Reading 5 – Wednesday, December 6, 2006
The blessings from the Sermon on the Mount are some of the most precious jewels from the treasury of God’s loving promises. They express the Lord’s desire for our happiness, the secret of our present and eternal well-being. “The Sermon on the Mount is a wonderful production, yet so simple that a child can study it without misunderstanding.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 439. “The beatitudes were His greeting to the whole human family. Looking upon the vast throng gathered to listen to the Sermon on the Mount, He seemed for the moment to have forgotten that He was not in heaven, and He used the familiar salutation of the world of light. From His lips flowed blessings as the gushing forth of a long-sealed fountain.” – Education, p. 79.
One of the many blessings Jesus offered to the repentant and converted was this: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8.
David had composed a similar message in Psalm 24, probably to celebrate the transfer of the ark to Jerusalem. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Psalm 24:3-5.
This description does not refer to outward cleanliness. “The Jews were so exacting in regard to ceremonial purity that their regulations were extremely burdensome. Their minds were occupied with rules and restrictions and the fear of outward defilement, and they did not perceive the stain that selfishness and malice impart to the soul. Jesus does not mention this ceremonial purity as one of the conditions of entering into His kingdom, but points out the need of purity of heart. The wisdom that is from above ‘is first pure.’ James 3:17. Into the city of God there will enter nothing that defiles. All who are to be dwellers there will here have become pure in heart.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 24.
The meaning of the Greek word for “blessed,” makarioi, is “happy,”or “fortunate.” The word corresponds to the Hebrew ’ashre, meaning “happy,” or “blessed.” Jesus knows the human being in depth and his inward desire to be happy. This is because He himself implanted this longing in man when creating him in His image. When we choose Christ as our Saviour and Lord and walk along the narrow path, obeying His rules of love, we are citizens of the kingdom of grace. We receive His promised peace, forgiveness, and salvation—not the temporary pleasure offered by the amusements of the world, but a peace that lasts even when the wind of adversity shakes us with its trials. But having this peace is conditional upon having a clean heart.
A clean heart
When speaking about a “clean heart” we think mainly of sexual purity. It is true that a pure life excludes any sexual relations outside the bond of marriage, and he who desires purity of heart will not give loose rein to his fantasies and thoughts about low and sinful passions. “But the words of Jesus, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart,’ have a deeper meaning—not merely pure in the sense in which the world understands purity, free from that which is sensual, pure from lust, but true in the hidden purposes and motives of the soul, free from pride and self-seeking, humble, unselfish, childlike.” –Ibid, p. 25.1.
“In one who is learning of Jesus, there will be manifest a growing distaste for careless manners, unseemly language, and coarse thought. When Christ abides in the heart, there will be purity and refinement of thought and manner.” –Ibid, p. 24.
He who has a clean heart will not live a life criticizing others, because putting others down in order to uplift oneself shows arrogance and pride. People with pure hearts will refrain from the poison of jealousy, envy, and gossip.
Resentment and hate are worse than cancer because they pollute our hearts and separate us from God. “If ye forgive not men their trespasses,” Jesus said, “neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man.” Matthew 15:19, 20.
Two-faced people, who praise you in your presence but criticize you when you turn your back, have unclean hearts. “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things.” Psalm 12: 2, 3.
He who wants a clean heart will not spend hours in front of the TV watching sin, worldliness, violence, immorality, and spiritualism. He will not pollute his soul reading novels and jokes. He who has a pure heart will always speak the truth, even if he loses; neither will he speak half-truths to deceive others or distort reality.
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men – men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.” –Education, p. 57. Men and women with such principles are pure in heart.
Have you and I returned all that we have borrowed? Have we paid our debts? The passing of time does not lessen our duty. When we find things, do we seek the owners – or find excuses to keep the items for ourselves? Cleanliness of heart relates to practical Christianity, to our responsibility toward others.
Fruit of a clean heart
“When one is fully emptied of self, when every false god is cast out of the soul, the vacuum is supplied by the inflowing of the Spirit of Christ. Such a one has the faith which works by love and purifies the soul from every moral and spiritual defilement. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, can work upon the heart, influencing and directing, so that he enjoys spiritual things. He is ‘after the Spirit’ (Romans 8:1), and he minds the things of the Spirit. He has no confidence in self; Christ is all in all. Truth is constantly being unfolded by the Holy Spirit; he receives with meekness the engrafted word, and he gives the Lord all the glory, saying, ‘God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 2:10). ‘Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God’ (verse 12).
“The Spirit that reveals also works in him the fruits of righteousness. Christ is in him ‘a well of water springing up into everlasting life’ (John 4:14). He is a branch of the True Vine, and bears rich clusters of fruit to the glory of God. What is the character of the fruit borne? ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love.’ Mark the words—love, not hatred; it is joy, not discontent and mourning; peace, not irritation, anxiety, and manufactured trials. It is ‘longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law’ (Galatians 5:22, 23).
