And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, 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 which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed [are] they which 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 exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.Matt. 5:1-12
Source of Purity
With this week’s focus on blessed are the pure in heart, there is often a feeling among people for the need to be somewhat self-reliant in this quest to become pure in heart. Many a person has attempted a valiant attempt to become pure in oneself all on his/her own account. This can result in doing things like mentally preparing a list of do’s and don’ts in an effort to somehow achieve this sense of perceived purity. With this, any self achievement then tends to become the proverbial pat on your back moment for people as they pride themselves in their quest to become pure in heart.
But this practice is similar to what Paul described when individuals were intent on this self effort quest. He likened it to making something of a rule book of ordinances as they were called back then, “…Touch not; taste not; handle not.” [Col. 2:21] As Paul continued a few verses later on this subject he called this self effort a form of will worship ([Col. 2:23]. While there is perhaps a measure of merit in practicing this quest of self improvement, it is important to first come to the realization that becoming pure in heart starts with God and God alone.
The purity of God was notably referenced by Job during his many lamentations and sufferings, “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?” [Job 4:17] The foundation of purity is therefore derived from and originates with God and not by ourselves, despite our best efforts. The pureness of God is also expressed in his wisdom as noted in this scripture, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” [Jam. 3:17] King David also wrote of the purity that comes from God while he scripted many memorable Psalms, “The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes.” [Ps. 19:8]
Purity from Above
The question then needs to be asked, how does one obtain this purity from God and how does it differ from our own efforts? As noted above, while some degree of self effort may have temporal effects, there is a better and more enduring way that brings eternal purity from God. This is by experiencing new life in Christ or as the scriptures describe it, new birth in Christ and we will now explore this theme in depth from the Bible due to its importance in becoming a new person.
John the Baptist once responded to inquiring Jews on the subject of purification in reference to the baptism of Jesus, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” [John 3:27] It is from God where true purity comes from and it may come as a surprise to some that it comes from the new birth. Jesus spoke about the new birth to a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3] Take careful note how Jesus relates being born again with seeing the kingdom of God. Similarly, the pure in heart from this week’s beatitude equates the second part of the passage also to seeing God.
The purity from God must truly come from the spiritual new birth through belief in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. Paul identified this remarkable transition of new life in Christ to the early believers in the church, “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” [2 Cor. 5:17] The new creature, or new person, deserves special highlighting here. The apostle John also wrote of this, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” [1 John 3:9] The regenerated spirit of a born again believer in Christ cannot sin but this side of heaven believers are unfortunately still burdened with the fleshly nature and indwelling sin should they willingly choose to pursue it. Sin is a precarious influence in life as the scriptures say, “…sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire.” [Gen. 4:7b]
Returning now back to Paul’s letters, note how he also wrote of this spiritual change that takes place when people come to saving faith in Christ, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” [Gal. 2:20] This is truly where the message of being blessed is that the pure in heart becomes real and lasting in one’s life. It is Christ who is living within believers and it is Christ who is fulfilling this purity in a person’s life.
This purity of God works through believers by faith as shared in this scripture, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” [1 Pet. 1:22-23] Indeed, blessed are the pure in heart who now have the incorruptible Christ dwelling in them! This is why Paul exclaimed to early believers in his letters over the fact that it, “…is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” [Col. 1:27b]
Purity in Rebirth
Paul also wrote about this premise to believers in Christ giving more guidance on living life in the Lord Jesus Christ, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” [Eph. 4:23-24] It is this inner spiritual rebirth where purity then manifests itself through outward motives in our life, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” [1 John 3:2-3] It is Christ who now empowers us through his spirit to live a pure and holy life in him.
This outworking of the indwelling Holy Spirit is also illustrated in another passage of scripture further helping to illustrate the many gifts from the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” [Gal. 5:22-25] This description of walking in the Spirit comes from living in the Spirit but it must all be preceded through the regeneration of spirit in Christ from his atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Purity in You
The working of God’s Spirit through believers is essential to the Christian faith as Paul further emphasizes, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith.” [Col. 2:6-7a] For this reason, Paul wrote a most unique phrase about purity that permeates a believer’s whole being, “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” [1 Tim. 3:9] Collectively, these passages help to support the purity of living a life in the Spirit, abiding in him, listening to his guidance and obeying his commands.
