Sermon – The Beatitudes: Pure in Heart (Matthew 5:1 – 5:12) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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The Beatitudes

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The Beatitudes: Pure in Heart

James March, Matthew 5:1 - 5:12, 21 February 2021

James continues our series in 'The Beatitudes' in Matthew 5:1-12, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God". In passage we see what it means to be "pure in heart" and our sure hope in Jesus to make us pure.

Matthew 5:1 - 5:12

5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

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

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Please take your seats. And if you have a bible, please open it up to Matthew Chapter 5. Just going to be a first of 2 readings for tonight. Matthew Chapter 5 from verse 1. Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.

His disciples came to him and he began to teach them. He said, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Bless are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed of the meek for they will inherit the earth. Blessed of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.

Blessed of the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Blessed of the pure in heart for they will see God. Blessed of the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Lester to those who have persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs, is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven. But in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Our second reading is going to be from 1 John, Chapter 3, just versus 1 to 3. See what great 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. 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 themselves, just as he is pure. Let me extend my welcome to you.

It's good to see you all. It's good to be back at the hub. Welcome to you all the the at home as well. Before we start, let's pray. Together.

Heavenly father, we thank you for your your word. We thank you. That you speak to us. And we ask now that you would help us to listen to you, to to what you're saying. To us tonight.

Look, give us is to hear. Give us receptive hearts, please. Please show us wondrous things in your law and stir up in us worship and praise of your name and please, lord God, would you stir us up to be pure even as you are pure? In Jesus' name, we pray. Men.

Okay. So tonight, we're continuing a series going through the beatitudes. These sort of first statements that Jesus makes in his sermon on the mount in in Matthew's Gospel. So just to fill you in again in case you've missed a few of these, what these beatitudes are. They're They're really pronouncements by Jesus that a certain kind of person is is blessed.

And he says what the blessing is. Who are these people? Who is blessed? As Christians, Jesus is describing disciples. He's describing his followers.

Believers. He's describing what his followers, what believers, the blessed ones are like. So he outlines their their characteristics, their qualities, and he declares, he proclaims particular blessings. That they have. So tonight, we're in the sixth beatitude.

This is the sixth 1 in the series. The sixth pronouncement of blessings. So here it is again, blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. The characteristic of the 1 who is blessed is that they're pure in heart. And then the particular blessing that Jesus says that they have is that they will see God.

So kind of by by way of introduction, let's focus on that blessing. A little bit, for they will see God. That is a glorious blessing. They will see God. What an astonishing statement, that is by the Lord Jesus.

He's saying that they'll see the glorious, holy, Almighty, eternal creator God. They'll see the 1 who's holy, holy, holy, lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. It's perhaps a little strange because God is apparently sidelined and irrelevant in our world, isn't he? But really, what this beatitude is saying is that God is central. God is is all important.

So this beatitude is is driving us to the centrality of God. And what does it mean to see Him? What does it mean to see God? Well, really, to see God means to be kind of admitted into his presence. It's another way of saying to be with God.

Back in in the first lockdown, just as things were beginning to ease, and lockdown was being loosened up. I hadn't seen and my family hadn't seen my mom and dad. For probably 6 months or so. And the restrictions were opening up. As soon as we could, we we made an arrangement to to meet.

I got on the phone and I said, we wanna see you. And I didn't mean by that. I I wanna look at a picture of you. I I just wanna, you know, see the photographs. I meant, we wanna be with you.

We wanna come and spend some time with you. And in this beatitude, when Jesus says they will see God, he's saying that the 1 who is blessed will be with God. Right now, in this life, we see kind of in a glass darkly. Don't we? We see god in nature.

We see god in history. We see God in his Word, we see his son, and we know him, and we enjoy his presence. Through faith, we see him in in all of these things. But the day is coming when we won't see through faith. We won't see in a glass darkly.

We'll see him face to face. Now, when I was invited to preach tonight, The first thing I did, received a little message from Tom, and he told me the passage And the first thing I did was to look up the verse and think about what it said. And my instinctive reaction to to reading this beatitude was I want that. I want to see God I want to be with God. I wonder when, you know, we read it back a few minutes ago, Did you think similarly?

Did you think that same sort of thought? Did that pop into your head? Was that your reaction? It was my reaction initially, but then I was drawn to the first half of the verse. And I saw that it is the pure in heart who will see God.

That means that the impure in heart will not see God. The impure in heart will not be with God. So to be pure in heart is necessary before I can see God. It's a prerequisite. That's a hard word.

