Topic: Sunday Sermons Scripture: Matthew 5:8
Well, I know that many of you are here today with hearts that are burdened by different matters that are going on in your lives, some of these things have been going on for a long time, some of them dealing with things that are urgent and acute in their concern on your hearts. I'm very grateful to the Lord that he brought you here today for a text such as what we're going to see today because this is a text that will lift your eyes off of this earth and place it on the hope that belongs to us in Christ in a way that gives us really the encouragement we need, the incentive we need, the ambition that we need to be able to persevere through whatever this world brings us. Whatever happens on Tuesday, whatever happens later in the week, whatever may come, here we have in front of us today that which gives us our ultimate aspiration; that which would shape our life now and that which would point our eyes to what the ultimate goal is. It's so important for you to know and to remember and to understand if you're going to walk through the Christian life successfully with a measure of serenity and confidence, to realize what the ultimate goal is. The ultimate goal is not our country. The ultimate goal is not our earthly prosperity or even our earthly health or even our earthly families or our earthly loved ones. The ultimate goal is something so much greater than that and it is only when you come to Scripture that you can have that perspective implanted in your heart and let it become the guiding force in everything that you think, say and do. Nothing else will bring this to you. Nothing else but God's word can bring the perspective that is necessary to overcome this wicked world and this sorrowful valley through which we walk.
So I'm grateful to God that he's brought you here today for you to be able to see this afresh again today and I encourage you to bend your heart, as it were, to bend your will to God's word and let it shape you in what is about to come because in what we are going to see in a very brief verse out of Matthew 5, you are going to find that which gives your heart the aspiration that it needs to triumph over everything. It is an aspiration like this that enable martyrs to willingly and courageously shed their blood. It was an aspiration like this for which Christ died for your soul. We are going to see the ultimate outcome for which Christ went to the cross for his people. This is a text of great magnificence that we're about to see and it's found in Matthew 5:8. I invite you to turn there if you're not already there with us. Matthew 5:8 and may God sanctify this to the good and the encouragement of our souls as we consider it here this morning. Matthew 5:8,
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we can read through a Bible verse and kind of skim over it and miss in our daily readings the profound significance of what is embedded in just a few short words of Scripture. This text is one of the greatest aspirations, one of the greatest statements of the whole purpose of the Christian life gathered up into what we are like now and what the future of eternity will be for us. All of that is gathered up in these brief words from Christ our Lord and our Savior.
Now, for those of you maybe who are visiting or just have been with us a time or two over the past couple of months, we're studying the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' famous message from Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7, and the Sermon on the Mount opens up with a section called the Beatitudes which are found in verses 3 through 10. Beatitude meaning a blessing; Jesus pronounces blessing on people of a particular kind of character and this is the character that flows from someone who has been born into God's kingdom; someone that Christ has saved and brought under the realm of his grace and has transformed them and made them new. What does that produce? What does true salvation result in? Jesus explains this as he goes through this sermon.
Now, as we've opened and expounded these opening verses, we've dealt with some of the painful, you might say, Beatitudes; the painful Beatitudes of being poor in spirit, of mourning over sin, of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. The Beatitudes introduce us to a spiritual realm where we realize that we have not yet been made perfect as the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3. We enter into a realm where we realize that we fall short of the glory of God and yet he meets us in grace with wonderful promises that in Christ he's brought us into his kingdom, in Christ he will comfort us, in Christ we will be satisfied. Those Beatitudes force us to recognize sin and to mourn over our lack of merit and they bring us outside of ourselves that we would look at Christ alone, look at the Lamb slain on the cross whose blood was shed for sinners just like every one of you, no one outside the realm of the saving presentation of the Gospel; that anyone who would come to Christ forsaking sin and receiving him and trusting in his saving atoning blood shed on the cross would find complete salvation, a complete redemption that would result in the full forgiveness of your sins, reconcile you to God, and give you a hope to be with him in all of glory. That is the promise of the Gospel.
