“Sight of God for the Pure in Heart”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.8
Matthew 5. Christian ministers haven’t been known for being squeaky clean recently as they have been in centuries previous. Jim Bakker…adultery, Robert Tilton…fraud, Billy James Hargis…adultery and homosexuality, Jimmy Swaggert … adultery, and we could go on. And Christian musicians aren’t exactly known for that either. Tim Lambesis was the frontman and leader of a Christian metal band called “As I Lay Dying”… until he was arrested for trying to hire a hit man to kill his wife.
George Perdikis headed up the band Newsboys. After he left the band, the band played for the movie God is Not Dead, a Christian movie and apologetic against atheism. Ironically, George Perdikis has come out as an atheist.
Shannon Low, lead singer for The Order Of Elijah, a Christian deathcore band, shocked his fans by announcing he is now an atheist.
Multiple Dove award winner Michael English. He committed adultery, divorce, drug addiction, and remarriage and then returned to pop Christian music.
Sandi Patty, 39 Dove Award winner: adultery, divorce, remarriage.
Surely those are just cherry-picked examples, right? Well, listen to a secretly atheist female backup singer for a popular Christian contemporary recording artist.
She writes, ‘The culture around Jesus music is even more messed up then you’d think.
For example, there’s such a thing as “Christian sexy” [a] the general look required by everyone hired to work onstage with a CCM singer/band. There’s a quality to someone’s face that classifies them as “probably Christian” (typically pale perfectly clear skin, wide eyes, button noses, stick figured) without being [lusty]. Basically the goal is to have a really pretty face that any guy would want to be with you, but innocent-looking enough that nobody can accuse you of flirting.
It’s baloney. When I was hired, everyone got drunk and the casting director told me the reason I made it to final callbacks was because I had the “good girl look” and was “Christian sexy”. Meaning the Christian men dragged to the concert [by their wives] wanted to be with me and their Christian wives weren’t threatened by me.
She continues, ‘On Top 40 Christian Radio, typically 37/40 songs will be recorded by male artists. Why? Evangelical women listen to radio, and a lot of them are lonely, and it’s all wish-fulfillment. I talked to the artist I’m singing backup for, and asked him why his latest record has so many love songs with the occasional “because of His Grace” or “Take You to Church” thrown in. He said flat-out “because I needed a hit”. He’s as jaded as I am, though he still believes in God. His last record was introspective, dark conversations with Jesus, and the label told him it was too deep for radio. So he wrote a bunch of sappy [songs] and the crowd praises the Lord and sings along desperately to his love songs.
I sit on a stool in the back and sing thirds and laugh at them. These women aren’t at his concert because they’re devoted to God. They’re at his concert because they have a crush on the artist. … It’s no different than pop culture, but it claims a holier-than-thou attitude that defines hypocrisy and makes millions.
Those who make a claim to being religious seem to be the most likely to be hypocritical. It is that way for those who market Christianity, whether preacher or pop Christian musicians.
But Jesus demands the exact opposite when He says Matt. 5:8…
Matthew 5:8 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Those who make a claim to being religious seem to be the most likely to be hypocritical.
It was that way for the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. They had developed a legalistic system of earning favor with God based on what they were doing on the outside of their hearts. They were unable to keep the law of Moses and so they developed new laws to place on top of God’s laws and when they obeyed their own new laws, they would feel like they were keeping God’s laws.
But Jesus says …
Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.
They look good on the outside, but on the inside are dead man’s bones.
Those who make a claim to being religious seem to be the most likely to be hypocritical. But is that really the case?
In reality, every sinner who ever lived is a hypocrite. One psychologist even admitted, “Human nature is intrinsically conflictual [meaning … human nature is constantly in a state of conflict]. [Our human nature] intrinsically causes us to maintain contradictions in our head and then in our behaviour.” What he is saying? Humans are by their very nature hypocrites! There is constantly a contradiction between what is in our head and what is in our behaviour. News flash: A secular psychologist discovers what the Bible has been saying for millennia.