I shouldn't have tried that 1, but purity of heart is necessary. God is pure. The pure cannot be mixed with the impure. God wouldn't endure to lurk on the impure. But also, the impure won't be satisfied with a pure God.

They won't endure to look upon God's purity. It will repost them. They'll want nothing of this purity So we must be like God to see God. To be in his pure presence, we must be pure. So I started wondering, am I pure in hearts?

It's an important question, isn't it? If you want the blessing, if you want to see God surely, it's the most essential question that you could ask. And it didn't take me long to conclude that by myself, by nature, I'm not pure in heart. Proverbs 20 verse 9 says, Who can say, I have kept my heart pure. I am clean and without sin.

I can't say that. Can you? Can you say I've kept my heart pure? If we grasp even a little bit of what Jesus is saying in that beatitude, then we have to be left feeling this sense of inadequacy. An insufficiency, we don't meet the qualification.

Do we? We might say with the disciples who then can be saved. Who then can see God? How is it possible for someone with an impure heart like me to have any hope that they will see God. I have that hope that I'll see God.

But how is it possible that I can have any hope like that when I have an impure heart? Jesus' answer to the question, how then can we be saved? Would be with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. It's the Lord's free sovereign grace, that's the answer to my impurity of heart. And it's the answer to yours as well.

The grace of God is why it's possible for someone like me with an impure heart to have any hope that I'll see God. And that's what really This message is all about apart from the last little bit. We're gonna be thinking about that, thinking about the heart, thinking about impurity of heart, and purity of heart, and how it is possible that the impure of heart can have this blessing that will see God, that will see Him. So let's think about the heart, this is the next thing. Now, the heart's obviously an organ, the body, it's this amazing, which sheen in our chest, it's fascinating.

It's wonderful. But when we think about the heart often, we're just using it as a metaphor, aren't we? For all sorts of things, we we might talk about someone's character. So she has a good heart, means, well, she's kind. Like Tabitha, or we use heart to describe feelings or emotions, where those things come from, we talk about hearts leaping for joy, or our hearts being broken because of grief, or of a change of heart.

Heart also means the most important thing or the the inner most part of something. So we talk so talk about the heart of the city. Eggam isn't the heart of the city. It's not very important at all, really. Scripture has all sorts of things to say about the heart.

The Hebrew and the Greek words for heart, they they used hundreds of times. In the bible, combined probably over a thousand times, but we're not gonna go through all of them. It's the central concern of the old and the new testaments. It was the central concern of Jesus, the heart. He talks about the heart a lot.

Now, it's really important to know that the bible, when it's talking about the heart, It isn't talking about it in terms of the emotional life. Scripture uses the heart, as kind of the the center of who we are. It's the core of who we are. It's actually what makes us who we are. The heart is the spring out of which everything else comes.

So Proverbs 4 23 wants us to guard or keep our hearts carefully because from it flows the springs of life. Everything we do flows out to the heart, like water flows out of a spring. So we think, and we will, and we desire, and we feel, and we have emotions because of our hearts. Our hearts give rise to those things. We speak the way we do.

Because of our hearts. Jesus said, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Jesus, he was speaking at the pharisees at that point, and his point was that they couldn't speak good things. The Pharisees. They're actually saying that all the good things that Jesus was doing was was because of evil and because of beelzebub.

It's not a very good thing to say, is it? So he's saying they couldn't speak good things because they had evil hearts. So We also do and act the way we do because of our hearts as well. All the issues of life They flow. All the things that we do and are they flow out of the heart.

Now, we could respond to the heart in all sorts of different ways. People in society might respond to their hearts by trying to restrain their hearts. That's 1 way. They try and kind of curb it or alter it or stop the flow of life that's coming out of the heart. You know, like children when they build a dam on the river and they try and stop it and they wanna change the course, it's that same sort of thing.

And this is done by a focus on the the sort of external life. Lots of different things do this. So we put our faith in in education, to educate the heart, or social concern to try and bend the heart and and and deal with the heart. It's actually what religion does as well as as 1 example. Someone tries to fit their lives or others other people's lives, according to a like a a pattern of what they perceive as as right.

That's what the Phares did in Jesus' day. They're focused on external behavior, how they lived outwardly. For example, the pharisees didn't commit adultery. They're actually very good at not doing that. Right?

They're really careful, and they wanted the rest of society to be the same. The trouble with that kind of outward religion though is that it ignores the heart, and it ignores what's really going on. In the heart. And that was Jesus' big problem with the pharisees at that at that point. The pharisees would have been happy with a society where there were no acts of adultery.