Now, as we move into this particular Beatitude in verse 8, Jesus is setting forth before us the goal of your spiritual life in that interim time between the moment of your salvation and the moment you enter into glory. He sets forth what your pure ambition is, the singular ambition of a Christian life, of the spiritual life. The nature of this ambition is stupendously searching, it's wonderfully marvelous to aspire after, and then it gives you a promise that is absolutely staggering in its significance. I would have you understand as we come to this verse today that we're dealing with no mere word of man, that we're dealing with the word of God, that we're dealing with the word of Christ, and I would have you set your expectations extraordinarily high for the significance of what we are about to see. You must wake up this morning as you hear God's word, you must open your ears, you must open your heart and hear what is being said here today because what this verse tells you – remember we opened with the recognition that many of you are going through really deep waters right now and we understand that, and you're trying to live a godly life in the midst of a lot of difficulties and obstacles that you're facing – what Christ says to us as his people in this passage is this: your efforts at godliness, your perseverance through the tears, through the struggles, through the discouragements, your perseverance, it is all very worthwhile. It is worth the effort to go through this life living for Christ because the outcome is so staggeringly wonderful.
Martyn Lloyd Jones, who really has written the definitive work on the Sermon on the Mount, says this and I'll gladly quote him over the next several months as we go through this; the church's debt to his work on the Sermon on the Mount is incalculable. Martyn Lloyd Jones says this about verse 8, he says, "Anyone who realizes even something of the meaning of these words can approach them only with a sense of awe and of complete inadequacy. Our best plan perhaps is just to try to grasp something of its central meaning and emphasis." This is so staggeringly great, he says, that it makes the best of expositors, of which he was and of which I am not, it makes the best of expositors feel their inadequacy as they start to unfold these words, and it gives us a sense of something so magnificent that it is just beyond the realm of human thought to be able to thoroughly be able to expound and so he says, "Let's just try to grasp something of its meaning, something of its significance because even a taste of what this verse contains is more than enough to elevate us into realms unknown." That's what we're going to try to do here today in our humble effort to look at this verse.
A little word of introduction here that I would have you understand: what we want to do in this message today is make a special effort to let Scripture interpret Scripture so we're going to go to a few different passages to help us see the full significance of what Jesus is saying. All of the word of God comes from God, it is a perfectly unified and consistent work and so that as we look at other passages, we let Scripture interpret it and help us to understand what Christ was saying in this great Beatitude. So with that, we're going to break this message down along three lines and the first thing that I want to show to you is the necessity of a pure heart. The necessity of a pure heart. We'll lay that out briefly and then we'll look at what it means to have a pure heart, and then we'll see what the great reward is for a pure heart. The necessity, the meaning and the reward of a pure heart. That's what we're going to look at this morning.
So, first of all, the necessity of a pure heart. What I want you to see is that a pure heart is necessary in the sense that Jesus here is once again making an absolutely exclusive statement. Only the kind of people that he is describing in this verse will ever see God: ever see God in glory, ever see God in a reconciled sense to him. He says, look at verse 8 with me again, he says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The sense of the original language in the Greek is: they and they alone. It is an extremely emphatic statement. They are the ones who will see God, everyone else will be lost in their sins; everyone else will face an eternity of destruction in the lake of fire; everyone else will be separated and feel the judgment and the fury and the wrath of God on their sinful rebellion against him. So the stakes are high here. The groups are exclusive. And as you hear what we're going to see from Jesus, what you need to see, you need to be asking yourself: am I in this group that has this one pure ambition? Is this what my heart is like? If it is, praise God because the promises that Christ makes to you which are unbreakable, that cannot be violated, the promises to you are lovely. For those of you who say, "My heart isn't like this. My heart does not have this kind of ambition." You need to realize that Christ is laying out to you what the stakes are and that to be in that position is to be in a place of great vulnerability before an omnipotent holy God. And so this matter of a pure heart is extremely, extremely vital. It's necessary.
Let's look at Psalm 24 just to kind of give us a little sense of perspective, a couple of passages that we want to look at, Psalm 24, on the necessity of a pure heart. You see, God does not suffer fools. God does not just willy-nilly receive people who have never given any thought to his holiness, never had any desire for his kingdom, and then when it comes time for people to go to heaven or go to hell say, "Yeah, you had no desire for me, that's okay, come on in." God does not work that way. You know, there are billions of people in the world that are assuming that he does, that they can die without having spent any regard for Christ, and that they can die and the Big Man Upstairs will welcome them into heaven. That is just not the case and Scripture makes that point again and again and again and Jesus is making that point as we look at his word here this morning.
