Blessed are the Pure in Heart
There are differing thoughts as to whether the words of Yeshua refer to the new heart received at regeneration (new life) or to that cleansing and purifying process of moral character that results from the continual work of God’s grace in the heart, mind, and spirit of the believer. It seems right that Jesus was referring to both the hopeful new believer and the intentional follower who is now hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of God. And, although the importance of the order in which Jesus places this particular beatitude is not significant, it again, does seem right that the purity of heart with which He proclaims His blessing is referring to that internal cleansing that comes with the new birth in Christ - being made new. Since we know firsthand that there is no inward purity that exists in the natural man (apart from God), the purity attributed and credited by Christ to the man seeking godliness should be tracked backwards to its beginnings, to the Spirit’s sovereign work of regeneration.
From the repentant heart of the Psalmist we hear,
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
This spiritual purity that God demands and provides for penetrates far beyond the mere outward actions and reformations that make up such a large part of the perception that Christians want to put ou there. Much of what we have seen around us is a perception religion—the perception of one thing and in reality another. Or worse yet, an intellectual or head religion that pushes out what we know yet unsubstantiated by how we live. Jesus confirmed this as he taught his audience by the Sea of Galilee that day that God "looks on the heart" when said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
The author is saying that God looks upon the whole inner being, including the level of understanding, the motives and affections, and obviously the will (surrendered or unsurrendered). Because God looks within He must give a "new heart" to His people and blessed are those who have received it - it is a pure heart that is acceptable and good to the one who gives.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Since we have concluded that this sixth Beatitude considers both the new heart received at regeneration and the transformation of character that follows God’s work of grace in the heart, mind, and soul. It is important to look at this cleansing and purifying process in a practical way of daily application - where do I find this truth it when I need it most?
If we have learned anything in this unpacking of biblical truth it is surely that the “pure in heart” Jesus blesses is an inclusive process. An inclusive process meant for the entire being of the one who seeks His righteousness - heart, mind, and spirit. Here is a four-stage process to use as step-by-step application.
First, there is a "washing of regeneration." This is characterized by the evidence of new life, renewed mind, new heart, and a new name.
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Secondly, from this new life-cleansed life we understand there is a “moral cleansing of the affections”, which are now prioritized by those things set-above, and not those things set-below.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Thirdly, this process is not merely a heart-centric or one of emotive affections - it is clearly intended as to be spiritually holistic - heart, mind and soul as the “cleaning of the conscience” is prioritized as well. I fully believe that this is connected to the renewing of the mind - the mind that is made new.
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
This promise refers to the removal of the tormenting and the relentless replay of conscious guilt and shame. I believe this “pure heart” cleaning process also includes the healing of mind and spirit. The resiliency and resolution needed for re-establishing hope for navigating the trauma-related events and circumstances of life.
Finally, we are moved to the inward realization that, "being justified by faith", we are finding the kind of peace with God that allows for hope and promise. Difficulty and suffering have finally found meaning and purpose for something good - something other than simply pain, anxiety, and depression.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
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