Matthew Chapter 5 and verse 8. I want to read to you all the verses in the Beatitudes as the setting for our thoughts and then we'll have prayer together and we'll look together at this one verse. Beginning in verse 1, Matthew records "And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain and when He was seated His disciples came unto Him. And He opened His mouth and taught them saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for the shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets who were before you."
Let's share together in prayer. Father, we come to You tonight with deep sense of need in our own lives. It only takes a cursory look at the verse to know that we in and of ourselves can't qualify. For Lord, in our lives there are things that are not pure. There are always those things that are not right. And Lord, we are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness. A righteousness we know in and of ourselves is an absolute impossibility. We are those who desire to be pure in heart Lord, but the battle is so hard. And the purity that we seek is so elusive. Just when we think we have it, we lose it. Lord, I pray that You'll help me by the search light of the word of God in the hands of the Holy Spirit of God to look at my own life tonight. And everyone of these dear people gathered here to look at their lives as well.
Father, I first of all am so grateful that this people would come to be exposed to the truth of this word. Thank You for the kind of people who will bring their lives to the test of the word of God. Who will come not to hear some fascination discussed or some theme unrelated to living. Not to deal in just some kind of tickling of the fancy, but who will come when they know that they'll be dealing with purity of heart and will place their life under the scrutiny of the word of God. God, for that kind of Spirit, I'm thankful and I know that's the kind of attitude with which You can deal and work and the kind of life that you can perfect and conform and mature to the image of Jesus Christ. And so Lord may what I say not be man's word, may I not speak in the power of my own mind and my own spirit, but may I be nothing but a mouthpiece through which the Spirit of God can speak. May we not listen for the cleverness of men, but may we listen for the voice of God. May we not apply things to others, but may we apply them only to ourselves. Give us the honesty to do that. Help us not to think of another, but only of us. And Father, we pray that when we're done we will be better equipped to serve You, more committed to Your glory than ever we have been before. With that anticipation we thank You for what You'll do in Christ's name. Amen.
There are some things in the Bible that you feel you can sort of handle. There are some truths in the Bible that you feel you can get a grip on and transmit. But then there are those things that seem like they are bottomless pits. They are wells whose depths are immeasurable. They are truths the breadth of which are impossible to encompass. This is one of those. To attempt to deal with such an incredible statement as "Blessed are the pure and heart for they shall see God." In one brief time would be an insult to God and to the power and the depth and insight of His own word.
This is one of the greatest utterances I believe in all of the Bible and there's no way that I can even begin to deal with it let alone exhaust it. It's one of those all encompassing things that stretches over everything else that's revealed in Scripture. The subject of purity of heart can be tracked from the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible. As one little boy put it "from geniuses to revolution." The them of purity of heart being necessary to see God is something that is vast and infinite. And it draws in almost every single biblical theme. There's no way we're going to be able to discover all that's here. But we've asked the Lord to help us to be able to at least focus on a central meaning that will be rich and meaningful for us.
Now our format in discussing the Beatitudes has been to ask some questions and then answer them. As we've said to you, you can't outline a simple statement like that really. All you need to do is just kind of turn it loose. And I find that the best way to approach something like this is to ask questions. That's what I do. In fact, what I'm giving you in these weeks is simply what I have asked of these verses. And the first question I asked of this was this question. What is the context for these words?
What is the setting in which Jesus said them? First of all, in its historical setting, what did Jesus refer to and to what issue was He speaking when He said this. And then, not only that, but in chronology why does this one appear here in the list of Beatitudes. To me this seems so crucial and so fantastically important and so utterly absolute in its necessity that it doesn't seem right at first glance to see it just sort of stuck in there indiscriminately as it appears. I'm wondering why it doesn't have a more strategic place perhaps at the beginning or the middle of the end.
So what is its setting and what is the context for these words? First, historically and then literarily. Now let's look at history first of all. And I don't need to spend too much time on this because you're becoming great historians as we're going through the setting in which our Lord is speaking here, but I'll try to refresh your memory. Remember first of all, that at the time of Jesus Christ's entrance into the world and the time that He began His ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem, Israel was in a desperate condition. Israel was in a desperate condition economically, politically, and most important of all, spiritually.
Now, we've talked in some great detail about the political situation in Israel. We've talked about the fact that they were anticipating a Messiah who would come and set up some kind of a political overthrow, knock off the Roman oppression and establish the kingdom. We've dealt with that, but tonight, I want to kind of focus in on Israel's spiritual condition at the time that Jesus came, because this is the issue with which our Lord is dealing predominately in the Sermon on the Mount. He is talking about spiritual things here. They're not political, they're not economic, they are spiritual. Particularly, verse 8, this Beatitude has at it's heart a spiritual reality. Now let me talk about Israel's spiritual condition at the time Christ began His ministry.
They were for the most part, burdened by an oppressive, authoritative character on the part of the Pharisees. The dominant influence and the dominant force on Israel at the time of Christ's ministry were the Pharisees. A legalistic system, in fact, usually tends to dominate the scene wherever it exists. It tends to draw such absolute parameters around what is spiritually acceptable that by virtue of its definitive character it tends to be the oppressive and reigning thing. And so in this particular time of Israel's history the Pharisees were the dominant force on the life of the people.
They had misinterpreted the law of Moses. They had, because of inability to keep the law of Moses, invented new laws that they could keep and so they could pacify their conscience by keeping their traditions if they couldn't keep God's laws. And so out of their misinterpretation of mosaic law and out of a sort of a quasi commitment to mosaic law and out of an addendum which they had added to mosaic law, they had formed a relentless and imposing rigid system of legalistic duty on the people. And by the way, it was absolutely impossible to perform it. And that was something of the frustration of the lawyer who came to Jesus and finally said in the last gasp effort to try to acquiesce to a legalistic system that he couldn't handle, "Lord what is the one thing that we can do? Just give me one thing that I can do and please You. What is the one thing?" And the Lord said, that's easy, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself. And if you've done that you've fulfilled all the law and the prophets."
