THE GOSPELS 29
ONLY THE PURE IN HEART CAN SEE GOD
The sixth of these principles is another characteristic of God Himself, and therefore, it can only be achieved by His grace, and with the help of His Holy Spirit. Our part in the process is to place our faith in Him, and to try to keep the earth man within us, out of the way. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”.
Before getting into this beautiful beatitude, I want to pause here and talk about words. Religious people are fond of using biblical terms and quoting biblical words in their religious activities. However, they do not all use them in the same way. Every word in the English language is subject to many meanings. Therefore one must be very careful that the meaning he attaches to the word is the same meaning that the writer in the Bible intended for it to have. This is the cause of much of the division in the religious world, and much sad failure on the part of Christian people to really be and do what God wants them to be and do.
Let us look at a couple of examples that show clearly what we are talking about. Take the word “faith”. Many people claim to have faith and to live by faith, because they are not atheists or agnostics. They believe in the Creator, so they assume they have faith. But the word used by the Hebrew writer meant so much more than this. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe that He is, AND that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”. To diligently seek God is to strive to know His will, and in order to have a relationship with Him, one must really try to act as if He was present with you all the time. Simply to have a belief in God’s existence, as a part of your overall philosophy, is not the faith the Bible talks about. That faith is a dynamic, which changes your life and governs your behavior every day.
Another word is “joy”. Christians love this word. It is so pleasant to express joy…to proclaim it…to sing about it. However, Paul was urging people under persecution and having no pleasure in life, to have joy. What did the word mean to these people? How could they be joyful? The answer is simple. Their joy was not the happy fun type of joy. It was the joy of knowing that in the blood of Jesus Christ their sins were forgiven. That is the joy of the Bible, not the bubbly ecstatic happy joy of dancing and singing. However, that joy can only be known by those who are seriously conscious of sin, and who see its damnable consequences in the Cross. Those who are not conscious of, and saddened by, their sins can never know the joy the biblical writers talk about.
I have taken this much time to try to point out the importance of understanding the Bible meaning of Bible words, because we are about to talk about some words, in this beatitude, which need to be seriously understood as Jesus meant them to be.
At one time Jesus saw a man named Nathaniel. Jesus, who knew the hearts of all with whom He came in contact, said, “Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile”. This wonderful description of Nathaniel is what this beatitude is all about. The “pure in heart” are those without ulterior motives. The word for pure here, in the original language, means absolutely unmixed. I am told that there was a word for “pure” wine which meant wine mixed with absolutely pure water, but there was another word for “pure” wine which meant wine mixed with nothing else. That is the word used here.
Even the best of us have times in which we do good things because we will get something out of it. We seek approbation and ego satisfying results, or even the gratitude of others, which will work to our advantage. After all, we are doing something good. This is why Jesus urged us to pray in secret, and to keep our giving confidential. The pure in heart have no self-serving motives. The word pure here does not mean having a morally good heart which is not filled with evil. It means that your motives are always without self-interest, and are designed to serve others, not yourself. This is what God did when He sent His Son to die for us. Your salvation is purely by grace. It is the gift of God.
Finally, Jesus said the man with a pure heart will see God. How often must we repeat that God is Spirit? He is not perceived with human eyes. Jesus said, “No man hath seen the Father…the only Begotten Son…He hath declared Him”. The word “see” used in this beatitude has a special biblical meaning. It means to perceive the true spirit of God. Only when one works to achieve purity of heart will he understand who God is, and what He is like, and what it means to have a relationship with Him.
Those who want to make Heaven a place enjoyed with human senses, and fulfilling human desires, do violence to the reality of God’s nature. The books about Heaven, that make it appealing to our human desires, violate the purity of heart which has as its only motivation pleasing God, and not ourselves. This is the “pure heart” that allows us to really see Him in His true glory, and glorify Him and Him alone, as the essence of all that is good and wonderful now and forevermore.