The Sermon on the Mount
By E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

7 – The Sixth Beatitude: Pure in Heart

Our study today will bring us to Matthew 5:8:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Before we look at this beatitude it would be most helpful if we remind ourselves of some things that we have covered so we’ll know where we are coming from.  I would like to point to four things:

  1. To whom was the Sermon on the Mount addressed?  Look at verses 1 and 2.  It was addressed to His disciples:

    Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.  His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying....

  2. We must make a distinction between a disciple and the ordinary public.  A disciple is one who is already converted and is a follower of Christ.  We need to keep this in mind; otherwise, we will misinterpret the Sermon on the Mount.

    I want to show you something in regards to this.  Turn to Matthew 28.  Jesus had died, was buried, and resurrected, and He has gone to the Father, and now He comes back before He ascends for the last time.  He comes and gives His disciples their commission.  Look at verses 18-20a:

    Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [By that He meant that now He had a legal right to take sinners to Heaven.  He had authority, because He satisfied all that the Law required in terms of our salvation.]  Therefore [because of this] go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you....”

    “Go preach the gospel to those people and make them my disciples, baptize them.”  The Sermon on the Mount is the key passage in the gospel of the teachings of Christ concerning how He wants His disciples to behave.  He is not speaking of the gospel; He is speaking of the fruits of the gospel in the life of the believer.

  3. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is addressing His disciples and is teaching them what constitutes a true disciple.  And He does it in contrast to Judaism.  The people He was addressing were Jews.  These Jews were raised up in the religion of Judaism, the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees. And you will see as we go along the contrast.

  4. The beatitudes follow a very definite sequence and we need to keep this sequence in mind.  For example, the first three beatitudes describe the awareness, the consciousness of our needs.  Matthew 5:3-5:

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

    A true disciple is one who realizes He is spiritually bankrupt, therefore, he is “poor in spirit.”  Of course, because of that, he is also “mourning” because of his sinful state.  And this awareness of his spiritual bankruptcy — his mourning — causes him to be “meek,” because he has a true understanding of himself.  He is not proud.  These three awarenesses leads the person to be “hungry and thirsty after the righteousness” that comes from God.  Matthew 5:6:

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

    If you look at Matthew 6:33, you will notice that a disciple is one who “seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and he recognizes that all the other things like food, clothing, shelter will be added “to you.”

    But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

    The first three beatitudes are revealing our need; the fourth beatitude is satisfying that need:

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

    God will never answer that request in the negative.  He always is generous with righteousness because that is what He came for.

    Then, in the fifth, sixth, and seventh beatitudes, Jesus points to the result of that satisfaction.  In other words, those who have been satisfied with the righteousness of God will reveal this in three ways:  (a) they will be merciful; (b) they will be pure in heart; (c) they will be peacemakers.  These are the fruits.  Matthew 5:7-9:

    Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

    And then number eight directs us to the outcome of this.  Matthew 5:10:

    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Do you know what the outcome is when you reflect Christ?  Persecution.  Let me give you a text:  2 Timothy 3:12.  There is no “maybe” here; one of the outcomes of being merciful, pure in heart, and a peacemaker is persecution.

    In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

    Please notice, back in Matthew 5:10, what are they persecuted for?

    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Because of righteousness.”  Verse 11:

    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

    That is one of the “joys” of being a disciple, but it is only for a season.  Matthew 5:12:

    Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Now, let’s go to our study, Matthew 5:8:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

First of all, what did Jesus mean by the word “heart”?  He did not mean the heart that pumps our blood.  (The Greek word for “heart” is “cardiac.”)  It refers to that part of the human mind where are our desires, our motives are; that is what Jesus meant by the heart.  In this beatitude, more than any other of the beatitudes, is the contrast between true disciples and Judaism (the victims of it).