Psalm 24:3, "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?" Who can be in the presence of God? Verse 4, "He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation." Jesus says, "If you want to see," Scripture says, "If you want to see God, you have to have a pure heart." There is no room for a heart that loves deception, that loves sin, that is indifferent to God, indifferent to his holiness, and pushes aside Christ and wants nothing to do with him. A person like that has no place in God's kingdom. You are not going to heaven and you are not right with God and you are in a place of great danger if that's you because Scripture says it so plainly.
And as I've said many times, I'm going to say it many many more times again, in the Sermon on the Mount, beloved, brothers and sisters in Christ, friends who are here that do not know Christ, when Jesus is teaching on the Sermon on the Mount, you must understand something really crucial: he is teaching for keeps; he means what he says; this is not a trifling matter. Jesus says this and he is sincere and he means it and he will enforce it on the day of judgment. So don't make the mistake of thinking, "Eh, do you know what? Christ is just like all of us and we don't really mean what we say." You know, politicians make promises and everybody knows there's no significance to them. We all understand that. People make vows in marriage and set them aside when the next great thing comes along in their life and we get that. We get that the word of man is practically meaningless. Understand that the word of Christ is not like that. The word of God cannot be broken. "Heaven and earth will pass away," Jesus says, "but my words will not pass away." Jesus is teaching for keeps. He's earnest. He's serious. Teaching about the most significant of eternal matters. So it's incumbent upon us to hear and listen what he says. He says only those who have a pure heart will enter into heaven.
Look at Hebrews 12 in the New Testament. Hebrews 12:14, the writer of Hebrews says, "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." Are you in the process of sanctification since you made a claim to Christ? True justification leads inexorably to true sanctification; that declaration of righteousness leads to a process by which you are increasingly conformed to the image of Christ. If you are not on the path of sanctification, there is no reason whatsoever to think that you have anything to do with the reality of being reconciled to God. That's what Scripture is saying to us this morning. You see, beloved, coming back to a really fundamental principle: God is holy. God is set apart and he is a God of infinite moral purity and righteousness and justice and as a result of that, only those who share in that holiness can be with him. To be foreign to that holiness, to be foreign of even a desire for that holiness is to say, "I'm not a part of this kingdom. I must still belong to the kingdom of the world which is the kingdom of Satan, which is the kingdom of destruction." Those are the only two choices. You see, and Jesus when he says, "Blessed are the pure in heart," is talking about what is the inner drive of your being? What is the motivation, the ambition, the desire of your heart? What is it?
Well, that leads us to our second point. We've seen that it's utterly necessary. Jesus is speaking in completely exclusive terms and so it becomes very important that if only people like this are going to be with God in the end and be able to see him, it is essential for us to know what that means. What does it mean when Jesus says, "those who are pure in heart"? Well, let me gladly step you back a little bit from some of the man-centered perspectives that you can accumulate, kind of like crud on a shelf, as you go through evangelical churches over the past few decades, and purity is simply reduced to a matter of sexual purity. When many people in the church think of purity, that's what they think and they think in that limited term; matters of sensual purity and everybody feels guilty because they're not measuring up to it and it's limited to that narrow focus just like everything else in culture drives us to sensual matters and now the church just joins in and makes us think about that narrow category when we think about purity. Well, let me say something: that's an element of what Jesus says but it's a sliver of it. That is not the main point that Jesus is making here at all. Jesus is talking about something far more expansive, far greater, far more significant than that one aspect of physical life and you must understand this because if you approach it thinking that that's all that Jesus is talking about, you're going to neglect the fullness of what he intends to be said to your heart here today, and to realize the vast authority that he asserts over your inner man. You must understand this, that what Jesus is talking about here in the pure in heart is something that is a comprehensive statement about who you are in your desires, your affections, your motivations and in your will, it's comprehensive of your entire approach to life in all of it's detail. So don't just think about the limited way that family oriented ministries teach you to think about this matter, we want to think biblically and to address it from this perspective that Jesus has. This phrase, "pure in heart," includes that narrow matter but it goes so far beyond it.
