“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
The word “pure” means clean, without defilement, without contamination, like fresh clean water which contains no pollution. The word “heart” is speaking of the inner man. One might ask why Jesus doesn’t speak of having “clean hands” or outwardly clean morality, but speaks of the heart being clean. Jesus does speak of the need of our outward actions being clean elsewhere, but when He speaks of the heart being pure He also teaches us, perhaps not directly but indirectly, that the outward actions will also be clean, for anyone who has a pure heart must have clean outward actions. If one doesn’t have clean outward actions it is a sign that his heart is not pure.
What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? It means at least two things. First, it means that Christians have an inward purity of thought or desire. It is not enough to keep our outward actions “clean” if our hearts are full of sin and hypocrisy. It is not enough to not murder our brother (though we most certainly should not) but we must also keep our hearts free from hate (1 John 3:15) and anger (Matthew 5:22) because this is murder of the heart. Isaiah says for the wicked man to forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts (55:7). Jesus says for our righteousness to go beyond the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). Many of the Pharisees outwardly kept themselves “clean” (at least to their standards) but inwardly they were wicked men. Jesus says that Christians will have, not only outward actions that are clean, but hearts that are pure.
Secondly, to be pure in heart is to whole heartedly follow the Lord. James 4:8 says, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.” This mentions both outward and inward cleansing (hands and hearts) but also the way we follow the Lord. “Double minded” is one with a divided mind, or a divided heart. This person could be described as one who partly serves the Lord and partly serves his fleshly desires. Lot’s wife could be described as one with a divided mind or heart (Genesis 19:26, Luke 17:32), not fully following the Lord. Jesus says Christians will follow Him with all their hearts, not just part of them. The double minded are to purify their hearts, purify their hearts from all other competing desires and serve the Lord alone. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). From experience we know that when our hearts are pulled away to an idol, we simply cannot love and serve God like we ought. Our hearts must be pure in our devotion to Him.
With this being said, we need to know the difference between being tempted to sin and giving in to that temptation. Being tempted to sin is part of the Christian life. Peter tells Christians, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Christians are tempted to sin. Peter tells us that these evil desires will war against our souls. The temptations can be great and the battle within us real. However, we must remember that there is a huge difference between temptation and giving in to that temptation. Satan may tell you that because you are being tempted to do and think evil things that this proves your heart is not pure. But Christians need to know that they can have evil desires within them. What is one way to tell if your heart is pure then? Not by if you are tempted to sin, but by if you habitually give into those temptations.
Those who have pure hearts will “see God.” What a blessing this is! To be with God for all eternity. To be in His presence forever. What blessing can compare? You should desire this day to come, and if you desire to be with Him on that day, should you not desire to be with Him in your everyday life?
Is your heart pure? Has your inward thoughts and desires been purified? I am not speaking of perfection, but there has been a change. Do you seek to follow the Lord with all your heart? And do you desire to be with Him, not only on that great day, but from day to day? The pure in heart do, and only they shall see God.