Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

Day 10: “Purity of Heart” Part Three 08.14.18

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

There is a great scene in the old movie “A Man for All Seasons.” Sir Thomas More has been prosecuted for crimes against King Henry the Eighth. He is accused of disloyalty to the monarch and he replies passionately: “Not true! May I never see God in the face if I have done this!” In expressing that desire, to see God in the face, More spoke as many did repeatedly through past ages. It was often a way of expressing one’s desire to literally be in the presence of God. The Psalmist said the same thing.

Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 11:7 (NIV)  For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.

Psalm 105:4 (NIV)  Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

Some may say these are just word pictures. Metaphors in which “face” means closeness to God. But I suspect otherwise. Indeed, even the disciples said to Jesus that they were eager to see the Father. Recall this great passage:

John 14:8-10 (NIV) 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”

Of course, our Lord was saying that believers for now can see the face of the Father only by closeness to Him through the Savior. But the interesting part was their request. They wanted to see God the Father. Why?

Consider this. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden when they were corrupted by sin. How did they express their shock and horror? They were not shocked by having to leave paradise but by realizing that they will no longer have direct fellowship with God. Prior to that, they could look upon God and be fully satisfied by His Divine Holiness and face. Ever since our expulsion from the garden, we have longed to see God face to face and up close. So, Jesus made a promise:

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

At this point, we should simply ask what Jesus meant by “pure in heart.” Clean! We know the Word of God tells us that in our natural state our hearts are corrupted. The least flattering description of the human heart can be found in the Prophet Jeremiah. We read:

Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

That’s the very bad news. Our hearts are deceitful and impure by nature. We always put ourselves first and naturally watch out for number one! Here’s the Good News: our hearts can be changed! Our hearts can be made Christlike! Those who know God and draw near to Him are being made new slowly but surely. We read:

Ezekiel 11:19 (NIV) I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

For Jesus, the heart was the repository of the inner spirit. Thus, all the activities of the heart are considered by God to be real activities not just thoughts. This is why Jesus calls the man lusting after his neighbor’s wife an adulterer even if he never literally approaches her. It is the heart not the actions that Jesus wants to transform.

Over the years, we have sung a praise song that goes “Change my heart Oh God! Make it ever true!” A simple but elegant thought. A heart that is corrupted is a heart that defiles the person. Thus, Jesus said:

Matthew 15:19-20 (NIV) 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'”

Let’s face it. We are desperate without confessing our sins and clinging to Christ. We can modify our behaviors but not our hearts. Only he can do that. Only he can purify these hearts. Actually, it is frightening. I have known so many people who insist they are Christians, but their hearts are hardened. Filled with pride and unforgiveness. Weep for God’s heart.

Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, prayed “Let my heart break with the things that break the heart of God.” I want to say that prayer.

Peace. Pastor Alberta

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

  1. Mary Henriksen

    I so appreciate your blog, Pastor Alberta. No one makes me think as deeply nor search my heart like you do. Thank you.

  2. Donna Rae Alberta

    You have, as always, a great ability to draw on examples from literature & film & history to make your points so well. Good job honey! ❤️

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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