Let me explain. The idea of purity when you think about it, we use the word "purity" in the way that Jesus means it here as well. We can talk about pure water that is free from contaminants that is safe to drink. There is nothing mixed into that water that would prove to be harmful. Or you could talk about a metal that is free from impurities; talk about pure gold as opposed to that which has mixtures of foreign elements in it. So what Jesus is talking about here is not so much a sexual purity but rather he is talking about a heart that is unmixed in its devotion to him; that is not tainted by foreign elements of loving sin, loving the world in a way that would push him back to second place in your affections. Jesus is calling you to unmixed purity of devotion to him. And here's the thing, beloved: your unmixed, your pure desire, your simple purpose in life, must be to walk with the God of truth in his truth. That is the supreme ambition, that is the pure ambition to which Christ calls you, that you would want all of your life to come under his authority and be pleasing to him. That's the standard.
You say, "But if I think about that, that means everything's on the table." Exactly. You see, that's the point. "You mean my marriage is on the table in this when it talks about pure in heart?" Yeah, that's exactly what it says. "The way I deal with my children, the way that I deal with work, the way that I respond to God's word? All of that is on the table here?" Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Your unmixed desire must be to walk with the truth who is Christ under the authority of the word of God and let me help you see that from a few other Scriptures here today as we're talking right now about the meaning of a pure heart.
Look at Psalm 86 and as you're turning there to Psalm 86, what this theme does for us is it just really helps us see how careless we tend to be in our spiritual life. You know, we tolerate pockets of sin, we tolerate the fact that we have a foul mouth or we have different things going on in our hearts and we really don't care and we don't ever address it because it's just not that important to us. Well, what this passage of Scripture does is it opens up and Jesus says, "I'm teaching for keeps and that's not okay."
Psalm 86:11-12, David says as he writes this Psalm, "Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever." He says, "God, join my heart together. I pray that you would bring my heart together so it would have a pure unmixed devotion to you and with all of my heart, I'm going to look at every aspect of my life and I'm going to bow and give praise to you." It's an unmixed desire to live in a response of gratitude to God in every area of life.
Look over at 1 Corinthians 10, kind of flipping back and forth between the Old and New Testaments. 1 Corinthians 10 in verse 31, really in a wonderful way bringing this together for us to see what the meaning of a pure heart is. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." There is this comprehensive approach to life that recognizes, beloved, that recognizes that every moment of your being is intended to be a pursuit of the glory of God to live with him in a way that praises him, honors him, trusts him, obeys him, submits to him, in every area of life. Can there be anything more mundane than the acts of eating and drinking? Anything more that we take for granted in a country with our prosperity than being able to do this, to be able to eat and to drink? And yet Paul says, Paul goes to those most mundane elements and says, "This is where I want you to glorify God."
So we see that this is a comprehensive approach to life and that you don't discharge this duty by being in this room once a week on Sunday morning and then you just go on and you live life anyway that you want to with a complete disregard to God's word or the presence of Christ or any of those things. You see, Scripture presents this as a comprehensive approach to life, not something that you just check off a box on the first day of the week and so when Jesus talks about the man who is pure in heart, he's talking about this: he's referring to a man who is utterly sincere in the presence of God; a man who says, "There are no hidden pockets in my life, O God, that I would withhold from your authority or in which I would withhold my obedience. There is no part of my heart that I will withhold from giving you praise and honor. I won't resent you for the outworking of your providence in my life. I'll let go of the vain regrets of my past and I'm just going to gather all of this up and have a single-minded focus that gives you thanks, that honors you and gives you the praise that you deserve."
Let's look at it from a different perspective, a different way of approaching the same basic principle. This is a man who hates hypocrisy. This is a man who would not tolerate the idea of saying that he believed one thing and then living a completely different way. That hypocrisy is not pure. That is not honorable. It is to have a divided heart that says, "I'll put one face forward before men in this realm and I'll live differently privately." Or, "I'll be a chameleon, a spiritual chameleon." There are plenty of those to go around, those who simply adapt themselves to whatever environment they're in. They can be with sinners and want to become like them and just fit in with all of the foul-mouthed vulgarity, and yet the same person when he enters into the presence of worship with the saints, can pretend that he's like that and that that's what he loves. Understand that that hypocrisy of which I'm sure in a room of this size many of you are guilty of, understand that that is completely foreign, alien and hostile to what Jesus is talking about here. You see, there is no room for that double-minded man. James speaks about that, doesn't he, in James 1? He says, "Don't let a double-minded man think that he's going to receive any blessing from God."