Well, it wasn't so easy was it? But it was a frustrated lawyer that came to that point, because there was no way that they keep all the law. In fact, the leaders themselves had decided, if you read history you'll find out, that if you could just keep a few of the laws God would understand. And then they couldn't even do that, so they said if you could just find one law and keep it, God would understand and that's what that lawyer was really after. What's that one thing we can do? So what is interesting is that as you look at the mass of people in Israel, it seems apparent to me that they were somewhat frustrated by a legal system which they could not keep. And it produced in them tremendous guilt as well as frustration and anxiety. And it would in a people who were really committed no matter how superficial it was to the reality of God and to the fact that God revealed Himself in laws.
So here they were given a set of laws. They were already a religious people, and they knew they needed to obey these laws, that's what their society was telling them, they knew they couldn't do it and so they lived with a tremendous amount of frustration, anxiety and guilt, just as anybody does under any legal system. That is a...that is an impossible system. Now you can invent on that just incorporates the things you can do and justify yourself. But in this case, they were hopeless. And so the oppression of the legal system had created a tremendous amount of guilt.
Now personally, I believe this is one of the things that contributed so dramatically to the power of the ministry of John the Baptist. I think John the Baptist had a ready audience because people were literally looking for some place to go to relieve the burden of sin. When John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness, you remember that multitudes flocked to John the Baptist. That they literally came to him in huge crowds. And even, it says, the Pharisees and the Sadducees and scribes would show up. I believe that the reason it says all Israel, all Jerusalem was coming to John was because there was this tremendous oppression and the consequent guilt from the legal system and the people's hearts were literally aching for a sense of forgiveness, a sense of salvation, a sense of tranquility to their very troubled souls.
They were crying for a Savior, crying for a Redeemer, crying for one who would come and not impose more rules on them. Not another rabbi with another rule, but one who would come and forgive them for the ones that they had always broken. And they knew that God long before had promised a Redeemer. And they knew the word of Isaiah well enough to know that there would come one who would forgive their sin. There would come one who would do away with their iniquity. There would come one who would right the wrongs. There would come one to find the remnant of honest and truly motivated people.
The people who really worshiped God and He would come and He would cleanse them and they knew the word of Ezekiel that some day God was going to come and God was going to sprinkle them with water and they would be clean and God was going to take out the stony heart and put in a heart of flesh. God was going to wash them from their iniquities. God was going to purge them from their sins. And they knew the testimony of David who knew what it was to have that sense of forgiveness, who knew what it was to cry out and say oh God happy is the man whose iniquities are not imputed to him. They knew that, but they just never experienced it.
And so here they were under this tremendous burden of oppression. And when John the Baptist came an announced that there was a Messiah, there was a Redeemer, there was a Savior, it's no wonder to me that they came out and when he began to say "repent for the kingdom is at hand," they couldn't get there fast enough to repent, to unload the burden and seek the forgiveness that the Messiah could give. Now one of the reasons I believe this is true is because this seems to be the longing in the heart of people as they met Jesus.
For example, look with me at the 3rdChapter of John. John Chapter, in John Chapter 3, in verse 1, it says, "There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews." Now here was a Pharisee. Now Nicodemus was a pretty honest guy, and if he had any honesty at all and I'm confident that he did, because that's what drew him to Christ, if he had any integrity at all, you knew he was in real trouble. The emphatic was used here. Now this man was thee teacher, the ruler in Israel. Top man in terms of recitation of divine principles. This was an important man, but he was a frustrated man. His heart was filled with anxiety and he came to Jesus and he said, "Rabbi, we know thou are the teacher come from God. For no man can do the things that thou doest except God be with Him."
Now, that's a tremendous insight into what was on his mind. He found somebody from God. Why? Because he wanted to know what God said about something. He came at night to Jesus and he said, "You're from God. I know you're from God because of what you do. Nobody could do those things except He be from God." And in his heart was this tremendous question. And what was the question? The question is what do I have to do to be righteous? What do I have to do to get in your kingdom? What do I have to do to be a child of God? What do I have to do so that God will redeem me? That was the question. And Nicodemus, by the way, never even asked the question. Why? He didn't get a chance. Jesus read his mind. Jesus answered what he didn't ask in verse 3.
Jesus answered, isn't that great? Sometimes you don't even need to ask the question. He knows the question. He just gives the answer. Jesus answered the question in his heart and said, "Verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." What was Nicodemus's question? How can I see the kingdom of God? See? That was the question. And Jesus said, by being born again. Now that is the gnawing question in the heart of the Jew in the time of Christ. Nicodemus looks at his life and says I know I'm a Pharisee and I'm trying to keep the law. And I'm a ruler in the land and I'm a teacher of the law and all of these things, but I'm not sure this enough. He was honest enough to admit his sinfulness and as one who tried to keep the law he had failed miserably. And so he says what do I need to do to enter the kingdom?
You go over to Chapter 6 of the gospel of John and verse 28. And here come the people again. And Jesus, of course, has done this marvelous miracle of feeding 25,000 people plus, no doubt. And they said unto Him, in verse 28, this is so clear. "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?" And Jesus answered and said unto them, "This is the work of God that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." Now you know what they're really saying? It's the same thing as Nicodemus. We know the whole legal system. We know the whole ritualistic routine. We've got all the ceremonies down. We've got the traditions down. What do we do to know the reality of the work of God. See? How do you get behind the ceremony to the reality?
It's the same question and it betrays the attitude of the hearts of the people of Israel at this time. They wanted something real. They wanted to know you really get in the kingdom, because if you got in the kingdom by keeping the law, nobody would be in the kingdom and they knew it, if they were honest. Look with me at the 10thChapter of Luke and verse 25. And this is very straightforward. "And behold a certain lawyer stood up and questioned Him saying, Master what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Now apart from what Jesus said to him, that is the same question. That's what the multitude wants to know. That's what Nicodemus wants to know. What's the standard? I mean, what is the way you get in the kingdom. How do you get relief from guilt and anxiety and frustration that comes when you are faced with a legal system to please God and you know you cannot do it.