17th century Puritan, Obadiah Sedgwick, identified three sorts of hypocrisy in his book The Anatomy of Secret Sins (pg. 20-21):
The first is what he calls Natural hypocrisy. He writes, “This hypocrisy has footing in every man. Even the most upright heart has in it some hypocrisy, and he sometimes seems to be that which he is not; he may be sometimes more full in his profession than he is indeed in his actions.”
I would say that this would include giving the appearance of being good or of doing good more than is true of you. For example, acting more joyful than you really are. Or simply falsely claiming something good.
Sedgwick continues with his second category called … Foul and Gross. This is when a man’s heart is not at all what it seems to be to the world. These are as the Pharisees of old, of whom Christ compared to white-washed tombs. “This is when a man shall profess he loves God and Christ and His ways, and yet secretly condemns and hates holiness and resists the motions of God’s Spirit, and is at defiance with all the heavenly rules of life and powerful obedience.”
These are they who say “do as I say, not as I do.”
Jesus said…Matthew 23:2–3 2: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
This would be saying that you hate gossip but spreading it yourself.
Sedgwick’s final category … Formal hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is when a man not only deceives others but deceives his own heart as well. Such a pride may come in part from a man confusing grace in [outward] performance with grace in [inward] character. He is even afforded a bit of happiness but at the same time he [hoards away] “some sweet morsel under his tongue with which he will not part.”
This is the lady who blames others when she sees her own faults in others; or the man who in reality, sees his sin in someone else, and despises them for it. The drunkard who won’t admit being a drunkard, and then hates all drunkards. That’s like saying, “one who lives in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones.” If you have the same sins as someone else, you shouldn’t criticize them. You’re just throwing stones in your own glass house, condemning yourself. But you don’t listen to your own criticism because you’ve reached Sedgwick’s third stage of hypocrisy.
But Jesus demands purity of heart. Matthew 5:8 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they [alone] shall see God.
Pronouncement: Blessed are the pure in heart.
Jesus demands purity of heart, which seems impossible because Matthew 15:19 tells us that we have no heart purity.
Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
So what is Jesus talking about? Well, the word heart is the spiritual part of you by which you think, feel, and make decisions. In a sense, it’s the real “you” inside your body.
The word pure in the Scripture often refers to something that is undiluted, or unmixed. For example pure gold has no deformities mixed in with it… it is undiluted. Pure wine or milk is undiluted with water.
What is a pure heart? Well, Jesus is clearly not speaking about sinless perfection. Who can say that he never sins in his heart?
Clearly Jesus is not speaking simply to sexual purity, important as that is. Jesus is also not referring to being pure in your heart toward God as contrasted with being dirty on the outside: purity of heart vs. purity of body. Blessed are the pure in heart, not the pure of body. That’s not what Jesus is saying.
Jesus is also not simply talking about purity of heart vs. ceremonial purity, although that is in the Bible. In other words, be pure in your heart, not simply washing your hands and clothes in order to be ceremonially pure under the Old Covenant. That is not primarily what Jesus is referring to.
EXP: Remember the context. These Beatitudes are not just randomly put together. The first four Beatitudes in verses 3-6 make up the conditions for citizenship in Christ’s kingdom. The next four Beatitudes in verses 7-10 make up the evidences of citizenship in Christ’s kingdom.
The root of the first four Beatitudes form the fruit of the last four. The first four are our relationship to God. The last four are our relationship to man.
In the context of the fruit, the evidences of true Christ kingdom citizenship, the relationship-to-man beatitudes, we see the merciful, v. 7. Verse 9, the peacemakers, and v. 10, those persecuted. That all refers to one’s relationship to other humans.
Therefore, verse 8 is also referring to one’s relationship to others.
So how could purity of heart refer to our relationship to others? Let me get you to turn over the Psalm 24. Psalm 24. It is very likely that Jesus is referring to this very Psalm. And what we will see here in Psalm 24 is that a “pure heart” is in the context of someone who is not a hypocrite.
