

28             But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


He says it is not just the outward act of homicide that is wrong but hatred and anger in one’s heart is equally murderous.  It’s not just the physical act of adultery which is sinful, but he that looks and lusts (desires) after a woman has already committed adultery in his heart -- and so on, through the remainder of chapter 5.


Contrary to the external, superficial, and hypocritical righteousness that typified the scribes and Pharisees, the righteousness God requires of his followers is first of all internal.  If it does not exist in the heart, it does not exist at all.


Though it may have been long forgotten or neglected by most Jews of Jesus’ day, that truth was presented to them throughout the Old Testament.


Solomon prayed, in 1 Kings 8:39(NASB)….


Hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart Thou knowest for Thou alone dost know the hearts of all the sons of men.


In David’s last words to Solomon he said,


     As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. (1 Chron. 28:9- NASB)


Hanani the prophet reminded King Asa,


     For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.  (2 Chron. 16:8NASB)


Proverbs 16:2 tells us,


     All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives.


So, in the 6th beatitude, Christ emphasizes what has from the beginning been an essential element in the life and character of His followers.


Now that we have looked at the context and background information, let us again consider Matthew 5:8 NKJV.


8   Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.


Here is one of those passages of Scripture whose depths are immeasurable and whose breadth is impossible to encompass.  This incredible statement of Jesus is among the greatest utterances in all of the Bible.  The subject of holiness – of purity of heart – can be traced – from Genesis to Revelation.  The theme is infinitely vast and touches on virtually every other biblical truth.


Amit Christian writes:  “This beatitude is one of the most striking of all beatitudes.  For who can claim to be pure in heart?  If we peek into our hearts, we all know that we are not pure.”  If we peek into our hearts, we all know that we are not pure.  We have thoughts, attitudes, desires which are not pure.  We may hide it from others, but we cannot hide it from ourselves or God.


So, what can we learn from this beatitude?  Let me start with some of the Bible verses related to “pure in heart” and let the Word of God speak to you through it.


Psalms 24:3-5 NKJV


3   Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place?

4   He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.

5   He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.


1 Timothy 1:5 NKJV


5   Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,


Psalms 51:10 NIV


10             Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.


Psalms 119:9-10 NIV


  9             How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

10             I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.


That God is first of all concerned about what men are like on the inside is a central truth of both Old and New Testaments.A good outward act is validated before God only when it honestly represents what is on the inside.


In the last Book of the Bible the Lord warns the church at Thyatira,


     I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds  (Rev. 2:23).


Right external behavior pleases Him when it corresponds to right internal attitudes and motives.  The presumed good deeds of the proud scribes and self-glorying Pharisees did not come from the heart attitudes Jesus says must be exemplified by His kingdom’s Citizens, namely poverty of spirit, mourning over sin, meekness, hunger and thirst for righteousness and so on.


When Jesus said, in Matthew 5:20, that the righteousness of his followers must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, He was making a very radical statement, because in Jesus’ day, the people looked at the scribes and Pharisees as people who epitomized the very thought of righteousness.  How could anyone have a righteousness surpassing theirs.


And yet, by the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has them eating His words out of the palm of His hand.  After He had finished his sermon, it is recorded:


Matthew 7:28-29 NKJV


28             And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,

29             for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.


The reason He could get people to be awed by what He said and follow Him wherever He went, was because He used parables and illustrations that were conveyed in common language and spoke to situations that the people all understood.  What He said wasn’t hyperbolic, or esoteric, or secretive.  Rather, He spoke in very practical and instructive terms.


Once again, Matthew 5:8 NKJV


8   Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.


The word “blessed,” as we have already noted in earlier lessons, implies the condition of well-being that results from one’s right relation to God.  Being accepted by Him is a matter of internal transformation.  And the previous 5 beatitudes lead to purity and transformation of heart.




The word, pure, is translated from the Greek KATHAROS.  It is from this Greek word we get our English word Catharsis.  The basic meaning is to make pure by cleansing from dirt, filth and contamination.  Catharsis is also a term used in psychology and counseling for a cleansing of the mind and emotions.  This Greek word is also the source of the Latin word, castus, and it is from this word we get our word, chaste.


This Greek word was often used of metals that had been refined until all impurities were removed.  In that sense, purity means unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated.  In applying it to the heart, the idea is that of pure motives, as well as of single-mindedness, undivided devotion, spiritual integrity and true righteousness.


‘PURE’ is an absolute term.  Can you say that this is “purer.”  Yes, the word, purer, is in the dictionary, and has the definition, “having fewer flaws or impurities.”  But when making a statement like: This is purer than that, we are not saying that either this or that are actually pure.  We are saying that one has less impurities or flaws.  Being pure itself means that it is not defiled, polluted or mixed with any  impurities.


The heart is regarded as being the seat of the intellect, the feelings and the will.  Often, the term ‘heart’ implies the whole moral nature of fallen mankind.


Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV


9   The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?


So, how can we make our heart pure?  It is actually far beyond our ability to make it pure.  It is God, and God alone, who initiates, sanctifies, and perfects the heart of those who put their trust in Him.  It begins when we realize that we cannot do it on our own.  As we learned in the very first beatitude – Blessed are the poor in spirit, we are absolutely spiritually bankrupt, having nothing that would bring salvation to us.