That was ever and always the question on the hearts of the people. The 18thChapter of Luke and the 18thverse, we find another man. This time it's not a lawyer, but it's a young ruler. But his question is the same. "And a certain ruler asked Him saying, good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" You see it is always the same basic question. How do we get to the reality? See? How do we get behind the ceremony? How do we get forgiveness? How do we get in the kingdom? They had no sense of security, you see. Faced with a legal system which you cannot keep and cannot maintain, you are faced with a terrible sense of insecurity. And they wanted to know how they could have security. How they could know they were citizens of the kingdom.
And I really think that this was the perfect time for Jesus to come, because He had the right answer. You see God is a holy God. And God as a holy God does absolutely righteous. In Him there is no sin. And God offers salvation to sinful man. And sinful man says to himself how can a holy God give salvation to a sinful man. And a Jew says how can it be? An honest devout Jew would say how can I ever enter God's kingdom when I can't keep God's laws? If that's the condition, how can I do it?
And that poses the question that Jesus answers in the Beatitudes. The simple question is this, "how can a person be saved?" How can a person be saved? How do you enter the kingdom? How do you inherit eternal life? How do you become righteous? How do you get in the kind of a situation where a holy God with no sin can ever accept you? How can that be? And believe me, this is the question most in the minds of the people sitting on that Galilean hillside as our Lord speaks in Matthew Chapter 5. Now you remember that He had gone about all Galilee teaching in the synagogues preaching the gospel of the kingdom? Healing all manner of diseases and His fame went everywhere and when the crowd came they had heard about Him. They had seen Him, heard His teaching. His miracles had been spread abroad and they had one great question. How can a person enter the kingdom? What kind of righteousness must we have to be accepted by the Messiah, to become part of the kingdom? How do we get in?
And I believe more than any other single Beatitude this Beatitude, verse 8, gives the answer. "Blessed are the pure in heart for they," altoi, they and they alone is the emphatic meaning, "shall see God." If I can paraphrase, you want to know who gets in the kingdom? The pure in heart and they and they alone will see God in His kingdom. That's the answer. It's the pure in heart. Now watch this, it is not those who observe the external washings. It is not those who go through the outside ceremonies. It is not those who have what I've chosen to call the religion of human achievement. It's not those who crank out a ritualistic external works righteousness system. It is the ones who've had their hearts purified who see God and they alone are the ones who see God. What an incredible statement this becomes then. This is the answer to the question that's being asked by the population that Jesus confronts.
It's a powerful statement. The pure in heart and they alone shall see God. Now man tends, now I want you to listen to this, man tends to measure himself by his fellow man. In other words, you use another human criteria. It's like 2 Corinthians 11 where it talks about the false apostles who measure themselves by themselves. And we've talked about this haven't we? The Pharisees were good at that. In other words, whenever you desire to test your character or whenever you desire to test your morality or whenever you desire to test your ethics or whenever you desire to test how good a person you are, you always find somebody worse as the criteria.
Right? Think about it. Sure you do. You can always find an inferior human standard. And that's what the Pharisees would do. The Pharisee would come in and pray thus with himself, "I thank thee that I'm not as other men even as this publican, wretched man." See? His standard was lower than himself. Now do you know what that does? That means that the ultimate human standard is the most rotten person alive, because if everybody just keeps basing his own evaluation on one person lower, the whole thing spirals down till the ultimate standard is the most rotten person in the world.
But that's the way God set it. When God set a standard for acceptable character, He didn't say you have to be better than a publican. You have to be better than an immoral man. You have to be better than a liar and a thief and a cheat. You have to be better than one who isn't fair to those around him. He enacts injustice. You have to be better than somebody who beats his children. You have to better than a murderer. He said, if you want to see God, you have to be 100% what? Pure. And the standard is God and 1 Peter 1 says it, "Be ye holy as I am holy." And if you want it in terms of the Sermon on the Mount, you'll find it in Chapter 5 and verse 48, "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect." Now that's the standard.
Now men want to set the standard as the worst human being alive and God sets the standard as Himself, the absolute holy, righteous, and only God of the universe. Who's going to enter the kingdom? Who's going to heaven? Who's going to be saved? Who is fit to ever enter God's presence? Who will ever have a vision of God? Who will ever see God face to face? Who will ever enter into bliss? Who will ever know blessedness? Who will ever know true happiness? Only those who are pure in their hearts.
Now when I began to think about that, I thought boy that really hits them right where they were in their day because they were so concerned with externals weren't they. Boy the Pharisees used to get uptight if they didn't have certain washings of the hands and pots and pans and if they didn't go through all of this, you know. And the Lord says they were great at tithing for mint and cumin and anis. In other words, they'd make sure they gave ten percent of some little tiny herbal leaf. Well, they would pay no attention to love and truth and mercy and justice, you know. They were great at tearing off a tenth of a leaf and plunking it down.
It's all so superficial. Jesus said to them on the outside you are white and you look all wonderful, and inside you're full of dead men's bones. You're like a white-washed grave. You hypocrites. You hypocrites. Everything was external and the Lord just takes that whole cloak of hypocrisy and shreds it in one statement. Who will see God? Not the externalists, but those pure on the inside. See? They alone see God. Now you say if this is such a sunum bonumif this is such a high point, if this is such a key Beatitude, why does it come here on the list?