So we step back with sympathy and yet with clarity I say to you: do you realize how desperately wicked your hypocrisy is? Do you realize how foreign it is to what Jesus speaks here, that you cannot be that way? The man who is pure in heart hates hypocrisy, he hates deceit. It's simple enough, right, in principle, but let's ask ourselves a question: who is really like that anyway? Proverbs 20:9 says, "Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin'?" This verse, this biblical topic, brings us into a realm that exposes to us our utter spiritual poverty. It brings us to the fact that even as believers, I can't claim perfection on this standard. The implied answer of that question from Proverbs is, "No one, no one is like this." And that's not okay because Jesus is teaching for keeps. He means what he says.
So this Beatitude sets an aspiration for us and yet simultaneously it brings us back to our poverty of spirit. What are we to say to these things? What's the meaning of the pure heart in the way that it works out? Well, for the unbeliever, for those of you that are not Christians and you know it, the Spirit of God is convicting you of it and you say, "Do you know what? I have no desire for these things but now I realize it's an issue," and the Spirit of God has put his finger on your heart and said, "You're the man, you're the woman." For you, what this exposes to you is that you need to be born again. You cannot make yourself like this in your unregenerate state. You must come to Christ to be saved. You must cry out to him and say, "I don't have. I have a filthy, dirty, hypocritical heart that is completely foreign to what you've said. Jesus, save me from my miserable condition." The wonderful promise of Christ is, he says "I'll gladly receive you. I will receive you and I will change you. Those of you who are weary and heavy-laden, come to me and I will give you rest." You need a new heart from God.
What about those of us that are Christians? We feel the sting of conviction as believers. We realize that there's a sense in which our affections are sometimes still divided. As Paul said in Romans 7, "I still recognize that there's a principle of evil within me." Your heart betrays you with doubt, with anger, with sin, with resentment, with retaliation, with lust. What would God's word say to you? Does that mean that none of us are pure in heart in the way of which Jesus speaks? Does it mean that we're all doomed to destruction? Will none of us ever get to see God? That's not what Jesus is saying here, not in the fullness of Scripture as we let Scripture interpret Scripture for us. You're here as a Christian and you realize, "Man, that's what I want but I fall short of it." What does that do? It casts you back on grace. It casts you back on the Gospel. It casts you back on the Christ whose blood cleanses you from all sin. It casts you back on the word of God and says find your path forward in that state here.
Look over at Psalm 51. We'll bring this to a full definition and understanding that will help you, I trust, as we again just try to grasp something of the central meaning of this Beatitude. Psalm 51:6, we just looked at it recently on our Tuesday night studies. David is confessing his own sin, great sin of murder and adultery, and as he's confessing things look at what he says in verse 6. Notice how he recognizes the standard of a pure unmixed heart and how he deals with his sin in light of that standard as one who belongs to the true God. Verse 6, "Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me." For you as a Christian realizing that you are still in the progress of sanctification, realizing that you are still in the battle with your flesh, what does it mean to be pure in heart? It starts here, it starts with this: you freely acknowledge your sin and you appeal to Christ for cleansing. 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins," it has the idea of an ongoing pattern of confession. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Beloved, watch this. Watch what I'm about to say. Pay heed to it and let God's word search your heart. In this life where our sanctification is still imperfect, even Paul said, "Not that I've already obtained it, but I press on toward the goal." For us, what does that mean? What does this "pure in heart" mean? Understand this: it's not describing an utter absence of sin but it's deeper than that, it's the refusal to harbor unconfessed sin. The pure in heart, the Christian who has a "pure in heart," is somebody who freely acknowledges his sin, goes to Christ confessing it repeatedly, asking for cleansing, seeking that purity, begging God to change him and sanctify him still more and not stubbornly clinging to his sin, his sinful ways, his sinful thoughts, his sinful attitudes, grudgingly holding onto bitterness and broken relationships and saying, "I'm not gonna deal with that. I refuse." The pure in heart says, "There is no aspect of my life that I withhold from God. There is no sin that I love more than him. There is no sin that I'm not willing to let go that I might be walking rightly with Christ."