Psalm 24:3, who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? This is language that, back in Psalm 2:6, refers to God’s kingdom. In other words, who may ascend into the kingdom of the Lord? Who may enter God’s kingdom? Who may stand in his holy place? It is this person… Verse four, “he who has clean hands and a pure heart, [what do you mean a pure heart? Keep reading…it is he] who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully.
To lift up one’s soul to…or to trust in falsehood is reminiscent of Ps. 12:2, where the psalmist says, “they speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.” That is talking about someone who is a hypocrite. They flatter with their lips and have a double heart… They speak one thing but their lives and motives tell a different story. Those however with pure hearts are not hypocrites, they do not have a double heart and they do not trust in speaking lies or promising something deceitfully.
So, back to Matt 5:8 then … Jesus is saying those who are hypocritical are not those who are in God’s kingdom. Those who are pure in heart are in God’s kingdom. And who are they? It is they who are utterly sincere! The pure in heart are the utterly sincere toward others.
Their public life matches their private life. They are transparent before men. In their dealings, they do not have ulterior motives…they are pure in heart… They aren’t sly and deceptive, they are as Jesus described Nathanael the disciple … “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!” No deceit, no manipulation, no hiding, no passing on self-deception to others.
This is the person whose talk matches his actions. He doesn’t appear to be upright by his words and actions, he really is upright in his heart, in his actions, his private life and his public life. His walk talks louder than his talk talks…and his walk backs up his talk.
ILL: WYSIWYG What you see is what you get. A WYSIWYG editor is a webpage editor that lets you edit your webpage that really looks like you’re editing the page itself…. you’re editing something that is really close to what it will look like when it is finally published on the web.
That’s the kind of people Christ is referring to, they are WYSIWYG people. What you see is what you get. Their outside matches their insides, their beliefs match their actions.
He’s not a two-faced person, condemning others for the sin he himself commits.
1 Ti.1:5 gives us the same context…
1 Timothy 1:5 5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
A pure heart has a sincere faith, genuine belief and genuine actions… it has a good conscience; it produces godly love. And it comes from proper Christian instruction. That’s the goal of proper Christian instruction.
But as you know, it is so much easier to manufacture a false faith in the presence of others. It is very easy to succumb to temptation and put on a different mask for each aspect of your life to appear godly before others or to appear you know your Bible. Do you do that?
Do you act one way around churchgoers and act another way around the unchurched? If the pastor were in your car, would you drive differently than if your lost acquaintances were in the car? Would you listen to something different?
If the godly person you respect walked through your home, would you want to hide certain things? If you knew that that godly lady were watching your life, would you treat your husband differently? Would you treat your coworkers differently?
Many people have spun such a web of lies, that they are as Obadiah Sedgwick called “formal” hypocrites…This hypocrisy is when a man not only deceives others but deceives his own heart as well. They can’t tell which part of their life is a lie and which is actually real.
ILL: As John Calvin said, “Hypocrisy can plunge the mind of a man into a dark abyss, when he believes his own self-flattery instead of God’s verdict.”
So do your words and actions cover up what is going on inside of your heart or do they genuinely reflect what is in your heart? Are you that Pharisee like Jesus said … Matthew 23:28 “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
There is an element of sincerity in every true Christian, that he’s the real deal. Someone who is a hypocrite as Jesus just described is not someone who is in God’s kingdom. But every Christian is growing in this area.
Somebody says, “The church is full of hypocrites.” If that is true of a church, then that church is filled with people who are not true Christians.
True disciples of Jesus Christ are genuine; they aren’t hypocrites. They confess their faults and do not hide them with flattering words and manipulative, falsifying actions.
ILL: They are not under the spiritual impression as many are in their secular professions. 94% of college professors believe that they are above average teachers. Mathematically, that doesn’t work out! 94% or more of church goers probably think they are on their way to heaven.