Well, can I say something right now? Every one of these Beatitudes is critical. You can't remove any of them. I mean, every one of them is critical and they flow in a beautiful, magnificent sequence in perfect order according to the mind of God. It isn't the matter that the first or the last or the middle is more important. They are equally important. They are all part of the same thing. They are all part of one great reality. You can't isolate the one from the whole. Beloved, I would say this to you, a king person is one who fulfills all of these things, you see. All of these things. You can't pick and choose. You can't say well, let's see there are so many of those. Let's see, I'll take...no, you can't do that. It's a flow of life. Once you've come to the point where it begins that are poor in spirit, the rest flows out in a wonderful outworking of the spirit of God.
Now you begin with the reality of being poor in spirit. And when you see yourself as a cowering beggar in a corner reaching out a hand that can only be given a gift, you have no power to earn anything. And as a cowering beggar ashamed to show your face, you reach out in tremendous sense of inadequacy. You reach out to God. That's where it begins and then in your reaching out as a beggar, your next response is to mourn over the sin that has put you in that position. And out of your total sense of sinfulness, you fall meek before an absolutely holy God. You couldn't be anything else but humble. And in your humility, all you can do is cry out and hunger and thirst for a righteousness which you can't attain and yet you've got to have. And you cry that God would give it. And then what happens, He gives you mercy and that's the next Beatitude and you become one of those who are merciful. And once you have been granted mercy and once God by His mercy has cleansed your heart because you hungered for His righteousness, then and then alone do you become pure in heart and only when you are pure in heart could you ever be a peacemaker.
You see there is a flow that cannot be isolated and once you become a peacemaker in the world, you're going to find the world will persecute you and lie about you and hate you and despise you, but that's all right, because verse 12 says you can rejoice, God's going to reward you. So one reason that this one is here is because it's the natural flow. Purity of heart comes after you've hungered and thirsted for righteousness and after God has dispensed His mercy to you. And it is His mercy that sweeps your heart clean. It is mercy that cleanses your evil heart. It's not something you earn. It's something He gives out of His mercy and in the clean heart that comes from His mercy as the purity that allows you to see God.
But there's another beautiful thought too as to why this one is here. The first seven Beatitudes all kind of fit in a beautiful way. The first three lead up to the fourth one and then the next three follow after. The fourth one which seems to be kind of the apex is to hunger and thirst after righteousness. You begin with a beggarly spirit and out of the beggarliness of your own spirit comes a mourning over sin and when you see yourself as a total sinner, you're humble and meek before God. And at that point, you cry out for righteousness and then God acts. And you find His mercy and you find purity of heart, and you find a gift of peacemaking so that those flow out of the fourth. The first three lead up to it, the last three flow out of it. But did you notice something that's even more kind of intricate. The first and...let's see if I can get this, the first and fifth, the second and sixth, and the third and the seventh seem to compare also.
For example, it is the poor in spirit who realized that they're nothing but beggars who are going to reach out in mercy to others right? Because as a beggar, you know that anything you have is a gift of mercy and you're going to tend to be merciful too. It is secondly those who mourn over their sin who are going to know the purity of heart, because unless you mourn over your sin, there's no cleansing of that sin. True repentance involves mourning and so the mourning seems to be connected in some sense with the purity at heart. And finally, it is the meek who are the peacemakers. I'll tell you one thing I learned a long time ago when I studied Philippians Chapter 2. Nobody and I mean nobody is ever a peacemaker who doesn't do so from the vantage point of humility.
So you see, it is the beggars who are merciful to others. It is the mourners who are the pure at heart, and it is the meek who are the peacemakers. So there's a beautiful way in which the weaving together of these Beatitudes shows how the mind of God works. So it is fit in the right place historically. It is fit in the right place chronologically. Now remember that among the crowd that day were the Pharisee legalists. And by the way, they're in every religious crowd. I mean, the world is full of them. They're going to heaven because of their human achievement. Well, I'm all right. I'm...well, the Lord certainly couldn't send me to hell. I don't kick cats. When my neighbor has a problem, I give him my shovel. I'm going to...I've never done...I've never killed anybody. I never ran out on my wife. I'm a pretty good father, I provide for my kids. They don't go around without clothes and we've done the best we can in this life. That's the religion of human achievement.
Then there are people, you know, who go down here to the Buddhist temple and they go in there and they burn their little thing. And they put their little dinner down there. And they're going to work their way up into whatever is up there, Nirvana. Think themselves into exquisite nothingness. They are all over the world. There's only two kinds of religion in the world, okay? Only two. People say oh there's so many religions. No, only two. Only two religions in the whole world. The religion of human achievement and it comes under every brand imaginable, but it's all the same. You earn your own way. And the religion of divine accomplishment and that says you can't do it. God did it in Christ and there's only one that says that and that's Christianity. Those are the only two religions in the world. The religion of human achievement and divine accomplishment. Take your pick. Human achievement comes under all kinds of labels, but it's all the same stuff. It's Satan's lie. And so in every crowd, you have the people who are going to make it on their own. They're going to earn their way to heaven. They're going to get there on their own energy, their own power, their own resources.
And they were in that crowd that day and the Lord Jesus Christ stripped them bear right off the bat. They were content with external ceremonialism. They were content with superficial works, righteousness, and systems that dealt only with the outside. And Jesus is saying to them, sorry folks you don't qualify to see God. You'll never be in my kingdom, because I'm after the pure in heart. I'm talking about the inside. You know, those people had no excuse. Psalm 51:6, and they must have known the Psalms. Psalm 51:6 said "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parks."
The Psalmist taught the same thing in Psalm 24, the very same reality in Psalm 24. The first five verses, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and they who dwell therein, for He founded it above the seas and established it upon the floods." It's all God's. And He's seeing God's kingdom in it's largest possible definition. And the he says, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?" Who gets to be in the kingdom? Who gets to go in? Who shall stand in His holy place? Who will see God? And the answer comes in verse 4, "He who hath clean hands and a," what, "pure heart who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of His salvation."