So, beloved, what is your cherished sin? What is that which you grasp and you refuse to let go of? What is it that when people go there in a conversation and say, "Could I talk to you about that part of your life?" And they say, "No. I don't want to talk about that. That is off limits." That's not a pure heart. What is it when you're cherishing some portion of wickedness in your heart that makes you say, "Ah, I really don't want God's word," and it makes you cold and it increasingly makes you hard and indifferent and, frankly, it shows up as you just start to lose your faithfulness and let your faithfulness to God's people dissipate and you go out? It's never a surprise. It is easy to see in people who have been faithful to the church over a period of time and then they start drifting away, you don't have to know what it is, you know that something is going on in their heart that's sucking them away, that's making them hard, that's making them not want to be with the people of God. This is just the way it is. Your life tells the story about who you are inside and people think, it's really funny when you think about it, people think that they can avoid the confrontation, avoid the conviction, avoid being found out by staying away. Well, the act of staying away is simply an acknowledgment that there's a reason for you to stay away.
You see, we have to come to grips with these things. We have to stop being hypocrites. We have to stop being those who play games with these things. If you have sin in your life, beloved, deal with it. Deal with it. Come to Christ who came to save you, who graciously even now extends the offer, "I'll forgive all of your sins. It will all be forgotten. Just come and seek cleansing from me." Why would you reject an offer like that? You see, we get specific so that you would see the issues. It doesn't do me any good, does it? It doesn't do me any good to stand up here and just speak in general platitudes about the love and grace of God and go and be filled and be in peace and we leave in ten minutes. What's the point of that? What is the point of a game like that? We would be better off not opening God's word if we're going to just play in generalities and not let it confront our hearts where we live. Why would we do that? Why would we insult the Spirit of grace in such a way like that? Why would we do that as a church? The answer given, now the question becomes: why would you do that in your own personal private life? Why would you do that? On what basis would you justify that kind of hypocrisy before a holy God who knows all things, who knows the inner motions of your heart, as if you're tricking him with your evasion? This doesn't make any sense.
So what's the meaning of a "pure in heart"? The pure in heart, beloved, confess their sin and they trust Christ to cleanse them in their pursuit of righteousness. There is no hypocrisy. There is no corner of life that says, "This is off limits." We can't go there. It's a heart that says, "I want all of my life to glorify Christ and there's nothing I'm going to hold back." When you come truly to Christ, it is as if you're giving him a blank check. You sign the check, you say, "Here's the account to everything in my life, you fill it in like you want. You take out of the account of my life whatever you want." In the Christian life, we say, "God, there is nothing that I hold back from you." If you find yourself kind of wrapped up in the cords of sin, you immediately pray, "God, whatever it takes to make this right, that's what I'm going to do. Before you, I want to tell you that's what I'm going to do. I want this to be right, God, because the supreme desire of my heart is to hunger and thirst after righteousness and I will not be a hypocrite before you, I will not be a hypocrite before men." A "pure in heart" is the absence of hypocrisy. Maybe better stated: it is opposition to hypocrisy and you deal with it when you find it in your life, with that standard, not an impossible standard of holy perfection but a heart that is undivided in its devotion to Christ.
Where do you stand? Where do you stand? This is what life in the kingdom looks like. This is what it's like to be under King Jesus. "Lord, you are the supreme authority and the supreme affection of my life and I line myself up under that gladly." One writer says and I quote, "The true Christian is concerned with purity because he recognizes that the King is pure." Jesus comes to us, Jesus comes to you, with utterly unmixed motives. He comes to you and promises his blessing for everyone who comes to him. "I'm gentle and humble in heart. You'll find rest for your soul." He is completely unmixed. He is perfectly sincere as he makes that offer to everyone who hears. Understand that with a sincerity and a purity like that being presented to you, the only thing that you can respond with is a heart of equal purity and sincerity. No hypocrisy.