Our English word heart is translated from the Greek KARDIA.  From this Greek word we get our English word, Cardiac, cardiology, cardiovascular.  Throughout Scripture and in most cultures of the world, the heart is used metaphorically to represent the inner person.  It is the seat of motives and attitudes, the center of personality.  But in Scripture, it represents more than emotions and feelings.  It also represents the thinking process and particularly the will. 


We are told in Proverbs, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:3).


Jesus asked a group of scribes, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8; 7:21).  The heart is the control center of mind and will as well as emotion.


In total contrast to the outward, superficial, and hypocritical religion of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said that it is in the inner man, in the core of his very being, that God requires purity.  This was not a new truth, but an old one long forgotten amidst ceremony and tradition.


Proverbs 4:23 NKJV


23             Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.


The problem that caused God to destroy the earth in the Flood was a heart problem.


Genesis 6:5 NKJV


5        Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.


God has always been concerned above all else with the inside of man, with the condition of his heart.


The 6th beatitude is one of the most striking of all beatitudes.  Who can claim to be pure in the heart?  If we peek into our hearts, we all know we are not pure, having thoughts, attitudes and desires that are not pure.  We may hide it from others, but we cannot hide it from ourselves.


Speaking of being single-minded in our desire for purity of heart, let me spend a little more time to examine this in Scripture.


A Broken and a Contrite Heart


Take a look at Psalms 51:17 NKJV


17             The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart —  These, O God, You will not despise.




To be broken and contrite is to have a spirit of repentance.  It is daily dying to sin and living in the newness of Christ’s forgiveness.  The Hebrew word translated “broken” also means: Crushed, shattered.


After we sin, the first step to back to God is to have a changed heart.  This always begins with humble contrition of heart because you have erred against the One who loves you dearly.  This is to bow down before God because our inner spirit is crushed with a sense of guilt.


A contrite heart:


            •  does not try to rationalize or excuse or justify our sin.


            •  does not even mean feeling bad or remorseful about sin.


            •  does not try to fool God or ourselves.  It recognizes that God requires truth and honesty.


            •  does not try to blame circumstances or other people or God for our own failure.


When we become aware of our sin and transgressions against God, and are broken and contrite, we need to know that: 


                        •  God isn’t interested in empty apologies.


                        •  God doesn’t want simple New Year’s resolutions to do better.


                        •  God cares nothing about our efforts to balance your sins with a little more good.


Don’t be conned into believing that if you have done more good than sin, then God looks on you as one headed for Heaven.  God doesn’t grade on a curve.


Rather, God desires a broken and contrite and humbled heart of one who determines to turn from their sin, to forsake their sin, and to abandon it.  Only then is our sacrifice to God acceptable to Him.


When we come to God with a broken and contrite heart, He has provided a promise through the prophet Isaiah.


Isaiah 57:15 NIV


15             For this is what the high and lofty One says —  he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.


As a believer and a priest before God, your sacrifice of a broken spirit and a broken, contrite heart is not despised by Him.


Here is another thought I want to bring into our discussion.  A broken heart is not the same as a divided heart!


Psalm 119:2 says: “blessed are those who…seek Him with all their heart.”  Notice other verse in Psalm 119Verse 34:  (NKJV)    “I shall observe it (God’s Law) with my whole heart.”  Verse 58:  (NKJV)  “The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.”


To seek and serve God with our whole heart means not to be divided with many things being the object of our affections.  We will not really know God until our hearts are one toward Him.


It is one thing to be divided. – It is quite another to be broken.  One of these God hates. – The other He loves.  In fact, there is no heart so complete and whole in seeking after God as a heart that is broken before Him.  I am speaking of a heart where every fragment sighs and cries after the Savior’s face.


It is the divided heart that the Scriptures abhor.  A heart may be divided, but not broken.  It may be broken, yet not divided.  And yet, praise the Lord, it may be broken and still be completely whole.  But it cannot be completely whole until it is broken before God.


Let me finish our discussion about the sacrifice of a broken heart by comparing it to a simple story of a boy with a lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fishes.  Think of that little boy whose lunch was preempted by the disciples.  We are not told whether the boy gave it up willingly, or whether the disciples just took it.  But whatever the case was, I don’t believe that that little boy ever forgot Jesus or ever regretted the sacrifice.


Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread into pieces and handed them to the disciples.  Focus on the fact that Christ broke the bread into pieces.  You see, the pieces could feed a multitude, while the entire loaf would just satisfy a little boy.


God needs, greatly needs, people who can draw near to Him with a pure heart, It is the pure in heart that is promised to see God.      What greater blessing could there be?  The Greek word translated “SEE” is in the future indicative tense, and, literally, means “They shall be continuously seeing God for themselves.”


Like Moses, who saw God’s glory and asked to see more (Exodus 33:18), the one who’s heart is purified by Jesus Christ sees again and again the glory of God.  Also, like Moses, David wanted to see more of God, and wrote, “As the deer pants for the water brook, so my soul pants for Thee, O God.”


In the final verse of Matthew 5, we read:


Matthew 5:48 NKJV


48      Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.


Only those who are pure in heart may enter the kingdom.  David asked: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who may stand in His holy place?”  David answers his own question with, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart (Ps. 24:3,4).