Who enters the kingdom? Who is saved? Who is righteous? Who's going to see God? Jesus just condenses Psalm 24 into this Beatitude. Those with a clean hands and the pure hearts are the ones who receive salvation. If they had recalled the words of the beloved prophet whom they extolled so wonderfully the prophet Isaiah, they would have known. It says in Isaiah 59:1, "Behold the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save." If you're not saved and you don't get salvation, it's not because God's arm can't reach you, it's not because His arm is too short and you're too far out. No, "but your iniquities have separated between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you that you will not hear for your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity and your lips have spoken lies. And your tongue has muttered perverseness and none seeks justice or pleads for truth. But you trust in vanity and you speak lies and you conceive mischief and you bring forth iniquity and you hatch snakes eggs and weave spiders' webs" and so forth.
And then verse 12, "For our transgressions are multiplied before thee and our sins testify against us says the prophet. For our transgressions are with us and as for our iniquities, we know them." In verse 16, "And he saw that there was no man and he wondered that there was no intercessor and therefore his arm brought salvation unto him and his righteousness sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate and a helmet of salvation on his head. And he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing and was clad with zeal as a cloak." And this is a picture of Christ. Christ looks around and He sees the people lost in sin. And just like the Jews of Jesus' time, they're crying out and they're saying is there no man, is there no intercessor and Christ comes and He puts on the garments of salvation and He moves. And it says in verse 20, "And the Redeemer shall come to Zion." See.
If they'd have known Isaiah 59, they would have known the answer to their own question. If they'd have known Ezekiel 36, they'd have known the Messiah was going to come and wash the inside of His people. It's always been the pure in heart, beloved, always. There's only three approaches to religion. There's the head religion, which trusts in a creed and a system. There is the hand religion that trusts in a good deed, but God says what I'm after is the heart religion, which is based on an implanted purity given by God.
1 Samuel 16:7, "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks," where, "on the heart." So many have missed this. Let me say it this way people, you'll never see God. You'll never be in God's kingdom. You'll never enter God's presence. You'll never have His forgiveness. You'll never know the Redeemer that comes out of Zion. You'll never know what it is to come and drink of the well of salvation. You will die frustrated in your sins unless your heart is pure. Unless your heart is pure.
But you know the wonder of it all? Is that that is exactly what Jesus Christ has come to do to purify your heart. Because when He died on the cross, you see, He took the sin that was accounted to you and He paid all the penalty for that sin. And the Bible says He then imputes His righteousness to you. It's a fantastic exchange. He takes your sin, gives you His righteousness so that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ and God looks at you, God sees you pure. And on no other condition does He see you that way.
Cates B. Padgett said it in these words, "So dear, so very dear to God dearer I could not be. For in the person of His son, I am as dear as He. So near, so very near to God, nearer I could not be, for in the person of His Son I am as near as He." It is because Christ took our place, bore our sins in His own body on the tree that His righteousness is given to us. And so by faith, God makes us pure. That was what His message was. And that was the context of it.
Now let's look specifically at a second question. And by the way we won't probably cover all these questions tonight. We'll just let the last two go. They were kind of extra thoughts anyway. Second question, what does it mean to be pure in heart? What does that really mean? And this is the key question. What does it mean to be pure in heart? First of all, let me just remind you the word heart is kardiafrom which we cardiac and all of that. Greek word for heart. But the heart as we note is the inside. The heart in the Bible is always seen as the inside part of man, the seat of his personality, his inner man. Predominantly, and I want you to note this, predominantly, it refers to thinking process. The heart is not specifically the emotions. We've taught you before that when the Bible wants to talk about emotions, it talks about the bowels of compassion. The feeling in the stomach, in the mid-section, it uses very different. Very different...in fact, sometimes it even talks about the liver as an organ of emotion, if you can imagine that.
And the reason they use those terms is because the Jew would express his feeling as in terms of what he felt in his stomach. You know, when he really loved, he felt it in his stomach. When he really hated, he felt it in his stomach. When he really had some emotion, it turned him in the stomach. And that's still true today. Our emotions affect our inside organs, but the mind and the heart were really together. "As a man thinketh in his," what, "heart." So the heart became the equivalent of the thinking process predominantly. But note this, sometimes the word heart does have reference to the will and the emotion as they spin off of the intellect.
As they spin off the intellect. For example, my mind does something, and if my mind is really committed to that something, it will affect my will, which will affect my emotion. The mind is like generating...the mind generates the will, which generates the emotion. The will is like a flywheel. The mind sets it going and once the flywheel's going it turns the emotions. And so what our Lord is speaking about here when He says the pure in heart is the inside. And He's first of all thinking of the mind which controls the will, which controls the responses of emotion.
And boy this was a shot at the Pharisees and the legalist who were telling everyone that all you needed to do was take care of the outside and that only the outside was the issue. And if you just bide by the externals and crank and out the external religious activity you're going to be all right and that is not the answer. Mark Chapter 7 is a good illustration of that if you want to follow it up. The heart refers to the inside. It's the place where everything happens inside of you in Hebrew thinking.
For example, a good verse to get your bearings on this is Proverbs 4:23. That pulls it altogether. Listen, I'll quote it, it's very short. "Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life." In other words, whatever the heart is, it is the source of the issues of life. The issues of thinking and feeling and acting all spawn out of this heart. Ephesians 6 talks about doing the will of God from the heart. Doing the will of God from the heart. It is the point at which everything is generated. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it." In Genesis 6:5 as God looks at the pre-flood civilization He says, "Every imagination of the thoughts of His heart was only," what, "evil continually." The heart is the thinking, the seat of behavior. From it come the issues of life.
In Matthew Chapter 15 in verse 19, I think it is, it says, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, and these are the things which defile a man." But to eat with unwashed hands that no big deal at all. You see? He was coming right at the Pharisees. You make such a big deal out of ceremonial washing and what God is concerned about is the heart. It's those things, verse 18 says, "that proceed out of the mouth that come from the heart that defile the man."