It's searching, isn't it? Humbling, isn't it? Is it worth it? Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Go back to Matthew 5:8. Is this worth it to aspire after being a person like that who would give your life solely to the glory of God in whatever realm he's given to you to live out and make that the platform upon which you manifest his glory? Is it worth it because there's a lot of self-denial and self-sacrifice and humbling that goes along with it? Is it worth it? Oh, my goodness, do we even need to ask that question? Is that even a question?
Look at verse 8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Look at it again, "Blessed are the pure in heart," those who are absent hypocrisy, blessed are they, they are privileged recipients of divine favor. Why? Because they'll see God. The word "see" here is used, again, the same way we do it in English. We use the word "see" in a couple of different ways. We talk about it in terms of physical sight, "I see you as I stand up here. I see your faces and you see mine." You can't help that. We see each other with physical vision but we also use the word "see" in another way as well. You're working on a math problem and you say, "Oh, I see the answer to this math problem." It's talking about a mental perception, a mental understanding. And so it's used even in English in both ways, you see a mountain, you see an answer to the math problem, and so it is with this promise to see God.
Put on your seat belts, strap in because this is glory that we're about to see. How do we see God? How is this blessing dispensed? Well, at a very basic level, at a very basic level when you're born into the kingdom of God, you see him with a spiritual perception. So, for example, you see creation in a new light. The heavens are telling of the glory of God and the expanse are declaring the work of his hands. You say, "I see it. I get it. I didn't see it before. How did I miss it? It's all right there." And you see it and you understand it. We have a hymn that says,
"Heaven above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green; Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen."
You say, "I see the world differently than I ever did before now that I've come to Christ. I see the hand of God where I saw the forces of evolution before. Now I see the creative work of God where before I saw a silly Big Bang. I see it differently. I see God where before there had been a veil over my eyes." That's kind of incidental to what Jesus is saying but it's part of it.
You see God in Scripture. We see God in Scripture. In John 5:39 Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me." The one who sees God in this way understands that the word is unfolding God to them; that in the word, Christ is revealed and in Christ we find God revealed in human flesh. We see him in Scripture. The light is on and suddenly God's word speaks with power to your inner man. Yeah, you see God in Scripture. That's one of the surest ways to test yourself to see if you're a Christian, does the word of God have power in your heart? Do you read it and say, "This is true. This is the word of God." Because that's what God plants in the hearts that truly know him, a recognition that the Bible is God's word. You see it. You're taught directly by the Holy Spirit to give that attitude and deference to his word.
That's part of it. Ah, but the ultimate fulfillment of this promise, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," the ultimate fulfillment of this promise: still to come. Still future to us. As we stand here today, as you sit there today, it's still future. It's yet to come in glory. And if I were given to dramatic things, I would tell us all to take our shoes off. I'm not doing that. But to take our shoes off because we're about to step into holy ground here. Oh, everything we've been saying is holy but this is holy in another realm, another dimension, as you're going to see.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." And ultimately what is this saying? Go to the Gospel of John. This is where the inadequacy of which Martyn Lloyd Jones spoke at the start comes to full bear. This is where we quiet and humble our hearts and say, "God, nothing else matters but this. God, we receive your word with reverence as we read it now," we say to ourselves. In John 17:24, Jesus is praying to the Father. John 17:24, "Father," Jesus says, "I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." Jesus says, "God, my prayer as I am about to go to the cross is that those that you have given me would one day see my glory in heaven with me." Somehow we are going to see the glory of Christ when we are there in heaven. This is a glory yet to come. We are going to see the unveiled glory of Christ when our faith becomes sight.
Look over at 1 John 3. Scripture speaks to this often. 1 John 3, after the book of Hebrews and Peter. 1 John 3:2. You see this is future tense. This is all yet to come for us who are in the kingdom of God, who belong to Christ. There is more yet to come. 1 John 3:2, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be." Notice the future tense. "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is."
One more, Revelation 22. The Bible ends in heaven on this note, Revelation 22:1, "he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Verse 3, "There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever." Oh beloved, do you see it with your mental perception and understanding? What Jesus is saying is that those who have been saved, those whose life manifests the reality of their salvation by an absence of hypocrisy, the outcome for us is a blessed vision of God. We will see him. We will see face-to-face with literal physical vision the face of Christ. We will see and adore the face of the one who gladly chose us, died for us, rose again. And we will see him in perfected love, in perfect glory, with the effects of sin removed and every hindrance banished. And in a purity of wonder, love and praise, we will look somehow onto God himself. We will see the face of Christ. We're going to see God! We're going to see the Creator who had no beginning. We're going to see the infinite God somehow, the immutable God, the one of perfect holiness, the one who made us, the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, the one that we love now by faith not by sight. One day, one day, one day, we're going to see him.
