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Study in Matthew’s Gospel

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  1. Study in Matthew’s Gospel Presentation 14

  2. Sermon On The Mount Pure In Heart Chap 5 v1-12 Presentation 14

  3. Introduction St. Valentine’s day captures the imagination of many. Large red hearts on cards keep popping up all over the place. Young children appear able to manufacture them as quickly as their recipients can read them. Of course it is fairly easy to make or send a card. And a great deal of pleasure can be derived from hiding behind its anonymity as young people ask,‘Will they guess that I find them attractive?’ God does not need to guess how committed our hearts are to him. He does not have to wait until we send him a card. Our heart is our card and God regularly reads it to see what we have to say. Presentation 14

  4. What Does Pure In Heart Mean? This sixth beatitude draws us into what is most basic to the gospel - the condition of a person’s heart before God. It distinguishes the great difference that exists between being religious and being a Christian. Religion is concerned with externals, but Christianity is concerned with the condition of the heart. In Jesus’ day, this issue lay behind a great deal of the controversy that raged between Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees were obsessed with what was outward and ceremonial. Presentation 14

  5. What Does Pure In Heart Mean? In Matt. 23v25-28 we read: "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. 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.” Presentation 14

  6. What Does Pure In Heart Mean? According to orthodox Jewish practice a man could entertain thoughts of arrogance, pride, bitterness, hatred and lust in his heart and yet consider himself pure if outwardly his religious practice was beyond reproach. Jesus’ response to such individuals was that they were living in cloud cuckoo land, for God’s concern is with a man’s heart and not with externals and that was a truth which should not have been foreign to them. In Ps. 24v3-4 we read; “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false”. Presentation 14

  7. What Does Pure In Heart Mean? When Jesus spoke of the heart he did not mean the sophisticated pump responsible for circulating blood around our bodies. In Scripture the heart refers to the seat of our personality, the core of our being, and is made up of mind, will and emotion. In drawing attention to the heart of man Jesus zooms in on his most basic problem. Jesus says elsewhere; “What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean'. For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean'.” Mk. 7v20-23 Presentation 14

  8. What Does Pure In Heart Mean? Man’s most basic problem is that his mind, his will and his emotions are all contaminated. Man’s mind is clouded by sin and although he may be able to grasp concepts such as the theory of relativity, he is unable to think clearly about God. His will is stubbornly rebellious and he adamantly refuses to submit to rightful authority. And his emotions are so self-orientated that even when he professes love he is often engaged in no more than self-indulgence. Presentation 14

  9. What Does Pure In Heart Mean? Against such a background Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart’. The word ‘pure’ herecarries two meanings. The first idea is that which has been ‘cleansed of defilement’. The picture of the metal worker comes to mind as he heats gold or silver ore in a great vat or crucible causing the dross and impurities to rise to the surface in order that they might be removed. A pure heart is therefore a heart which has been purged of its impurities of the deceit and the wickedness which is part and parcel of its nature. Presentation 14

  10. What Does Pure In Heart Mean? Secondly, the word ‘pure’ carries the idea of ‘singleness’ lit. ‘to be without folds’, - lots of things can be hidden behind folds. And so Jesus is describing a sincere man, a transparent man. Not a Jeckle and Hyde individual capable of living two quite different and separate lives. It is possible fold a tissue of lies around one’s life and play so many different parts that we end up uncertain of our identity. Purity of heart speaks of a transparency of commitment cf. Ps. 24v 4-6. The impure heart is not simply unclean and in need of cleansing, it is undecided and in need of commitment. It reflects the ‘double minded’ man of Jas. 1v8 who is ‘unstable in all his ways’. Presentation 14

  11. What Does Pure In Heart Mean? The Danish theologian and philosopher Soren Kierkegaard captured Jesus’ meaning in the title of one of his books, ‘Purity of heart is to will one thing’. So that to be pure in heart is to be transparently and uncompromisingly dedicated to Christ. A woman once asked her minister, “What do you mean by complete consecration?" He answered by handing her a blank piece of paper saying, "It means signing this as it is, and turning it over to God to fill in the details". Commitment has to do with the pursuit of God Himself. It is being drawn and pulled. It is becoming what we were designed to be, what we truly are, and doing what we were designed and meant to do. Presentation 14

  12. How Is A Pure Heart Acquired? This leads on to the all important question, ‘How is a pure heart acquired?’ The question has produced all sort of do-it-yourself clean up programmes. The Hindu bathes in the river Ganges in pursuit of purity, the Buddhist strives for purity to gain a better reincarnation, the Muslim keeps the feast of Ramadan and all in pursuit of a pure heart. In 1947 the new Muslim state of Pakistan, was founded. Pakistan means, ‘land of the pure’. Its founders hoped that given the right environmental, social and religious conditions they could produce a pure-hearted people. The land has failed to live up to its name. Presentation 14