As Christians follow God’s path of righteousness, Paul further elaborates on this but notes the source where things originate out of a pure heart, “…follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” [2 Tim. 2:22b] Paul also adds how love and charity form part of this purity in Christ in fulfillment of spiritual life in him, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned.” [1 Tim. 1:5] This now concludes insight on the first part of the verse for blessed are the pure in heart!
The second part of this blessed phrase, “…for they shall see God”, has proved rather enigmatic throughout scripture. It is not the purpose of this Bible Study to prove or disprove whether people have actually seen God face to face, but rather to present some notable events from scripture that will highlight the very notion of seeing an invisible God!
The first recorded interactions between God and man are found in the first three chapters of scripture, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” [Gen. 3:8] It is indicated here that they heard God’s voice and hid from his presence but not necessarily God’s physical presence. This would tend to hold true since Jesus stated in the New Testament, “God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.” [John 4:24]
In the book of Exodus, several interactions like the one above are recorded with one noted here to serve as an example, “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and [there was] under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in [his] clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.” [Ex.24:9-11] This would certainly give the implication that these men indeed saw the Lord God with their own eyes but let’s explore this a bit further in scripture.
On another occurrence there is more direct communication from God in reference to seeing his face, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, [there is] a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” [Ex. 33:20-23] What is notable about this verse are the physical attributes of God, i.e. face, hand, back, which harmonizes with this verse, “So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” [Gen. 1:27]
God Before Us
In the New Testament, there are several indications from various individuals in reference to seeing God such as the one described by Jesus, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” [John 6:46] This was actually in reference to Jesus and he also answered an inquiring disciple based on the same premise and rationale, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” [John 14:9b] To briefly digress, scripture portrays this oneness of the Lord God in many verses like, “I and [my] Father are one.” [John 10:30] and “I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me.” [Is. 45:5] We will explore the oneness of the Lord God in many upcoming Bible studies.
Returning back now to the notion of seeing God, the apostle John perhaps declared a different perspective to many passages already noted in both John 1:18 and in this passage, “No man hath seen God at any time.” [1 John 4:12] The apostle Paul highlighted the invisible nature of God in that if he is invisible then he remains unseen by people, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, [be] honour and glory for ever and ever.” [1 Tim. 1:17] Not surprisingly, Paul noted this same attribute about Jesus, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” [Col. 1:15]
In further support of the invisible nature of God, Paul references this further in his writings about the future presence of the Lord, “That thou keep [this] commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, [who is] the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see.” [1 Tim. 6:14-16a] So, this does indeed make one wonder how they will visibly see God whether from past, present or future passages of scripture if he is invisible, but wait there’s more.
Perhaps, one last notable verse is provided here since being pure in heart is indeed related in scripture to seeing God. This is written in reference to godly living but it does tend to highlight how holiness or purity is a condition of seeing the Lord, “Follow peace with all [men,] and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” [Heb. 12:14] Finally on this subject, with the eventual second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, his visible presence is indeed documented in future prophecy, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him.” [Rev. 1:7] That will indeed be a momentous experience for the blessed are the pure in heart upon the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To close off this study a tremendous amount of scriptural references were provided to give better understanding and knowledge on the purity and visible nature of God. One of the objectives is to share an abundance of scripture with readers since therein lies the truth. This study alone likely provided more scripture than the average person may see in an entire lifetime! This is the equipping of the saints with, “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [Eph. 6:17]
As readers contemplate blessed are the pure in heart and seek the purity of God by desiring to be in his holy presence, there is an encouraging message from Paul on purity to conclude with from this passage of scripture, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.” [Phil. 4:8] The word purity is prevalent throughout scripture and for good reason. God is seeking purity of heart from seekers of faith and by coming to him and believing in Christ, purity can be yours today through the imputed righteousness of Christ upon you (2 Cor. 5:21). Why not make that decision today?
Bible Study Questions
- In this study on Blessed are the Pure in Heart, can we truly become pure within without God in our life?
- Why do you think so many people feel they can become pure on their own merit and self effort?
- True or false, a person can become pure just by following certain commandments from the Bible?
- How would you explain to someone the need to become born again in order to receive God’s pure spirit in them?
- Can you find the verse that says God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth?
- What did Jesus mean when he said, …he that hath seen me hath seen the Father?
- Can you think of some ways where the purity of God could become more present in your daily walk of faith?
WORD GUIDE – * (intreated – to ask earnestly) * (born again – literally means born from above) * (unfeigned – sincere, genuine) * (elder – a leader or senior figure)