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Purity

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We’ve been making our way through the beatitudes in Matthew chapter five. Each one begins with the word ‘blessed’ – also meaning “happy”. As we have been pondering these beatitudes we are discovering steps to happiness. Today we focus on verse eight:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NKJV)

As inhabitants of the developed world we are increasingly concerned with environmental purity. We want pure water. We want pure air. We want the foods we eat to be pure – and to not contain harmful additives. The UK bottled water market is worth over £2.1 billion. Total UK bottled water production stood at over 2,200 million litres in 2015. But there’s an area of our lives more important than the water we drink, more important than the air we breath, more important than the food we eat. God says — “Happy are the pure in heart.”

We should all want to have the purest of hearts, and here is a beatitude that says to us: STOP! GET OUT A LARGE MAGNIFYING GLASS, AND EXAMINE YOURSELF! The Greek word for “pure” is interesting.

  • It could mean dirty clothes that have been washed clean.
  • It could describe grain and flour which have been carefully sifted — cleansed of all impurities.
  • It could also describe milk or wine not been mixed with any other liquid – not diluted or watered down: pure.

So this beatitude could be translated, “Happy is the one who is genuine in heart, who is authentic, who is not a phony, who has not been watered down by worldly values, because such a person will see God.” In other words we are talking about being “Holy”. It is always interesting to consider what God says in His word about a subject:

“Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16 (NKJV)

God is holy. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Pure and clean and without blemish – Holy – is what God is. And God wants us to be like Him. God is holy – God is pure – and God wants us to also be holy and pure. Today let’s look at three steps to having a pure heart.

1. Remember God sees EVERYTHING

“Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make; he’s aware of every step you take.” Proverbs 5:21 (MSG)

  • Nothing is secret from God.
  • Nothing is a surprise to Him.
  • Question: Does it bother you that you have no secrets from God?

Honestly – it bothers me sometimes, because there are a lot of things I would like to be kept secret. The big problem I have with this is that God already knows them. He knows everything about me and He knows EVERYTHING about you. That’s so cool, huh! Over the years I have had many quiet smiles, observing people who think they are fooling God. That somehow He doesn’t see everything they have done – but He has. He sees right through everything. If you think that is scary – look at the next verse:

“For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.” Mark 4:22 (NKJV)

Everything that we think is hidden will be revealed – everything that we think is secret will be exposed. Wow! I worked with a man once, I was probably 19 or 20 then, and he had a little sign painting business on the side. All for cash, no income declared, no tax paid. He told me be day he had it all worked out: he would not pay his money to the taxman and when he died he had also figured out how he was going to get all his hard earned money into heaven with him. I laughed, but he was as serious as could be. I think God saw it all and figured He could wait and let the man find out for himself one day.

“For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.” Mark 4:22 (NKJV)

Shouldn’t that change our behaviour? Shouldn’t that change the way we act? If God knows everything already – and everything is going to be revealed – I might as well strive to have a pure heart. Faking it does not pull the wool vet His eyes. I may fool some people – some of the time – but I fool God none of the time. It is an amazing thing – God knows everything I have done – and yet He loves me anyway.

  • A pure heart is conscious that God knows them inside and out.
  • A pure heart is aware that God sees their every move.
  • A pure heart knows that God knows them – and that God loves them anyway.

This is a mark of maturity, being conscious that God is with you all the time. An immature Christian acts like God isn’t there at all, or that there are times and places they can become invisible to the Creator of the universe. Imagine that! They cover their eyes and shout out ‘you can’t see me! God can’t see me’ – and the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit catch each other’s little grins as observe this childish play.

A mature Christian, however, focuses on pleasing God. There is a will, there is a desire. There is some attitude of the heart and some huge need as a follower of Jesus should be to bring pleasure to God. That’s a pure heart. Not trying to please everyone – instead striving to please God – and believe the Scriptures – God knows every move you make. He loves you and He wants you to be successful.  Secondly,

2. Review your MOTIVES

Honest evaluation of why we do what we do is like a good MOT. We should often stop, slow down, and examine our motives. In Proverbs chapter sixteen:

“All a man’s ways seem right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the motives.” Proverbs 16:2 (HCSB)

Purity implies we constantly check our motives. Actually, second Corinthians chapter thirteen tells us:

“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 (MSG)

Let me suggest three areas to test yourself.

A. GIVING

When you give something, what is the motive behind your giving? Are you giving in order to get something in return? Are you giving to be noticed by other people? Giving out of guilt? Out of habit? Look at what it says in Matthew chapter six:

“Whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!” Matthew 6:2 (HCSB)

Personally, I think the less you care about anybody knowing about your giving, the closer you are to purity that pleases God.

