This is our final installment on Matthew 5:8. Let’s read it one more time as we begin: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. In our study we have provided definitions and some applications of Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the pure in heart”. But, as with the other beatitudes, Jesus links the character of the Christian with a blessing.
- Why are the “pure in heart” blessed? Jesus says “for they shall see God”. What does Jesus mean by this? How and when do the pure in heart see God?
note: The Bible teaches that every person will one day “see God”. Rev. 1:7 states that when Jesus returns “every eye” will see Him. But the promise that Jesus makes here is only to those who are pure in heart, not to everyone. This “seeing” has a more limited interpretation. In this context “seeing” God is for Christians who are pure in heart and is a blessing or favor to be conferred.
I. Seeing God – As with the other beatitudes, there is both a future and present fulfillment of the blessing. We hope to see God in the future; the pure in heart will also see God now. The Greek word for “see” is in the future indicative tense and the middle voice, and a more literal translation is, “They shall be continuously seeing God for themselves.” How can the pure heart see God now?
The word may be used figuratively in at least two ways: perception & possession.
A. Perception: It can denote “to perceive, recognize, or experience”. You make a point to someone and ask, “Don’t you see that?” We are using the physical sense of sight to mean perception.
1. Jesus spoke of those whom he personally taught as seeing and yet not seeing, and hearing and yet not hearing (Matt. 13:12-13). This unwillingness to see, or understand what He was saying was a problem of their impure heart.
2. Compare Paul’s description of the pagan society of the first century… Rom 1:21 – because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. A senseless heart is one that cannot perceive (as our senses allow us to evaluate our surroundings). Because they could not see God in the things that were around them, their hearts (minds) were darkened. They could not see what was there to see. D.R. Dungan suggested that the term refers to recognizing God in all the wonders of his creation (Hermeneutics, 18).
a. The pure heart can see God because he is looking to please God. Those who are not interested in pleasing God will not understand what God reveals. If his heart is prepared (good & honest) it will receive the seed and produce a harvest. (Luke 8 )
b. A pure heart is synonymous with what Jesus calls a “single” (KJV) or “clear” (NKJV margin) eye in Matthew 6:22-23 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! The pure heart is the window of the mind and allows us to see God more clearly.
- John MacArthur states… If our hearts are encumbered with material concerns they become “blind” and insensitive to spiritual concerns. The eye is like a window which, when clear, allows light to shine through, but, when dirty, or bad, prevents light from entering. …The eye that is bad is the heart that is selfishly indulgent. The person who is materialistic and greedy is spiritually blind. Because he has no way of recognizing true light, he thinks he has light when he does not. What is thought to be light is therefore really darkness, and because of the self-deception, how great is the darkness!
c. Purity of heart cleanses the eyes of the soul so that God becomes visible. There are no distractions or competing allegiances. John 3:19-20 – 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
d. Job 42:5 – 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. What does Job mean? He had come to know God Himself more intimately through the experience of His suffering.
B. Possession: The word “see” can also mean to experience or possess. Consider the word “see” in these verses:
- John 3:36 – 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” To “see” life is to possess it or experience it.
- John 3:3-5 – 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Comparing vs. 3 with vs. 5 shows us that “seeing” the kingdom is “entering” it.
1. Therefore, to see God can mean to possess or obtain the blessings that He gives. In contrast to this, the Bible speaks of those who do not see God because He hides his face from them. Again this is figurative language that depicts the remocal of God’s blessings or protection. Deut 31:16-17 – 16 And the Lord said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day,’ Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’
C. Presence: The most obvious connotation of the word “see” is presence or proximity. That which can be seen is in close proximity or in our presence. That which cannot be seen is far away. So to “see” God is to be in His presence.
1. This is at the heart of the concept of holiness in scripture. Who can come into the presence of God? Who can see God? Only those who are pure. The O.T. tabernacle was the place of God’s presence in Israel, but God was hidden from view. The impure could not come near or see Him unless they were purified by the offering of blood.
2. the writer of Hebrews typifies the hope of the Christian as an anchor, sure and stedfast which enters the presence behind the veil (Heb. 6:19). Through the blood of Jesus we can come into the very presence of God.
II. Desiring to “See God” . Above all things, those who are pure in heart desire to see God. Martin Lloyd Jones says to ‘see God’ is the whole purpose of all religion”. (p 106). Do you want to see God one day? Do you want to see God today?
A. Titus 2:11-13 – 1 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
1. The phrase “looking for” means not only longing and waiting but also of eager and certain expectation. (MacArthur, comments on Tit. 2:13) The pure heart of the Christian longs for the presence of God. Psalm 42:1-2 – As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? In fact it is only the pure heart that could possibly want to see God or have confidence in presence. John says we can have boldness in the day of judgment because as He is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17)
a. 2 Tim 4:7-8 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. Paul desired to see God. It is obvious that Paul was not glorying in his own merit. He declared often that he was saved by grace, not his own works (Eph. 2:8-10), But his confidence was based on the life that he had lived. His pure heart gave him the desire to see God.
B. The apostle John writes… – Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3) These words clearly connect with Matthew 5:8 in two ways:
1. The hope of seeing God belongs to those who are His children. And this hope is certain. When He is revealed we WILL see Him as He is. Jesus states with absolute certainty that the pure in heart WILL see God. Our future presence with God is not some “pie-in-the-sky pipe dream. If we have faith, we must believe that we will see God. John 14:1-4 – “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
2. Just as Jesus in Matthew 5, John also tells us that our hope of seeing God is connected to our purity.
a. Jesus’ words make purity of heart the reason for the hope of seeing Jesus. Unless we are pure in heart we will not see God. Isn’t that the implication of Jesus’ statement? “For they shall see God.” We can only be made pure through the forgiveness of Jesus’ blood. Eph 2:13 – 3 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. … Vs. 18 – 8 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. We can see God because of what God does for us.
b. John’s words make the hope of seeing God the reason for becoming pure. “He that has this hope in him purifies himself” John assumes the positional purity of forgiveness and admonishes the Christian. If we desire to see God we live pure lives.
c. Purity of heart provides the possibility to see God; and the possibility of seeing God provides the motivation to be pure in heart.
Conclusion: “Jesus’ challenge is simply: One writer asks… ‘How badly do you want to see God?’ Are you willing, then, to open up your inmost thoughts, your best-hidden desires, and your secret designs for the inspection of God? How happy is that man who so lives that at any moment he could bare his heart to the eye of God without shame. Who is willing to pay this price to enter the kingdom?” (Fowler p. 219).
David expressed his absolute confidence in the day when he would see God. Ps 17:15 – 15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
- Do you want to see God? Then you must be pure in heart. The heart is cleansed through the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ is accessed through faith. Faith is made complete in obedience to the commands of God. Mark 16:16 – 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.