Blessed Are The Pure In Heart
By Lee Jones
This beatitude is the one with the most potential to be misunderstood or misapplied. Again, as with all Bible studies, we must consider the context of the surrounding verses, and also the rest of the Bible, to ensure our application is proper.
The last thing I would ever call myself is pure at heart. I certainly hope all my brothers and sisters in the faith can agree that none of us are pure in this life. Try as we might to not sin, we all have times where we do something we ought not do, or fail to do some we ought to have done (both of these are the definition of sin). So how do we ever stand a chance to see God if we are not pure?
The glory of this Beatitude is that it is a promise that will ultimately be fulfilled when we meet Christ.
That was certainly an issue for the Jewish people of Jesus’ day. They had an entire framework of purity laws: ritual models of handwashing, dishwashing, body washing (like in the mikvah ritual baths), just to name three. Yet Jesus rebuked them because they were only outwardly pure, but not inwardly. “And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also” (Luke 11:39-40, NASB). Their hearts were not renewed, so they were not truly purified.
Instead, the pure in heart are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and continually seek to be filled. They are the ones who mourned over their sins and show mercy. Let’s look at some cross-references to help us define what purity looks like, and what is its goal.
Psalm 24:3-4 says:
“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.”
Lies and deceit are sinful, because God never lies. The pure in heart do not make a practice of these things, because the Holy Spirit will bring them to repentance of sins. Hebrews 12:14 teaches us to be at peace with others and to pursue sanctification, without which we will not see God. If we don’t have sanctification, our salvation proves to be invalid, as works only proceed from faith.
Finally, when Christ returns to usher in the New Jerusalem after his church’s glorification is complete, the redeemed will finally behold our redeemer face to face. Revelation 22:4 says, “we will see his face, and his name will be on our foreheads.) Back in Deuteronomy, the people is Israel were instructed to wear scripture as a “frontlet between the eyes.” (Deut. 11:18) On the day of Christ’s return, his name will be forever written there instead.
The glory of this Beatitude is that it is a promise that will ultimately be fulfilled when we meet Christ. We are being sanctified now, but we will be finally purified on that glorious day. After all, it should be the great desire of every Christian to eagerly seek purity and to look forward to unmediated communion with YHWH. Let us spur each other on to faith and good works as we await his return.
Glory to God alone.