We also need to check our motives in:

 B. PRAYING

Ask yourself – am I talking to God or am I talking so that others can hear me? Is my prayer addressed to my Father – or do I pray so that others will pay attention? Am I trying to impress others or am I talking to God? Jesus gives this warning in Matthew chapter six:

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!” Matthew 6:5 (HCSB)

Are your prayers for others too pay attention to, or are they being directed to God? What is the motive behind your prayers? Many times I have been in prayer where people have tried to impress others with a flowery way of praying. Sometimes they spend 3 minutes telling God what He already knows, and other times it is quite a superficial rendering of memorised or stylised prayers. I say superficial, because there can be deep and personal meaning in rote prayers or liturgical prayers, when our heart and passion are in accord with them. It is a good check on our purity, to look at our prayer life, to see if it is a simple dialogue between a child and a Father who loves that child much more than it can ever know. We also need to examine why we do what we do in our:

C. SERVING

“Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.” Psalms 100:2 (NKJV)

OK, so God being God, we are supposed to serve Him. And we are to serve Him with GLADNESS. We come back to the motive question once again: am I striving to please people or am I striving to please God? Remember the simple truth expressed by Jesus himself, is that you can’t serve two masters. So it always ends up with a decision about priorities.

At a care home, a resident group was discussing ailments. “My arms are so weak I can hardly life this cup of coffee,” said one. “Yes I know, my cataracts are so bad I can’t even see my coffee,” replied another. “I can’t turn my head because of the arthritis in my neck,” said a third. At which several others nodded … weakly. “My blood pressure pills make me dizzy,” another one went on. “I guess that’s the price we pay for getting old,” winced an old man. “It sure beats the alternative.” “Well, it’s not that bad,” said one woman cheerfully. “Thank goodness we can all still drive!”

Are your priorities out of place today? Are you just so thankful that you can drive that you don’t see ways to serve and please God that are all around you? What is the motive behind what you do? Remember:

“All a man’s ways seem right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the motives.” Proverbs 16:2 (HCSB)

The third step to having a pure heart is to:

 3. Align your PRIORITIES with God’s

Do you remember what the first of the Ten Commandments is? It is: “You shall no other gods before Me.” What do you think God is saying? God is saying – “I want top place. I don’t want to be second or third place in your life. Whether it’s your career, your husband, your wife, your retirement time, your money … anything – I want to be first.” How do we know we are making Him first in your life? Let me give you three tests:

PRIORITY TEST

A. ACTIVITIES.

Ask – where do I invest the THREE T’s – my *time*, my *treasure*, and my *talents*? Wherever you put your three T’s is what you have made priority in your life. Regardless of what you say or think is your priority – if you look at where you invest your time, treasure and talents, is actually what the priorities are in your life. Sometimes I think the new number one priority for many people is spending quality time staring at their mobile phone! It could be other things of course, but if you want to have a pure heart you need to determine where your heart is.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (HCSB)

B. ANXIETIES.

What do I worry about most? You can tell a lot about a person by what they worry about.

Is it finances, food, fitness, fashion, or the future? Worrying about any of these things means God is not number one in your life. He may be a part of your life, of course, but He is standing in your line of priorities, and you get to say whether He stays where He is or if He can jump to the front. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew chapter six:

“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25 (HCSB)

Jesus tells us to put our trust in the Father. He says, “Look at the birds in the sky – God takes care of them – they don’t worry – and you are worth much more than them.”

C. AMBITIONS.

What are the goals in my life? My goals reveal the direction of my heart. D. L. Moody said,

“I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled.”

What is the number one ambition of your life? What is the most important thing to achieve? Many Christians have the same ambitions and goals as their non-Christian friends. There is no difference, with the result being that they have the same tensions, same stresses, same headaches, same problems. God’s economy is radically different. His way is that if we set our hearts first and foremost on pleasing Him – then we will see Him, know Him, experience Him, with the result that we WILL be happy. “Happy are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”

Happiness comes from walking in the presence of God. He sees your every move. He knows your motives. He knows when you have made Him the top priority of your life. Jesus said it this way:

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

To wrap it up today then, make God the top priority of your heart. Check your heart. We all need a spiritual MOT. What’s the condition of your heart?

  • Some of you may have a broken heart. Jesus can mend it!
  • Some of you may have a hard heart. Jesus can soften it!
  • Some of you may have a cold heart. Jesus can warm it!

But you must give your heart to Him. Put your heart in His care – put your heart in His hands – and let Him work a miracle in your life – today.