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“Beatitudes series: Pure people see God”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 114

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8 NIV11)

What does it mean that the pure hearted will see God? And how is this connected to the kingdom of heaven?

In this series we are immersing ourselves in the beatitudes – Matthew 5:5:3-12.  We’re trying to figure out what each beatitude means for us practically and how that affects our relationship with God, and in particular, our times of quiet with God.

The reason this is on my mind is because I am preparing a teaching and preaching series for the Thames Valley churches of Christ, and a teaching day for the Watford Church of Christ based on the sermon on the mount.

Join me today as I examine what it means to be pure in heart.

Showing mercy needs a pure heart because it must be done altruistically.  Although the merciful will be shown mercy, the reward is not something that a merciful person thinks about. 

  1. What is purity of heart?
    • The heart is the source of our struggles with sin (Jer 17.9, Mk 7:17-23).  It is not our environment.  This is why dealing with the heart is so important.  We may be able to change our circumstances, but the heart will not change because of that. The Fall happened in paradise.  
    • The heart is at the core of who we are.  “..the heart means the centre of the personality.”  It is the mind, the will, the heart. The Bible enjoins us to purity because God is pure (1 John 3:3) & holy (Hebrews 12:14).  This beatitude connects directly to the first great commandment to love God will all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
    • A mark of purity is total sincerity. The JB Phillips translation has this as, “Happy are the utterly sincere, for they will see God!”  Public life and private life match up.  No hypocrisy. 
    • Why bother with keeping a pure heart?  Because we will be like our Lord, who is pure of heart, in the next life (1 John 3:2-3).  A Christian strives to be as much like his or her Lord because he is our model and hope.  One who does this is displaying that, “His present efforts are consistent with his future hope.”
  2. What does it mean to ’see’ God?
    • What does it mean to ‘see’ God?  Not literal.  In being like God are we seeing more clearly who he is?  A bit like a child growing up and people saying he looks more and more like his father and mother, and also the child themselves comes to understand their parents better.  Others see more of God in us, but we also see more of God.
    • Some of this is fulfilled in eternity with God.  For then we shall see him as he truly is.  We shall see face to face (1 Cor 13:12).
  3. How can I grow in purity of heart?
    • David wanted a pure heart – Ps 51:10
    • Only God can give us a pure heart (Phil 2:13).  But we should not remain passive (James 4:8, Col 3:5ff, Rom 8:13).
    • We are not capable of keeping our own hearts pure, of course.  So what can this mean?  Perhaps it refers to keeping a spiritually narrow focus in life (Psalm 86:11). 
    • Rather than a moral purity perhaps it refers more to a relational purity.  The sort of thing we see in marriage and in covenants.  Old Testament covenants focussed on Israel having only one God.  Marriage is a relationship characterised by a commitment to one another exclusive of all other people.  I have one wife and I have one God.  I have a ‘purity’ of heart in this.  There must be no ‘mixing’ of my commitment to these relationships or else the relationships themselves will be compromised. 
    • ‘Pure’ silver is that which is not mixed with alloys.  ‘Purity of heart’ means that I will not allow myself to be distracted and polluted by the world (James 1:27).  A person who is divided in his loyalties is not pure of heart (Rom 7:22-23).  

In relation to these being the norms of the kingdom, this is a tough teaching but a logical one. We have one king – we must be loyal to him. 
How does this beatitude affect our times of quiet with God?

Suggestions:

  1. Pray for an awareness of the way in which your circumstances trigger your temptations. But also pray that you would find the strength available from God to help you remain pure no matter what the circumstances may be. 
  2. Pray for a tenderness towards purity. Ask God to reveal more of himself to you and in you.
  3. Be decisive about cutting out anything from your life which divides your heart towards God.

What does being pure of heart mean to you? How do you recognise when you are striving for purity? What symptoms are you aware of when you have lost touch with the significance of purity of heart?


Retreat updateThere are still a few places left for the spiritual disciplines retreat, “Wait for the LORD”.  You can find details on the dedicated page of my website.  If you have any questions, please drop me a line: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.  I’m working on the booklet which I will send out in advance. This will contain information about the area, the details of the schedule, some tips on how to make the most of the retreat and an exposition of Psalm 130.


Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

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God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John