By Phil Matarazzo
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 KJV).
In the last year I rediscovered Christian music. My wife can testify to it. I will have my head set on constantly listening to worship songs. Since I’ve been listening to Christian music and worshiping more often I’ve been connecting more with God. I’ll watch a baseball game listening to worship songs with the TV on mute, and in no time get bored with the game and turn it off. That’s huge. I Have been working on a paper, “Why Right Being Is Better Than Right Doing.” I ask you, “what do you think is more powerful, more important, performing for God, or being in His presence?”
I’m a performer, and as long as I can remember always have been. Performing comes natural to me. I have decided to intentionally practice being in the presence of God before I perform for Him. I started by listening to worship music. My findings are astonishing. I found out that He, more than anything else desires my presence. He desires to be with me, and desires that I have a pure heart, His heart. Since these revelations my prayer life has deepen and I have become more devoted to His purpose, mainly the interceding in praying for the oppressed, the wounded, the sick, and the lost. My heart is heavier than its ever been, and it’s because I’m now feeling His pain and suffering.
It’s not easy for me to be still and take on all that pain, but it feels so good to be so close to Him. I’m even feeling more connected to myself. I truly desire to be pure in heart. I guess that’s what I’ve always wanted, but somehow got caught up in pretending and performing. My priorities are changing. Doing is good and needed, but being in His presence is better and essential for maturity. I’ve since learned that the heart is purified through confession, repentance and forgiveness. And is kept pure through humility, and sanctification.
If you have a desire to see God you must be pure in heart
“It is safe to tell the pure of heart that they shall see God, for only the pure of heart want to.” C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
To see God simply means to be in His awesome presence, to experience His majestic glory, and to be comforted by His mercy, grace and unconditional love. The Greek word for “pure” in Matthew 5:8 is Katharos. meaning to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.” The word can refer specifically to that which is purified or by pruning. John the Baptist told people that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11). Malachi speaks of the Messiah as being like a “refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:2). Jesus refers to believers as being the branches and to Himself as being the vine (John 15:1-17). For a branch to produce fruit it must derive life from the vine and be pruned. Those who are truly “pure,” are those who have been declared innocent because of the work of Jesus and who are being sanctified by the refining Word of God, and being refined by fire and by His pruning. KJV Dictionary Definition—“prune”: “To lop or cut off the superfluous branches of trees, to make them bear better fruit or grow higher, or to give them a more handsome and regular appearance.”
What does it mean to be pure in heart?
Soren Kierkegaard wrote a book called “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing.” That is not a bad definition, provided that the one thing we will is the glory of God. Lets take it from a man after God’s own heart, King David. I think it’s a good place to begin. Lets read Psalm 24:3,4, it parallels Mathew 5:8. “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god” (Psalm 24:3,4 NIV).
A pure heart is a heart that has nothing to do with falsehood or pretending or performing. A pure heart is a heart that above all lives a sanctified life, a life that has been set apart to do the will of its Master. A pure heart is not hypocritical, cunning, manipulative and/or deceitful in any way. Purity of heart is to will one thing, namely, to “seek the face of the lord.” “Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob” (Psalm 24:6 NIV). James 4:8 gives us a similar description on purity of heart. This is one of my favorite verses and one I quote often. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8 ESV).
Stop pretending your life away
“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 (clean your heart first), and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:25,26 NIV). Parenthesis mine.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees that Jesus addressed here were pretending to be spiritual and righteous. Jesus rebuked them, called them hypocrites. They were pretending to be someone their not. Please don’t do that, if you do you will only be hurting yourself. If you are pure in heart you won’t have anything to hide. This is why it is so important to have God examine your heart daily (Psalm 139:23,24). The aim of Jesus is to purify our hearts, this way we will have nothing to hide. We will be free of guilt, shame, self-judgment, and self-condemnation. The greek word for “heart” in (Matthew 5:8) is Kardeeah. This can be applied to the physical heart. But it also refers to the spiritual center of life. It is where thoughts, desires, sense of purpose, will, understanding, and character reside. So pure in heart means to be blameless in who we actually are.
Are you walking in purity before the Lord? Have you ever allowed God the liberty to reveal Himself to you?
Is there anything in your life which is keeping you from being sensitive to and discerning God as he reveals Himself to you? Have you ever been so close to God’s heart that you heard it beat? By purifying your heart God will reveal Himself. Through Him revealing Himself and having Him purify your heart your character will be more authentic, not merely superficial. Not merely pretending and performing. Jesus would be more satisfied knowing you desire to attain a pure heart than merely putting on a show, or putting on a performance.
Purifying the heart involves having a singleness of heart toward God. A pure heart is a heart that has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. A pure heart is marked by transparency, vulnerability, humility, and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. It is more than an external purity of behavior, it is internal purity of soul. Are you walking in purity before God, and if not, why? Oswald Chambers asks this question. “Has God’s Word ever come to you, pointing out an area of your life, requiring you to yield it to Him?”
Above all else, guard your heart
“Be careful with what seeds you allow to take root in the garden of your heart, not all seeds bear good fruit.” Author Unknown
The heart is crucial to our Lord. What we are in the deeper parts of our existence is what He cares most about. He desires to transform our heart in making it beat as one with His. Jesus knows that out of the heart flows life, in fact, He recommends that above all else we guard our hearts. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV). Our hearts are full of all sorts of things, both good and bad. The makeup of life flows out of the heart, this is why king David asked God to create in him a “pure heart,” and to “renew a stedfast spirit in him.” That is my hearts desire, what is your hearts desire?
There is so much we can ask for, and honestly I want it all. I want knowledge, understanding, wisdom, joy, peace, rest, a willing spirit, I want to be used by Him, and salvation is always my main concern, for I most desire spending eternity with God, but after salvation my hearts desire is to have God create in me a “pure heart” and continually renewing in me a “steadfast spirit.”
Here are three definitions on the word “pure”: “not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material; without any extraneous and unnecessary elements; free of any contamination.” To define steadfast is to be: “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.” Synonyms look like this; “loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, determined, trusty, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid, unchanging, relentless, single-minded, unyielding, uncompromising.” That’s what I want God to create in me, so that I can be in His presence morning, noon and night. I even desire Him to be present in my dreams. My hearts desire is to be a man after God’s heart. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV). I’m seeking a heart to heart relationship.
God desires us to love him with all we have
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV).
God is the one who makes your heart pure, and your spirit steadfast, just give Him permission. For you are His child, and He will joyfully give you good gifts. He is waiting for you to ask, to seek, and to knock. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7 NIV). I have this truth to hold on to, that Jesus can and will create in me a pure heart, and a steadfast spirit, just as He is pure and steadfast. See for yourself the great love He has lavished on you, for we are truly His children.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we shall 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. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify yourselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3 NIV).