They'd been happy with that. But Jesus wouldn't have been happy with that. He wouldn't have been satisfied with a society like that. Jesus makes it clear later on in the sermon on the man that adultery is a heart issue. He says that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Adultery is a heart issue. Jesus is concerned with the heart. It's not enough to just clean up on the outside. The heart needs to be dealt with. No lust in the heart.

So the great problem with just focusing on the outward behavior is that it doesn't actually fix the heart at all. But another way that people respond to the heart, and this is really common in our culture, is to embrace it, embrace the heart. Find the real you. Be the real you. Be true to the real you.

Love the real you. Love yourself. That pursuit of self love is probably 1 of, if not, the most dominant philosophies of our age. And in that philosophy, truly good. The truly good person has is the 1 who's learned to love themselves, and a truly good person has learned to let others love themselves as well.

And that philosophy is everywhere. You know, there's You see it in all sorts of different media platforms. It's in books and children's books. Naomi and I, we were talking the other day. We discovered this this book called Red crayon.

And Red crayon actually is a blue crayon, and he has to learn to love himself because he's a blue crayon. Bizarre. It's in films, and TV, and magazines, and music, and computer games and social media. It's everywhere. The film frozen is actually all about this.

Frozen is about Elsa embracing who she really is, coming to see who she really is, and then everyone else in that place where she lives coming to love her for who she is as well. The film, the Matrix, Naomi and I, we rewatched the Matrix a couple of weeks ago, came out in 19 99, and it was amazing when it came out, and we wanted to see whether it stood up, whether it it was just rubbish now because it was just out of date, you know, all the CGI and stuff. It does stand up largely. But the matrix is all about this too. The Matrix is all about this character, Neo.

When I first saw the Matrix, I thought Neo, all the way through the film, I hear his name is Neil. And I was thinking, why why is he called Neil? 1, Neil. The film is about him coming to know who he really is. It's about him believing in himself.

Embracing who he really is is the 1. It's what that movie's all about. As a American author and journalist, this woman Anna Quindlen, And she says, each of you is as different as your fingertips. Why should you march to any lockstep? Our love of lockstep is our greatest curse, the source of all that bedevils us.

It's the source of homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, terrorism, bigotry of every variety in hue. Because it tells us that there is 1 way to do things, to look, to behave, to feel. When the only right way is to feel your heart hammering inside you and to listen to what its timpani is saying. I think that word is timpani. I was saying it as timpani all week and and Nomi's like No.

It's not that. Timpony. Timpony is a big drum, so there's a rhythm of a timpony. Rhythm of your heart. And what Quindlen is really saying is love yourself, embrace your heart.

Listen to what your heart's Timpony is saying, it's rhythm and livid. Now that gives the heart an awful lot of credit, doesn't it? The great problem with that you know, the bible's problem with that, really, is is the nature of the heart. The Bible's analysis of the true nature of the heart is that it's evil, and wicked, and deceitful. Jesus said this about the heart in in Matthew 15 verse 19.

Out of the heart, come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. Jesus and the Scriptures, they just emphasize all our problems come from the heart. Which is corrupted by sin. So our troubles they lie at the center of our being. It's the core of our being is evil, wicked and deceitful.

If that's the case, why embrace my heart? Why would I do that? Why would I listen to its its timpani, to its rhythm? Well, that's the heart. What about purity of heart?

What does that mean? What is it to be pure in heart? Well first, We need to be clear on what's meant by pure. Pure is different to clean. They're similar, but they're not the same.

Yesterday on Moramix, this sort of weekly quiz that some of us do. There was a question that was something like I got to the end of Moramix. I forgot the question. But it was something like how many carrots are there in pure gold? So you know, there's 12 carrots and 18 carrots and 24 carrots.

How many carrots are there in pure gold? And the answer was 24 carrots. 100 percent pure gold is 24 carats. So to be a hundred percent pure, it needs to be unmixed. All gold.

It's single. Okay? It's pure. In pure gold is not a hundred percent. It's anything less than that.

So 12 carat gold is 50 percent pure. There's all sorts of other metals in there as well. So it's double or it's triple So what is it to be pure in heart? Well, some 24 this 3 to 6 that helps us with this. It's basically the old testament version of the beatitude.

That says, who may ascend the mountain of the Lord who may stand in his holy presence. That's its way of saying, see God, be with God. The 1 who has clean hands and a pure heart who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the lord, and vindication from God, their savior, such as the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face. Gard of Jacob.