“Those who have this Spirit will be earnest laborers together with God; the heavenly intelligences cooperate with them, and they go weighted with the Spirit of the message of truth which they bear. They are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. They are ennobled, refined, through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. They have not brought into the treasury of the soul wood, hay, stubble, but gold, silver, and precious stones. They speak words of solid sense, and from the treasures of the heart bring forth pure and sacred things according to the example of Christ.” –Home Missionary, Nov. 1, 1893, Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 91.
Today we receive blessings, both spiritual and physical, from the kingdom of grace; today we are comforted, helped, justified. We receive the right to, and fitness for, heaven and can rejoice in Jesus.
“He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.” Proverbs 22:11. “By faith we behold Him here and now. In our daily experience we discern His goodness and compassion in the manifestation of His providence. We recognize Him in the character of His Son.… The pure in heart see God in a new and endearing relation, as their Redeemer; and while they discern the purity and loveliness of His character, they long to reflect His image. They see Him as a Father longing to embrace a repenting son, and their hearts are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” –Maranatha, p. 88.
“The pure in heart discern the Creator in the works of His mighty hand, in the things of beauty that comprise the universe. In His written word they read in clearer lines the revelation of His mercy, His goodness, and His grace. The truths that are hidden from the wise and prudent are revealed to babes. The beauty and preciousness of truth, which are undiscerned by the worldly-wise, are constantly unfolding to those who have a trusting, childlike desire to know and to do the will of God. We discern the truth by becoming, ourselves, partakers of the divine nature.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 26.
“Too many Christians become spiritually cross-eyed in the attempt to keep one eye fixed on the heavenly Canaan and the other on the ‘pleasures of sin’ (Hebrews 11:25) and the ‘flesh pots’ of Egypt (Exodus 16:3). Our only safety is to live by principle, to make God first in the life. Those today who see that the things of the world are to be ‘desired,’ whose attention is fixed on the glittering baubles of earth that Satan displays, will never see the greater value of obeying God. The window of the soul must be kept clean if we would ‘see God.’” –S.D.A. Bible Commentary, p. 328.
The promise says that “the pure in heart … shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. “For three hundred years Enoch had been seeking purity of soul, that he might be in harmony with Heaven. For three centuries he had walked with God. Day by day he had longed for a closer union; nearer and nearer had grown the communion, until God took him to Himself. He had stood at the threshold of the eternal world, only a step between him and the land of the blest; and now the portals opened, the walk with God, so long pursued on earth, continued, and he passed through the gates of the Holy City – the first from among men to enter there.” –My Life Today, p. 341.
Jesus will soon come to take us, too, to heaven. The signs of the time, the fulfilment of prophecy, clearly announce His coming. Yes, Jesus will soon take us to that home of perfect bliss, to a heaven unshadowed by sin and death, where the stigma of evil will have vanished forever. The only reminder will be the wounds in our Saviour’s hands. We’ll ask, “What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” Zechariah 13:6.
How can we obtain a clean heart?
Do you wish to have a clean heart? Make up your mind to depart from sin; make this a ruling principle in your life, and consecrate your life entirely to God, through Christ’s grace. Abandon your errors of the past and say, like Paul, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14.
“When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:1-3.
Tell your beloved Jesus the same thing: “Lord, if you want to, you can cleanse me from the polluting leprosy of sin, from the filthiness of my dirty heart, from the deformity of my rebellious character.” Plead with the Master to forgive your sins. But at the same time make a firm decision to put aside, with His help, every sinful habit. Jesus will lovingly stretch out His hand toward you and say, as He told the leper, “I will; be thou clean!”
Although David had committed a terrible sin, he contritely made no excuse for what he had done. “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity,” he said, “and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.… Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.… Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” Psalm 51:2, 3, 7, 10-12.
“When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:3-5.
Only Jesus can clean us. “A new heart also will I give you,” He has promised, “and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26, 27.
Let us pray earnestly for a spiritual revival. Let us analyze our past and confess to God all our sins, without holding anything back or finding excuses. Let us speak with Him about the things we should have done but have not, about our selfishness, impure thoughts and words and acts, resentment and bitterness, and everything else that has polluted our hearts. Let’s trust in the redeeming blood of Jesus and enter a new stage in which we feel grateful and happy for the new birth we experienced, for the imputed righteousness of Christ and for the opportunity of being washed in His blood.
We want to see God – not only through the eyes of faith, but in His glory. We want to see Him come in the clouds of heaven, and to be always with Him in a place where there are only clean hearts, washed in the precious blood of the Son of God.
Let us pray and work to gain victory; let us cling to God’s promises. Let us serve with thankful hearts for what He has done, does now, and will do in our lives. Let us hear the echo of the Sermon on the Mount, from Jesus’ own lips, when He exclaimed, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”