  13. How Is A Pure Heart Acquired? From the C4th till the middle ages some, within both the monastic movement and other parts of the Christian church, pursued inward purity of heart by the outward flagellation of their bodies. They foolishly and mistakenly thought that by lashing their bodies with whips they could drive out inward defilement. These are just some of the ways in which men from a variety of faith backgrounds have pursued purity of heart but none of them ever accomplished their objective by these means. Presentation 14

  14. How Is A Pure Heart Acquired? How does scripture answer the question, ‘How can I possess a pure heart?’ It begins by stating that only God can create it: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” Ezek. 36v25-26. A clean heart is not something I can produce but only something which God can create. God’s cleansing involves a thorough housecleaning job on our minds and wills and emotions. Not surprisingly a view of our inner defilement can cause us to cry out with the Psalmist, “Create in me a clean/pure heart” Ps.51v10. Presentation 14

  15. How Is A Pure Heart Acquired? Many Christians grimace as they become increasingly conscious of sin within. They say, ‘I cannot be a Christian for I do not possess a pure heart.’ But Jesus does not equate a pure heart with a sinless life. Evidence of a pure heart is not sinlessness but a heart that has cast out the love of sin. The pure in heart hates and abhors the things which previously it had given house room to. It longs to keep itself free from defilement. Therefore it must confess and distance itself from sin as soon as it becomes aware of it. It says with the Psalmist; “Search me O God and know my heart, Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me” Ps.139v23-24 Presentation 14

  16. How Is A Pure Heart Acquired? The aim of the pure in heart is holiness of life. It seeks to have the daily dust of sin mentioned by Jesus in Jn. 13v10 washed from of its feet. The pure in heart will also welcome the assistance of the piercing light of God’s Word which is able to expose every trace of deception and duplicity within. It will allow the Word of God to wash over its thinking, its will and emotions. It will delight to meditate upon its truth and have those patterns of behaviour which God requires revealed and reinforced. Presentation 14

  17. How Is A Pure Heart Acquired? Being pure in heart also means letting nothing stand in the way of your vision of Christ. We say, ‘He is a great Saviour and Lord,’ and so he is but great things can be completely obscured by little things, if a little thing is brought close enough to our eyes. It is important for us to realise that what matters is not how important a thing is in itself but how closely we fix our gaze upon it. “The disciple of Christ learns to be intolerant of anything that might stand between his soul and complete devotion to the Lord Jesus. He is ruthless without being offensive, firm without being discourteous. But he has one passion and one alone. Everything else must be brought into captivity”. WILLIAM McDONALD Presentation 14

  18. How Is A Pure Heart Acquired? The pure in heart purify themselves by maintaining a healthy expectation of Jesus’ return: “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!… Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” 1Jn. 3v1-3 John says, fix your eyes on Jesus do not allow your gaze to be distracted. This world has nothing to compare with him. If we hold the world and its contents too near we no longer see Christ and his glory clearly. When we allow the value of this world grow out of all proportion, we compromise, stumble and fall. Presentation 14

  19. Seeing God Jesus teaches that the happiness associated with a pure heart is seeing God. You may ask, ‘If God is invisible, how can we see him?’It is spiritual perception that Jesus has in mind here. Cf. Heb. 11v27. “Moses.... by faith persevered because he saw him who is invisible”. It is by faith that the Christian perceives God. First, God is seen as he responds to the Christian’s prayer. As a result of person’s conversion the priorities of their lives are turned upside down. Things they once considered boring like prayer now become vitally important as they begin to see God at work behind the scenes arranging their personal histories. Presentation 14

  20. Seeing God Secondly, the Christian begins to see God in his creation as he has never before. This is what the hymn writer had in mind when he wrote: Heaven above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green, Something lives in every hue, Christless eyes have never seen. This new awareness of the creative power of God is seen as he looks at the lives of other Christians many of whom are ragged round the edges, but nevertheless, he is able to discern the grace of God at work in their lives. Presentation 14

  21. Seeing God Like all of the other beatitudes the promise associated with this one has both a present and a future dimension associated with its fulfilment. During the course of his life down here the Christian is constantly aware that his perception of God is limited and marred. The apostle Paul describes this limitation quite graphically in 1Cor. 13 as ‘looking at a poor reflection in a mirror’.But all the time we are being prepared for an audience the King of Kings and then in glory we shall have such an overwhelming awareness of God that the Bible describes this as seeing God ‘face to face’. Presentation 14

  22. Conclusion Are we possessors of this purity of heart? We are thinking both of the heart that is cleansed from sin and committed to Christ. How large does Jesus loom on the horizon of our daily lives? Jesus provides us with a simple test of the strength of our Christian lives. How clearly do we see God in his glory? Do we see him as clearly as we used to? Or has he become obscure and distant? Has the world loomed larger than it ought before our eyes? Have we maintained the sharpness of our vision of him by a wholehearted commitment to him? Valentine cards are sometimes sent to trick or mislead the unsuspecting recipient. God is not misled. We cannot pull the wool over his eyes. He reads our hearts! Presentation 14