Thus 4, there it connects pure hearts with having having nothing to do with what is false. So swear by false God, it said in in that version, it's probably better translated swear falsely or swear deceitfully. What's that getting at? The impure heart is deceitful. What the Imperial Hut does is that it it kind of wills 1 thing, and then it wants everyone to think It wills that everyone will think about you something different.

So it's double willed, it's fragmented, The pure heart is different. The pure heart is single. It wills 1 thing, and it wills that people think that you do the same thing. It's single. It's not double.

And in Psalm 24, that singleness is directed towards God. The 1 thing, the pure heart wills is to seek the face of God. Jesus sums 5 at best, he's defining what the greatest commandment is. And he says, love the Lord of God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love God with all of your heart.

Not part of it, all of it. Such a heart isn't double, it's not divided, it's single. There's no divided loyalties or split allegiances. 1 thing is willed, and that's God. That kind of heart, it isn't interested in self love.

It isn't interested in listening to its its own timpani. Such a heart is consumed with God, and it delights to listen to God's timpani. And to keep in step with him. And those with such access single and living to glorify God in all things. So in view of all of that, does that describe you?

Are you pure in heart Because that's the kind of purity of heart that's required to see God. I'm not pure in heart. So how can I see God? That doesn't describe me. The good news is that God knows all of that, and he doesn't treat us like our impure hearts deserve.

He gives grace. So the sovereign grace of God is the answer to my impurity of heart. And yours, that's why it's possible for someone with an impure heart like me to have any hope that they will see God. Because he does the impossible. He purifies hearts.

That's 1 reason why Jesus came and died and rose again. Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection, he purchased our purity of heart. For us. Titus 2 verse 14 says, Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness, and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. So Jesus gave himself on the cross to redeem our impure hearts.

Jesus gave himself on the cross to purify a people with hearts that are his very own that are single and devoted to him. If you're a Christian today, here listening at home, That's true of you. Jesus has redeemed your heart and purified your hearts. And you meet the requirement of the beatitude. You are blessed.

You are pure of heart. You will see God That's the way he looks at you. And my encouragement to you would be to believe that. Receive this purification by faith. Cling to Jesus and his work to purify your heart.

So objectively in God's sight, followers of Jesus, have pure hearts. That's a gift of grace that he gives to us and it's received by faith. And that means that we can have confidence, that we will seek God, that we will enjoy the presence of God forever. But we know, don't we, really, that our hearts are impure still. They are divided.

We love Jesus, but we also love a whole lot of other things as well. So what should we do? We'll purify your hearts. This is the last, at the last 0.1 John 3 verse 2 to 3, it speaks to this. It says, John says, 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 will see him as he is.

All who have this hope in him purified themselves just as he is pure. John is reminding us that Jesus is coming back. We will see him as he is, and when we see him, we'll be like him. He is pure, and so we will become pure. Our hearts will be pure and utterly single in their devotion to God.

And John says, if that's your hope, then purify yourself now. Be like him now. Pureify yourselves now because He is pure. So if our hope, if our desire and our longing is to see God, surely our greatest concern will be to have a pure heart now. John's point is, get prepared.

So how can we prepare? Much could be said, I have 2 quick suggestions. Firstly, cry out to God that he would unite your divided and fragmented heart. In Psalm 86, David prays, give me an undivided heart or unite my heart that I might fear your name. It's asking for a pure heart, isn't he?

A single heart a united heart. So like David, plead for God to unite your fragmented heart. Pray that your heart would be united and pure. That your heart would be increasingly singular in devotion and love for him. Pray that.

Secondly, and lastly, look at Jesus. 1 John 3, verse 2 says, when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we will see him as he is. We'll see him as pure, we'll become pure. Now that that's future, but it the same is true now, really. As we look at Jesus now, we're transformed into the same image.

So look at him. Look at him. At who he is. Look at his glory, Look at his purity and his singleness of heart. Look at the glory of his work of redemption.

Look at his cross and his resurrection. And you'll be transformed into that same image. Make it your priority to look at him to spend time gazing at Christ, read and meditate on the gospels and the rest of scripture. As we do that, we'll see them as pure, and increasingly, I think, will become pure. Because we'll we'll see him as he is.

Let's pray. Heavenly father, we ask that you would deepen this hope and this desire this longing to see you in us. Lord stir it up all the more. We ask that you would stir up a desire in us to have a pure heart to be singular in devotion to you, to love you with everything that we are. Look, please, would you unite our hearts?

Would you make them whole? And please help us to see Christ. And as we look at him, may you conform us to his image? In Jesus' name, amen,

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