Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8)
The Scriptures tell us that “no one can see [God] and live” (Exodus 33:20) and that “no one has seen or can see” Him (1 Timothy 6:16). So something quite extraordinary must take place for Jesus to promise that some will “see God.” The prerequisite, it appears, is a pure heart. Those who have a pure heart are, as Tasker explains, “the single-minded, who are free from the tyranny of a divided self, and who do not try to serve God and the world at the same time. From such it is impossible that God should hide Himself.”
The “heart,” in the Bible refers to your will, the choices you make, “and so to be pure in heart means that the decisions one makes, the desires one has, the thoughts and intentions of the will, are untarnished by sin, and that the will is determined to be pleasing to God.”
But our hearts are not naturally that way. There must be a change in us. Ezekiel describes this exchange when he says, “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” (Ezekiel 36:26). This is what happens when we come to Jesus for salvation. He removes the old heart—the heart focused on the things of this world, and gives us a new heart that longs for Him. He gives us that holiness without which “no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
As Gregory Brown says, “At salvation, purity of heart begins; God gives us a new nature and new desires—desires to pursue him and obey him. This is one of the ways that we know that we are saved.” Of course, in this life we will never be completely free from our sinful desires. We must be constantly aware of our shortcomings, and keep an open heart toward God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Are you willing to keep your heart pure before God? Are you willing for Him to do whatever it takes to purify you? Billy Graham explains, “If we are truly pure in our hearts, we will have a single-minded devotion to the will of God. Our motives will be unmixed, our thoughts will not be adulterated with those things which are not right. And our hearts will be clean, because we will not tolerate known sin in our hearts and allow it to pollute us.”
When our hearts are purified, we begin to “see” God all around us. We can see Him in creation. Psalm 19 is often quoted in this context, but look at Psalm 29!
“The voice of the Lords is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters…. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;… the voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire (lightning?)… The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness (thunder? earthquakes?)… The Lord sits enthroned over the flood.” Clearly the psalmist saw the Lord in everything around him!
In the words of an old hymn,
This is my Father’s world, And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; His hand the wonders wrought.
But there’s another way we will “see God,” one that won’t happen until we receive our new uncorruptible bodies. We see glimpses of Him in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 1. This is what we have to look forward to when we shall see Him face to face!
Isaiah 6:1-4: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
Revelation 1:12-16: I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
What a glorious time that will be. But first, do you have a pure heart? James M. Boice cautions,
“Only God can cleanse your heart from its impurities. David knew this and prayed, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me’ (Ps. 51:10). God does that for all who believe on Jesus Christ. He does it judicially in the moment of our belief. He does it practically during the moments of our earthly life as we yield to the gentle urging of His Holy Spirit. He will do it finally and completely in the moment of our death as we are then purified from all evil and brought without spot into His holy presence.”
Have you searched your heart? Has God exchanged your heart of stone for a heart of flesh? Are your eyes open to see God all around you as you wait for that day when we shall see Him as He is? What do you think about the phrase Blessed Are the Pure in Heart? How is God speaking to you?
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 R.V.G. Tasker, ed., Matthew, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1961, 1983), p. 62.
 Gregory Brown, The Beatitudes: Growing in Kingdom Character (BTG Publishing, Kindle Edition. Used by permission of the Tyndale House Foundation), p. 90.
 Billy Graham, The Secret of Happiness (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2011), p. 104.
 Maltbie Davenport Babcock, “This is My Father’s World,” 1901.
 James M. Boice, The Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 54.