In James Chapter 4, in verse 8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners," that's the outside, "and purify your hearts." That's the inside. Well, there are so many other Scriptures, we won't take the time to look at them. God is after a changed heart. That's the real heart of the problem. Remember dear David, Psalm 51? What did he say? "Create in me a," what, "clean heart oh God." "Create in me a clean heart." The very source of his personhood, of his personality truly says Psalm 73:1, "God is good to Israel," ah, "but which in Israel to such as are of a clean heart." You see?
God has always been after the inside. People let me tell you something, I don't care if you go to church every day of the week. I don't care if you carry a Bible around and if you recite verses. If your heart is not clean, you haven't met God's standard. It doesn't matter how religious you are on the outside. Let me illustrate it by David and Saul. When God called Saul, Saul was kind of a mess, tall, dark, and handsome, but nothing else. And so it says in 1 Samuel 10:9 that "God gave Saul another heart." Isn't that great? Because God had to change him on the inside. So it says in 1 Samuel 10:9, "God gave Saul another heart." But you know what he began to do? He began to disobey God and he came to the place where he actually acted as priest and Samuel came to him and said Saul, the Lord says you're finished. You will have no kingly line. Why? Because God has sought a man after His own heart. You see?
Why? Why does God care about that? And the reply came in 1 Samuel 16:7, "Because man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart." Who was the man after God's own heart? Well, it was David. And God selected David because his heart was right. David said this in Psalm 9:1, "I will praise thee oh Lord with my whole heart." In Psalm 19:14, David said, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight oh Lord my strength and my Redeemer." In Psalm 26, verse 2, David cried out "Examine me oh Lord and prove me and test my heart." In Psalm 27 and verse 8, "When thou saidst seek ye my face," David says, "my heart said unto thee thy face Lord will I seek." You see it was a man who was ruled from his heart from the inside.
Psalm 28, verse 7 and I'm just dealing with the first part of the Psalms, he says, "The Lord is my strength and shield, my heart trusts in Him." There was a man after God's heart. David in his innermost being sought God. And you know what the sum of it all is? I love it. Psalm 57:7, don't ever forget, David cried this, "My heart is fixed oh God. My heart is fixed." Isn't that great? I'm locked in on You in my heart. That's the kind of worship God wants. There's a man who saw God. Oh he failed on the outside, but his heart was set toward God.
These people may not have failed on the outside, they may have cranked out all the ritual, but the heart was not toward God. Right? The second term in the phrase, pure in heart, is the word pure. What does that mean? Katharos, katharos, now you don't talk about purity in our world a whole lot and get real popular. People say purity is some flat insipid pedestrian rather vague, unattractive commodity that belongs to strange people in long robes who live in monasteries. What does it mean to be pure? The word katharos is a noun formed katharizo, which means to cleanse from filth and iniquity. It means to cleanse from filth. I mean, that's as simple as you need to know. In a moral sense, it means to be free from sin.
It is akin to the Latin word kastasand the Latin word kastas is the root of the English word chased. So there's a connection there. By the way, some of you deal in medicine, you know what a catharticis. A catharticis an agent used in medicine to cleanse a womb or to cleanse an area to make it pure. When somebody goes to a psychologist or a counselor and they have a catharsisthat's another use of the word, they have a soul cleansing. The word simply means to be cleansed. But it's interesting, there are two kind of shades of meaning and I want to just give them to you very quickly.
Shades of meaning, some suggest the idea that it means unmixed. But pure means in the sense of unalloyed or unadulterated or unmixed or sifted or cleansed of chaff if used of a wheat kind of a context or winnowed. In other words, to be pure means you have no add mixture of any foreign element. It's unalloyed, it's unadulterated, it's unmixed. And that what our Lord is really saying here is I'm after a heart that is unmixed in its devotion. That is unmixed in its motivation. Pure motives out of a pure heart. And so it might be the idea of spiritual integrity. It has to do with attitudes. It has to do with integrity and singleness of heart as opposed to duplicity and a double mindedness. You remember in Jeremiah 32:29 the word says, "And I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear me forever." In other words, God says I'm going to give them one heart and they're not going to be divided any more.
That's that single devotion, that single purpose. And in other words motive, motive, pure motive. And I think that's very important. I think our Lord really emphasizes that as we'll see later on in the Sermon on the Mount as He gets into Chapter 6 and verse 19-23. He says, "Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. The lamp of the body is the eye, if therefore, thine eye is healthy, the whole body shall be full of light. If thine eye be evil, they whole body shall be full of darkness." In other words, He's seeing here the reality of how you look at things, how view things will effect your whole life. If your motive is pure, then your life is pure. If your motive is corrupt, then your life is corrupt.
And so there needs to be a singleness of heart, a singleness of devotion, a singleness of motive and He sums it up in verse 24, "No man can serve," what, "two masters." There's that singleness that He is after. James talked about it, didn't he, in the 4thof James a couple of times in verse 4. "You adulterers and adulteresses, don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore is a friend of the world is the enemy of God. You can't have both." And so in verse 8 he says, "Cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded." So there is this sense beloved that God wants a pure motive.
And you want to know something? I believe if you're a Christian, it is normal for you to have that kind of motive. Well, I see the apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 7, and what did he want to do? Did he want to do what was right? He said "The things I want to do, I can't do. And the things I don't want to do, I do. Oh wretched man that is in me. Who shall deliver me from the body of this death." He says, "For the will is right. I long to do the law of God. I love the law of God. I desire the law of God, but sin that is in me corrupts me." In other words, he is saying I have pure motives, but I just can't override my sinful flesh.