Judaism was legalistic and the difference is this.  The true Christian is looking for inner righteousness, the legalist (the Judaist) is looking for outward righteousness.  Inner righteousness always produces outward righteousness, but the emphasis is different.  God looks at heart righteousness, man wants rule righteousness, or outward righteousness.

I want to give you an example of the scribes and Pharisees.  Let me read you a statement from Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing by Ellen G. White (pg. 24):

“The Jews were so exacting in regard to ceremonial purity and their regulations were extremely burdensome.  Their minds were occupied with rules [rules righteousness] and restrictions and the fear of outward defilement and they did not perceive the stain that selfishness and malice imparted to the soul.”

[Then, on page 25, she quoted, “Blessed are the pure in heart” and she wrote:]
“This beatitude has a deeper meaning.  Not merely pure in the sense which the world understands purity [that is free from that which is sensual, pure from lust] but true in the hidden purpose and motives [that is the inward righteousness] of the soul.  Free from pride and self-seeking, humble, unselfish, and child-like.”

Children are wonderful because we know what they are thinking.  They express what they think.  It’s only when they grow up that they learn to hide things.  I remember when we first went to Ethiopia, we were invited to an Ethiopian home.  We had never eaten Ethiopian food before in our lives and it was quite an experience.  They make a pancake out of flour that I had never seen grow anyplace else in the world.  It is called “teff.”  It is almost sand; it is a little grain.  They make a paste and keep the paste setting for four or five days until it gets quite sour.  And the pancake is about two feet in diameter.  Because it is so big you don’t flip it, so they cook it in the griddle and the top part is cooked by steam.  And the way they steam it (I discovered later on) is they use a basket.  And to make it air tight they smear it with cow’s dung.  But the bread is steamed and it is sour and then they cut it in strips and roll it up and it looks like bandages.  And you break a piece and dip it in sauce and the sauce is awfully hot.  And here we sat around this table and we took this stuff and my little girl at that time was three years old.  And she put it in her mouth, and she felt exactly like all of us felt, but she was young, so she did not hide her feelings.  She said, “Yuk, this stuff tastes terrible!”  Because, you see, she was not used to it.  Of course, once you get used to it you get almost addicted to it; in fact, she would love it today if she visited there.  After eating it for six years, you develop a taste for it.  It’s tasty once you get used to it.

The pure in heart do not say one thing and mean another.  That is to be double-minded.  Do you know what James says about a double-minded person?  James 1:7-9:

That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Let me give you what Jesus says about the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were double-minded.  Their actions and their heart did not coincide.  Please turn to Matthew 23; we won’t read the whole chapter, but the whole chapter is dealing with this.  We’ll look at one or two verses.  We’ll start with verse 5.  This is the righteousness that comes from the Pharisees.  When we come to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus will say that the righteousness of the disciples must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. In other words, it must be more than an outward conformity; it must be inside.  But look at Matthew 23:5:

Everything they do [by the way, their works were good, but why did they do them?] is done for men to see:  They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long [They said, “We mustn’t show our knees because we want people to see how holy we are.”];....

Then go to verse 25-28, because I want you to notice there are words that Jesus uses many times.  In this chapter there are two phrases that He will use:  (a) you “blind guides” and (b) “hypocrites.”  Matthew 5:25-26:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

So what Christ is saying here is that it is possible to clean the outward and not the inward.  But He is saying that, if you clean the inward, the outward will also be clean.  Legalism is concerned about outward performance; the gospel is concerned with the heart.  The outward follows, but it may take time.

Look at verses 27 and 28:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

In other words their motives were not clean, their actions were.  And we need to keep this in mind.  The word “hypocrisy” came from play-acting.  In the olden days, they did not try to conform to their role in play-acting like the Hollywood actors do.  Now Hollywood actors produce tears or smiles, but then they used to use masks for tears or smiles — play-acting — and from that came the word hypocrisy.  And so Jesus is saying that a true disciple is clean inwardly.