ILL: Or many people are like two children sitting at the table when mom says grace. After the prayer, little Susie says, “Mom, Bobby didn’t close his eyes when you prayed.” How did little Susie know Bobby eyes were open during prayer?
Throwing stones in a glass house; look to yourself first. It’s really easy to be lenient with yourself and your own sin and to be strict with others. You should be gracious with others and strict on yourself!
And I wonder how many of you are listening to this sermon and you’re thinking about someone else first! You are, I know you are? I can see the fingers pointing all over this room! And there is a rare finger being pointed at the person who’s doing the pointing! How do I know? Because you have the exact same nature as I have!
TRANS: But every true Christian has an element of this transparency and is growing. And every Christian must grow in being this genuine person of a sincere faith, in words and actions. And if this is you, Jesus has pledged you something wonderful!
Matthew 5:8 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
This is what Psalm 24:3 would say… Who can ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or stand in his holy place?
Well, right now we can’t see God as God in His true form…
1 Timothy 1:17 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” God is invisible.
Exodus 33:20 20 [The LORD said], “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”
ILL: The great commentator on the Scripture of the late 16 and early 1700s Matthew Henry said, “As [God] cannot endure to look upon [our] iniquity, so [we] cannot endure to look upon his purity.”
But for those who have been purified by the blood of Jesus Christ and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, purifying them, one day they shall see God as God truly is.
Until that time, in Scripture we have a taste of what it would be like to see God. We read of a terrifying experience on Mount Sinai when the LORD came down…
Exodus 19:16 16 So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.
Exodus 19:18–21 18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish.”
Because of God’s blazing infinite holiness, if God were to fully reveal Himself to us, we would be utterly consumed and destroyed.
And that’s why when Isaiah sees the vision of the Lord, he immediately considers his own eternal condemnation simply because of the filthiness of his own lips.
Isaiah 6:1–4 1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death [he writes] I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds [shook] at the voice of him who called out, while the temple [filled] with smoke.
After that vision is when Isaiah says…
Isaiah 6:5 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Very few have seen any manifestation of God as we have read. But there is coming a day Revelation 1:7 … when everyone will…
Revelation 1:7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
And for the righteous …
Psalm 11:7 … The upright will behold His face.
Psalm 17:15 As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake…(When I awake from the dead, is the idea).
And so seeing God is something that we should long for. Psalm 42:1–2 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?
And not as long for, but those who are pure in heart, sincere in their faith and actions, should have confidence that we will see Him! Just like Job said … Job 19:26–27 “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27 Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!
And we can have confidence that we will see God because the Lord himself promises it here, which will happen in the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Revelation 22:3–4 [speaks of the New Universe and the New Earth] 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; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
TRANS: Now, what ought you to do about this? The prescription…
The prescription is simply one passage…
1 John 3:1–3 1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
There is a glorious day coming when the process of becoming like Christ will be over! Jesus Christ will appear and we will be like Him and the reason that we will be like Him is because we will see Him just as He is. There is something about seeing Christ in all of the glorious splendor of His gracious holiness… There is something so powerful about seeing God in all of who He is that when that happens, when the pure in heart see Him they will, in a moment, be like Him in the entirety of His purity.
And if you have that hope fixed on him … 1 John 3:3 says that you will then be purifying yourself today just as he is pure.
And so what that means is that if you are a Christian, if you are a follower of Christ, if you are pure in heart, if you are seeking to live Christ’s life in the you … If that is you, you need to work on being the kind of person your conscience is teaching you to be. Not masquerading as a godly person in public, and then in private living a different life. If that characterizes you, you are in danger.
But if you are sitting here this morning and you realize that you have been hypocritical and you are confessing this in your heart and you feel yourself convicted and guilty, then there is work that is being done in your heart. And if you confess that to the Lord, he is faithful and righteous to forgive you and to cleanse you of all of that sin…
And so now purify your life, what you know you should do, do it. Practice what you know to be right; be sincere in your belief and actions.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.8
The pure in heart have a glorious future ahead …
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
Hymn #651 Face to Face