So God is after those pure motives. And I believe if you're truly a Christian that that motive for purity is really there. And if you don't have that in your heart, I question whether you know God, because the only people who really see God, the only people who really know God are those who are pure in their hearts in the sense of a motive that is toward God. Whenever David sinned, it was because he corrupted his motives. He got his motives all mangled, but he would always go back to the same thing. You know when he cried out, "my heart is fixed oh God, my heart is fixed," do you know where he was? He was hiding out in the cave of Adullam. You know why he was hiding in the case of Adullam, because he had acted like an idiot when he was up there in Gath. And he was at Gath and he was in the Philistine country and he thought he Gathites, these Philistines, they're going to kill me. Oh I'm so afraid and he failed in his trust toward God and so he played like a mad man and he spit all over his beard and clawed the walls like he was nuts.
And he played like a mad man. They said we don't need any more nuts around, ship him out. And he's in the cave of Adullam and he says to himself, oh David, you were going to protect yourself, save your own hide instead of glorifying God, you played the idiot and it was written in Scripture so everybody throughout the rest of the world's going to know what a dumbbell you were. You dishonored God, you failed to glorify God, and then he stops and says from here on God my heart is fixed. "Oh Lord my heart is fixed." No more double-mindedness. How about you? Do you have that desire in your heart? Do you have pure motives?
The great John Bunyan who wrote the masterpiece Pilgrim's Progress and The Holy War and so many things, was once told by someone how great a preacher he was and that he had no doubt preached a masterpiece that day to which he sadly replied and I quote, "thank you, but the Devil already told me that as I was coming down the pulpit steps." Pure motive, but let me add something to that people. That's not enough. Pure motive isn't enough. The word katharos goes beyond motive. Don't stop there. Listen there are a lot of people with pure motives and they never come to God. Do you know that? There are people who walk on nails.
I was in Mexico City and I watched people at the Shrine of Guadalupe crawl on their knees for 150, 200, 300 yards until their knees were bleeding and they had to pull their clothes down. The ladies over their knees, and the blood was all over their garments. I watched them do it with babies on their backs. Very sincere, man, they really were trying to do it, but sincerely wrong. No doubt the worshipers of Baal had some sincerity in Elijah's day when they got out there with knives and started hacking themselves up. I'd say that's sincerity. You start cutting yourself up and you're meaning business.
There's more than in the word katharos. It isn't just a pure motive, it is a holy deed, you see. And they both have to be there. It is the purity that issues out of a pure motive. Thomas Watson said "morality can drown a man as fast as vice." He said, "A vessel may sink with gold or with dung." You can be, you know, think your motives are pure and you can say I'm a very religious person and want to please God, but if your deeds aren't according to His word and they don't reveal a purity, it doesn't matter.
So we're talking about motive, yes, but motive plus. Now let me conclude by giving you a final little thought or two. There are five kinds of purity. Now listen, because this will help you completely understand this. Five kinds of purity, are you ready for this? Five kinds, number one is what I call primitive purity. You say what is primitive purity? That's the kind of purity that exists only in God. It is as essential in God as light is to the sun as wet is to water. It is His primitive purity.
Second, there is what the Bible calls...well, it really doesn't call it this, but what the Bible presents as what you could call created purity. It is the creation of a pure being before the fall. God created angels in purity, created man in purity and then both fell. But it's created purity. So you have primitive purity, that which is true only of God. You have created purity, that which He grants out of His own purity to a being He creates.
Third, ultimate purity. Ultimate purity is a category of glorification. In other words, ultimately all the saints of God will be completely pure, right? Some day we're going to have all of our sin washed away. We're going to be cleansed, totally clean, we're going to dwell with God in His eternal heaven forever. At that point, experiencing ultimate purity. 1 John 3:2 tells us how it will be. "We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is."
Fourth is positional purity. Positional purity, and this is a tremendous reality. Positional purity is the purity that we have been given right now by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. When you believe in Jesus Christ, God imputes to you a positional kind of purity. In other words, your position in Christ grants to you purity. When God looks at John MacArthur, believe it or not, He says John MacArthur right, absolutely pure in Christ. The righteousness of Christ has been applied to him because he believed in Jesus Christ.
Romans 3 tells us "That the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us." Romans 5 tells us "That we have been justified because of what Christ has done." Galatians 2:16 tells us the same thing. 2 Corinthians 5:21, the same thing. Ephesians 5 says "That husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church and as He has cleansed the church and as He washed the church." And in 2 Corinthians Chapter 11, the apostle Paul that says that "The church is like a chased virgin." There is a positional purity.
Fifth, fifth, we see primitive purity, created purity, ultimate purity, positional purity, and finally practical purity. Now this is the hard part folks. Only God knows primitive purity. Only God can bestow created purity. Some day God will give every saint ultimate purity. Right now every believer has positional purity, but boy we have a lot of trouble with the practical kind don't we? Trying to live out what we are in position. And that's why the apostle Paul cries out in 2 Corinthians 7 and verse 1 that tremendous statement to all believers. And we must hear it, listen to what he says. "Dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting holiness and the fear of God." He's not talking about primitive, created, ultimate, or positional. That's God's business. What he's crying for is a practical living purity. And at best, it'll be gold mixed with some iron. At best, it'll be a white cloak with some black thread.
But God wants us to be as pure as we can be, practically before Him. Listen people, it's those people who are positionally pure in Jesus Christ who will see God, who will be in His kingdom. And those kinds of people will manifest it in a purity of life, in pure motives and in pure living. If that's not true in your life, then you're not a Christian or you're a Christian living in disobedience. We fail. Sure we fail. But the Bible tells us how to deal with failure. We're going to be tempted to be impure. We're going to be tempted to have impure thoughts, say impure words, do impure things. We're going to be tempted to have motives that aren't right that'll issue in words and deeds that aren't right. But the Bible tells us how to deal with temptation.
Read Ephesians 6, get your armor on. You say, but what if I fail? What if I fail? The Bible tells you how to deal with that. "If we confess our sins, He's faithful and still righteous to keep on cleansing us from all unrighteousness." It tells you how to deal with the temptation and the failure. And every time you face it and you repent and you deal with it and God cleanses it and you move on to a greater level of purity.