Now here is the problem:  we cannot judge the heart because we can’t read it.  Who does it?  God does.  Sometimes the heart is clean but the outward has not yet become clean, so when you sit in this church and you say, “look at the way she or he dresses,” please remember that, inside, they may be cleaner than you.  Once God cleans you inside, it begins to work outward.  We need to know that because Christianity is not conformity to rules.

I want to give you an experience we had.  One day a young girl — she was about 12 years old — came to our house.  Here in America, young people go out on a newspaper route; in Africa, they go selling eggs, because it is hard to get eggs there, so they go to missionary homes selling eggs.  This girl was the daughter of the elder of the Church.  Her father had told her never to come home until she had sold the eggs.  She came to our college and she went from house to house and she did not sell a single egg.  And our house was the very last.  She came and knocked on the door and when Jean opened the door and asked what she could do for her, she asked, “Would you like to please buy these eggs?”  Jean looked at them and they were huge; usually African chicken eggs are very small.  They are smaller sometimes than the smallest eggs here.  And Jean said, “I have never seen such big eggs.  Are they chicken eggs?” and the girl said, “Yes.”  And Jean told her that she must have special chickens to have such big eggs.  And the girl said, “Yes.”  But Jean called me because there was something strange about those eggs.  I said, “These are not chicken eggs; they are duck eggs.”

So not to embarrass her in front of my wife, I spoke to her in her language.  Jean did not know the language.  I said to her in Swahili, “Why did you lie?”  The moment I spoke in her language, she felt comfortable to talk to me.  She told me that her father had told her that she must not come home until she had sold the eggs and we were the last house.  “My father is very strict and it means no supper for me and I am starving.”  The Africans have only one main meal a day; they have porridge, which is made of corn flour with water without sugar and without salt and without milk.

One cup of that for breakfast and the next meal is at eight o’clock in the evening, no snacks in between.  So she was starving and her father said she couldn’t come home until she sold her eggs.  So I said to Jean, “Why don’t you buy them?”  And she said, “What can I do with them?  Duck eggs are unclean.”  I said, “Are you sure?”  So we decided to look.  She looked in the Spirit of Prophecy [by Ellen G. White] and I looked in the Bible and we couldn’t find it anywhere.  And she said, “I’m sure they are unclean.”  So, since she couldn’t find it, she said, “When in doubt, abstain.”

I felt sorry for the girl so I said, “Why don’t you go call your father and I’ll explain to him the problem so he will not deprive you of your supper.”  And he came and he was furious; he was not in the mood to be told anything.  He said, “I don’t know what is wrong with you new missionaries.”  The old missionaries were from Europe; they ate anything.  The new missionaries from America were very fussy.  He said, “The old missionaries allowed us to do anything, so I prefer the Adventism of the old missionaries.”  He was judging Adventism by outward conformity and he was saying, “I prefer that because it gives me more license than this.”  And I had to sit down and say, “Look, brother, the issue is not the outward conformity.  The issue is that we must be clean in the heart.  If this egg is unclean, then these people are right because they want to be honest with God.”  He wouldn’t listen, so I gave him a bit of money for the sake of the girl and said, “Look, will you please feed your daughter.”

But we are in danger of making outward righteousness the essence of Christianity and we must be clear that God is concerned about the heart.  It is very easy for us to appear holy in front of the members.  Now the question comes, “How can we become pure in heart?”  Let us not forget that the true disciple is “poor in spirit.”  What does that mean?  It means that he recognizes, he is aware that, in and of himself, he can do nothing.  He cannot clean his own heart.

What is the heart naturally?  Let’s look at what the Bible says about the natural heart.  See what Jeremiah says about the natural heart.  Jeremiah 17:9:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?

In other words, it will deceive even you.  Let’s turn now to Matthew 12:34-35.  Jesus is talking to the Judaizers, the Jews who were so concerned about outward righteousness.

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?  For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

Remember that God is concerned about the source.  Turn to Matthew 15:17-20.  This is Jesus talking to the disciples, explaining an argument He had regarding the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were accusing the disciples of eating without washing hands.

Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?  But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man “unclean.”  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what make a man “unclean”; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him “unclean.”

Jesus is not talking about health here; He is talking about spiritual things.  The Jews had taken even the health laws that God gave the Jews and they used them as a requirement of spirituality.  It is possible for our hearts to be full of murderous thoughts, and thoughts of fornication, and false witnesses, and blasphemies and yet our words may be good.  That is hypocrisy.  This is what Christ is saying about the natural heart.  Can you clean your own heart?  The greatest evidence I can give you is the experience of the Russian countries.  The philosophy of Marxism is that you can clean the heart of man by changing his environment, by forcing him to share, by forcing him to be good.  Well, Russia has been forcing its people for 70 years; East Germany has been forcing for a little less time than that.  Have they produced a clean people?  No.  They have produced a people who want to run away and find freedom.  So please remember, number one, you cannot purify your own heart.  Then how do you do it?  I want to give you Christ as an example because Christ took our humanity.  How did His heart remain pure?  Please turn to Matthew 11:28-30 and Christ Himself will tell us how His heart remained pure.  He is talking to the same kind of people who were trying to purify themselves in order to go to heaven.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

“Come to me all of you who are trying to purify your own heart.”  Jesus recognized, “I can do nothing of myself” (He was talking as a man).  Jesus was the best example of a true disciple:  He was meek.

He is talking about His yoke, which is the new covenant, in contrast to the yoke of Judaism, which is the old covenant.  What is the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant?  In the old covenant, you are promising God to be good.  You are the one who is trying to clean your heart.  You are the one who is trying to produce righteousness and that is not only hard work, it is very discouraging work and it brings up a heavy-laden problem.

In the new covenant, it is God Who promises to clean your heart.  It is God Who does it.  Man’s part is faith.  In other words, the new covenant is God’s promises made effective in our life through faith alone.  And I want you to know that God clearly taught the Jews this in the Old Testament but they were not willing to accept it.  I want to give you some passages.  Turn to Ezekiel 11:19-20.  This is a description of the new covenant.

I will give them an undivided heart [no jealousy or fighting among them] and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone [hard] and give them a heart of flesh.  Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Please notice He is talking about a covenant that He is going to make with people who He has first saved.  He is not doing this in order to save them; He is doing this after they have been redeemed and accepted their salvation.  Turn in the same book to Chapter 36:26-28; He repeats it.  Ezekiel 36:26-28:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you [new motives]; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees [He will be the One Who will cause us to follow] and be careful to keep my laws.  You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

He repeats this in Jeremiah, too, and, of course, the writer of Hebrews brings this out very clearly.  Hebrews 8:10:

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.  I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.

“I will write the love of God in your hearts.”  That’s the new covenant!  So, number one:  we cannot clean our own hearts; number two:  the only way that our hearts can be cleaned is the new covenant promises.  But for that to happen, we must be like Christ.  “I can of myself do nothing.”  In John 6:57, Jesus says, “As I live by the Father, I want you to live by Me.”  So our only hope is the new covenant.

Now, let’s go back to the beatitudes.  So far I have covered only the first half of the beatitude.  Matthew 5:8:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Do you realize what a blessing that is?  What did Jesus mean?

Turn to John 14.  Do you remember the question Philip asked Jesus in verse 8?

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

What was he asking?  Show us the outward appearance, the physical appearance of God.  He was a victim of Judaism.  Listen to the answer Jesus gave.  John 14:9a:

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....”

So did the disciples see the Father?  Yes, in Jesus Christ.  Did they see Him in the physical sense or in character sense?  Christ revealed God’s glory to them.  He revealed the love that His Father had for them through His lifestyle.  So we are able to see God now.  And a true disciple has seen God.  He is not afraid of God.