And you say, "What's that going to be like? To be in the presence of the glory of God with the effects of sin removed and being glorified in our state, to be able to see him? What's that going to be like? Tell me!" I have no idea. I have no idea what that's going to be like. How can the finite see the infinite? How can the creature look upon the Creator? What is like to be unhindered by sin, to have sin removed and to have perfect fellowship in the immediate presence of God? I have no idea what that's like. It is foreign to my earthly experience but there's enough here in Scripture to tell us that we are in a staggering realm. This is beyond earth.
And beloved, whatever it means for us to see him, it's going to be worth it. Everything in life that was a necessary prelude to that great moment is going to be worth it. This is a heavenly realm that is reserved for the children of God alone and if you are born again, if you truly know Christ, your heart is resonating with the truth of Scripture here and saying, "Yes, that is a great and exalted moment that I can't wait to have!" And if you say, "I don't see what the big deal is," this is evidence that you don't know Christ.
Beloved, when Christ comes, we will see him. When we see him, we'll be transformed somehow into his likeness. We will share his holiness in some manner of the perfection of his resurrected glory. If you are a Christian today, that is your final destiny. That's the outcome and it is spectacular! And somehow as we enter into eternity with him and we go through the endless ages, somehow it seems to me that we are just going to come to know more and more and more about the infinite glories of God. It's not going to be a moment that's spectacular and then everybody goes home. It's going to be a time of splendor that just gets deeper and broader and better as we get to know this infinite God in his immediate presence better and better and he unveils more of himself. Some theologians think that we'll find attributes of God in heaven that he didn't reveal in Scripture and given the infinite nature of who he is, that makes perfect sense that there would be an unfolding of who he is that we enjoy and glorify and marvel at throughout all of eternity and it never gets old because it's just always increasingly wonderful and somehow new. That's going to be home for us. We're going to be in the presence of God and the presence of Christ.
Do you know what you should take away from that, Christian? That your struggle which is real, which is sad at times, which is heavy and makes you groan, this Beatitude tells you that that struggle to live without hypocrisy in the midst of that, that struggle is worth it because the outcome is great. There is no possibility whatsoever that we will be disappointed when we see Christ and the heartache of today will be forgotten and swallowed up in victory, in wonder, love and praise. You see, it's worth it to live for him. It is worth it to set your desire on him.
Let's look at one last passage. Turn over to 2 Corinthians 5. It is worth it for you to get alone today and to spend some time in confession with Christ and say, "I've lost sight. I've lost perspective. I confess my sin before you. I turn away from it. I want to be renewed. How did I miss this? How did I get off track?"
2 Corinthians 5:5, Paul says, "Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord - for we walk by faith, not by sight - we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." Verse 9, "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." The pure in heart are those who have their one ambition, "I want to be pleasing to Christ." And that filters through, that permeates like food coloring in a glass of water, it flavors everything, it pictures everything about your life that single ambition, that one desire, to be pure, to be sincere, to follow Christ. And what happens? An unspeakably great reward.
Let's bow together in prayer.
My friend, will you be there when the rest of us see Christ? Oh, we want you there. Christ invites you there. Why would you miss such a great outcome? God has provided for your salvation in Christ, a blood atonement for sinners just like you and he invites you to repent, to lay your rebellion down and say, "Yes, Lord, I receive you and the unfeigned nature of my heart now today, I receive you and ask you to save me." Won't you come to Christ and join in the ultimate outcome of this great hallelujah chorus which will be blessing beyond measure? Don't miss it, my friend.
Father, take your word, seal it to our hearts, encourage those who came today needing encouragement, convict and bring to confession those who have strayed and your word has made that plain to them. Make us individually people without hypocrisy, without ulterior motives, without deception and manipulation worked through our being. Help us to be those people of pure heart of which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.