It's a tremendous thing to know that God makes us pure. There's just one other question you have to know. And it's this question. How can my heart be made pure? How can my heart be made pure? Some people say well, in order to really be pure you've got to go to a monastery up on a hill and get away from everything. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Monasticism, other people say no, what it really is is a second work of grace. After you've been saved a long time, you go to the second work of grace and by the way there are many who teach this and you get what's called eradication. And God by a divine act eradicates your sin nature and you'll never sin as long as you live.
Once I confronted a man who said he had that. He had the act of eradication, the second work of grace and he never sinned at all. And I asked him if he ever made any mistakes and he said, yes, but that's different. I don't think monasticism cuts it. I don't think perfectionism cuts it either. How do I find my heart made pure? I'm going to give you three points, get them. Number one, know you can't do it on your own. If you want a pure heart, know you can't do it on your own. There's no way, no way at all.
Proverbs 20, in verse 9 says, "Who can say I have made my heart clean? I am pure from my sin." Who can say that? The answer is nobody. You can't do that. Can a leopard changes his what, spots? Can an Ethiopian change his skin? Who can say I am clean? Nobody. Secondly, Acts 15:9 says, You can purify your hearts by faith. You can't do it by works. You can't do it by works, but you can do it by faith, by believing. Acts 15:9, "Purifying their hearts by faith," it says. Faith in what? Believing in what? In 1 John 1:7, and that's kind of the climax to the thought, for there it says "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin." Now do you get it? You can't do it by your works. It can be done by faith. Faith in what, in the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from sin. You want to be pure in heart? Accept the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Accept what He has already done.
Zechariah 13:1 says "It is fountain open for sin and uncleanness." You say John, I've already done that. I've already given my heart to Jesus Christ and I know I'm positionally pure and I know I'll be ultimately pure, but oh I have a terrible time with practical purity. How can I be practically pure? You know how? Stay right here people right in this book. Hear the words of Jesus. John 15:3, "Now are you clean through the," what, "word." "Now are you clean through the word."
And the second thing, if you're a Christian, stay in the word and pray. Pray and hear the words of Job who said who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean. And there was only one answer that echoes down through eternity. God can. So if you're asking initially how can I be clean, realize you can't do it. By works you can no purity by faith. Faith in what? The blood of Jesus Christ shed for you. If you've done that and you're a Christian and you're still fighting impurity in your life, look to the word and to prayer.
There's one other question I can't resist just mentioning. What is the promise attached to such purity? What happens if we're pure? Oh this is so great. The end of the verse, "they shall," what, "see God." This is a future indicative in Greek. A future continuous tense. Let me read you how it should go. "They shall be continually seeing God for themselves." It's middle voice reflexive. "They shall be continuously seeing God for themselves." You know what happens when your heart is purified of salvation? You live in the presence of God. You don't see God with a physical eye. You see Him with the spiritual eye.
You comprehend Him. You realize that He's there. You see Him. And like Moses who cried "Lord, show me thy glory." The one whose heart is purified by Jesus Christ sees again and again the glory of God. Hey listen, did you know that to see God was the greatest thing that a person in the Old Testament could dream of? Moses said, "show me thy glory." What a thought. Philip said that day to Jesus, "show us the Father." And that's sufficient. And beloved, when you are purified in your heart by Jesus Christ, you will see God. He'll be alive to you and you'll go on seeing Him. And as you mature, and the more pure you become, the greater the beatific vision becomes.
The more pure your heart, the more of God you see. What a great reality it is. Job said, oh, Chapter 42, "I heard of thee with the hearing of mine ear. But now I have seen thee with mine eye." And you know where he saw Him? He saw Him in trouble. And the Psalmist saw Him in creation. And others see Him in circumstances. And some see Him in the hearts of other people, but He's alive in His world. And you're not alive to that unless you've been purified in your heart.
Purity of heart cleanses the eyes of the soul so that God is visible. What a great thought. Do you want to see God? Do you want to have God alive in your world for now and forever? Then purify your heart. And there's an ultimate sense, because some day you'll see God with real eyes. 1 John 3:2, "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is in the form of Jesus Christ." Oh what a day it'll be. To see Christ face to face. F. F. Bullard wrote, "When I in righteousness at last, thy glorious face shall see. When all the weary night is passed and I awake with thee. To view the glories that abide, then and only then will I be satisfied." Let's pray.
Father, again tonight we have had our hearts enriched as we've shared in your word. Confirm it to us in the deepest part of our hearts that may issue in acts of will that please you. Make us pure oh God for Jesus' sake. If you're here tonight without Christ, you know your heart is impure. You know your transgressions separates you from God. But something inside says I want to know God. I want the purity of heart that'll free me to see the living God. I want the repentance and the forgiveness that can free me from the bondage of guilt. I want to know what it is to be pure. I want to know what it is to be forgiven. I want to know what it is to be out from under the burden of all the pain and the anguish and the frustration that my sin and guilt brought.
If that's your desire right now in your heart, why don't you just say, Lord Jesus, I believe that Your blood was shed for me and can cleanse my sin. I believe that You rose from the dead for me. I give you my life to be my Lord and my Savior. Can you pray that prayer? I hope so. I hope you'll give your life to Christ to know the purity that only He can give. If you're a Christian, and you know there have been things in your life that have been impure and you know what happens when you're impure? All of a sudden you can't see God anymore. He sort of fades away. He becomes fuzzy and foggy. The joy is gone, the vision of God is gone, emptiness takes the place of fullness. Sorrow takes the place of joy. Meaninglessness replaces purpose and you become miserable. Purify your heart tonight by confession and repentance.
Lord Jesus meet us right where we are and we'll thank You for doing that work in us that purifies us not just for your glory, but thank You gracious God so that we can go on seeing God for ourselves. What a fabulous and wonderful reward for purity. In Jesus' name. Amen.