Let me ask you a question.  If you have had a bad day, you got up late so you forgot to pray, and you lost your temper because the porridge your wife cooked was without salt, and then you got to work and then you were mad at people who were under you because you were mad at your boss but didn’t want to reveal that and you take it out on the others.  Then you come home and you look back and you say, “I wonder if God will listen to me today?”  And you don’t pray because you are afraid He will not forgive your sins.  Have you ever had this experience?  You have not seen God completely.  God is willing to forgive you, even though you have been a total failure.  You may say to God, “I did not mean to be what I was today.”  God will say, “As long as you do not depend on me, you will be just what you were today.”  Don’t try and kid yourself. God is not taken by surprise.

So first thing, you need to see God now and only those who have seen God through the new covenant experience and know God have seen God because they know what He is like.  When will we see Him fully as He is?  Because even though we see Him in terms of love, we must admit that there are some areas that we are not quite clear about.  And one of them is:  Why is He allowing such terrible things to happen here when He could have stopped it?  There are Christians who are asking, “God, why?”  David says, “When I know of your righteous judgment, I will praise your name, I will see you completely.”  Look at 1 John 3:2:

Dear friends, now [not in the future, but now, speaking to true believers] we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when he appears [at the second coming], we shall be like him [for now we will be totally redeemed], for we shall see him as he is.

That, we can say, is the final atonement.  Hearts that are pure may be one with Him, but our natures are not.  In the Second Coming of Christ there will be nothing that separates us from God.  We will be like Him.  We will have the same kind of nature, the same attitude; you will be like Him.

In closing I want to read verse 3 [of 1 John 3]:

Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

In what sense?  Look at verse 1 for the context:

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

The world doesn’t know God.  They are afraid of God.  They think He is a tyrant, but we know God because the “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.”  And everyone who has this hope, has one desire:  to be like who?  To be like God in character.  Christ will expound on this when we come to the last part of Matthew 5.

Please remember, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  Because God is pure in heart.  His outward acts do not look to us pure sometimes because we don’t understand Him, but remember that God does nothing that is hypocritical.  Whatever God does comes from the heart and we need to understand that is how God wants us to be.  He wants us to be honest in heart, humble in heart, clean in heart.  He wants, in other words, for us to be single-minded.  Your friends and your spouse cannot read your heart, but there is One Who can read your heart as an open book and don’t ever try to hide your feelings and your motives from God.  And when your natural heart takes over and you have some terrible thoughts, don’t be afraid to say, “God, that’s me.  Please take over.”  And He will do it because we know that our natural hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful.  When you put your trust in Him, He will say, “I am the only One Who can take away your stony heart and give you a heart of flesh.”  When that happens, we will have a Church that will be very attractive; we won’t have to promote a caring Church.  May God bless us that we may reach this stage.

Remember, this is one of the fruits of the gospel.  It is only those who have been satisfied with the righteousness of Christ who will be merciful and pure in heart.

Can you see that God’s ideal for man is above human ideals?  He doesn’t want us to be just mediocre.  He doesn’t want just outward conformity.  And ladies, if you read the texts that we normally use about jewelry, you will notice that it is in this context that both Paul and Peter say that the inward beauty is more important than the outward beauty.  That is the emphasis.  The priority is inward beauty.  That must be true of all of us — men and women.  God is pleading that your goal be for inward purity.  Don’t worry about the outward; it will come.

I think of a young lady with whom we studied.  When she first came, she had lots of jewelry and things and I gave her the gospel.  And after she understood the gospel, I said, “Now I want to give you some of the doctrines.”  I knew I was coming to standards.  And as we went along, I noticed she was changing and changing and when we came to jewelry, I said, “I don’t even have to touch this.”  Because she had already conformed to the standard.  She said, “It is no longer attractive to me.”  The gospel had done it.  But if she had not seen God!  If we do not fall in love with God, we are then concerned about outward conformity:  what people will think about us and what they will say about us.

It is my prayer that we will aim for inward cleansing and the outward will take care of itself.

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