Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Sermon on the Mount
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Just what does the Lord mean when He says the “pure in heart”? The Scriptures tell us that the heart of man is wicked and always thinking about himself.

Jer.17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

So if that be the truth then how can a person’s heart be pure? A study of the Greek word “pure” ( καθαρός ) finds that the word indicates a genuine and sincere heart, and one that isn’t compromised by uncleanness or guile. It does not mean perfection, but it does indicate a surpassing level of authenticity and even transparency. It is that kind of child like sincerity that Christ describes when He uses the word pure.
This, my friends, is a challenge to all of us. We all deal with different kinds of hidden agendas, some known to us and some are hidden even to us. There are two primary ways to uncover our hearts and see if there is any compromise or selfishness in them - prayer and the mirror of God’s Word. And the believer who wishes the Spirit to filet his heart open before him must be willing to approach the Spirit with vulnerability and a rejection of any preconceived ideas about how pure his heart may or may not be.
And the fire of God is the only spiritual agent that is able and worthy of burning off the dross and double mindedness inside that mercurial area within us God calls the heart. Do not become legalistic and perfectionist about this issue since that will only immobilize you. I have seen people, although sincere, who see every little imperfection in their hearts as mountains which must be removed before they can even proceed on their spiritual walk. And since no one can be perfect, they usually become immobilized. I also have seen believers contend that their hearts are completely perfect and without sin, and you can guess where that leads. Self righteousness.
We can reject both of those extremes, however we can embrace the principle of that verse and pursue a heart that is pure. But even a pure heart must still rely on God’s grace since it is only by His power can we ever claim to be pure. So while we are wrapped in the grace of God, we enter into a personal inventory that is not by us but by God’s Spirit. It is good to remember that God does not wish to defeat us by correction and repentance, but His desire is to crystallize more clearly the image of Christ within and without. Another words, although correction is often painful and is a challenge to one’s “self esteem”, when it is the Spirit molding a believer in spiritual surgery it is all to the glory of God. And when that believer repents and is changed in an area, he himself experiences the renewing power of the Holy Spirit.
But listen as Christ reveals an amazing mystery that is so often ignored or at least diluted pragmatically. The Lord Jesus teaches that the pure in heart can see God. Wow. Not many believers are even looking to see God, so that narrows the field already. But to those who thirst to see the face of the Risen Christ, the pure heart is a prerequisite. Let us first define some terms. How many of us could say we heard the voice of God? Most of us have heard God speak to us in something other than an audible voice. So in the spirit God can speak through avenues other than an audible voice that can be picked up by the human ear.
The same is true about the face of God. Since God is a spirit He does not have a face as we would define a face, and when God uses the terms mouth, ears, eyes, voice, and other anthropomorphic terms it is for our benefit and understanding. But God still beckons us to see His face which means that there is a place in the spirit where God will reveal to a greater degree His character, His love, and all His attributes. And to the pure in heart God will pull back further and further the veil that reveals Who He is and the glory that defines Him. Does this not expose our present Christianity as utilitarian and pragmatic? Aren’t we guilty of ignoring the greater glories of knowing the Risen Christ and distilling the faith down to a “don’t lie - don’t steal” kind of Christianity? The present wastern Christian community models itself after Martha and often considers those who pursue Mary's place as too spiritual and mysterious.
We seem to have lost the thirst for the sacred and are content with the earthly. Benefits are described in the material and ignored in the spirit. And the hunger for a greater and more vivid revelation of Christ has all but disappeared since few are willing to spend the time in prayer necessary for the refiner’s fire to accomplish His work. Everyone would want to see God if He walked into a church service, but only a handful will seek Him in the night watches, fastings, and in the labor of the prayer closets.
But it all boils down to a pure heart. The fast paced western lifestyle has little room for patient and elongated time spent with an invisible deity. If that deity can enhance our lives then we give Him a limited audience that does not interfere with our plans and dreams. If this God can help my marriage, my parenting, and especially my finances then I will perform the minimum religious obligations in order to secure that which benefits me. That, my friends, is not the faith we call Christianity. That is nothing more than a self help program that manipulates Christ and His Word and turns it into a tool. The average believer uses Christ to change his circumstances without changing him.
But for the few that desire more than that shallow religious construct there lies ahead a glory that far surpasses anything here on earth. I cannot say with honesty that I walk everyday in that glory, but in 36 years I have indeed been transported to a realm in which I desired to stay forever. I have in special times been allowed to experience the presence of God in ways that cannot be communicated to anyone except those who have similar experiences. I realize that we do not depend upon those kind of experiences for our faith, but I also realize that we should not become complacent and satisfied with the mundane ecclesiastical expressions that all too often deny anything supernatural.
Are we just waiting to see God one day in eternity, or are we hungry to see glimpses that by God’s grace are available to us today? And if we are desirous to see and experience Him, then we must have a pure heart. And that can only happen through His power in prayer and the ministry of His glorious Word. The sermon on the Mount speaks to us today. Christ is calling us out of dependence upon programs, pragmatism, buildings and debt, preacher idols, endless seminars, and a Christianity that finds a convenient and unobtrusive place in our cluttered lifestyles.

God is searching for those who He can reveal Himself to; those with a pure heart.

1 comment:

Sei ermutigt said...

May all true believers keep on praying and studying fervently in order to see God, so that they can, hour by hour, reverence His pure sinless heart!

Yes, let's hunger and thirst to reverence the pure heart of the Risen Christ!

Yes, God beckons true believers to see His face which means that there is a place in the spirit where God will reveal to a greater degree His character, His love, and all His attributes.

Truly if we are desirous to honour God, then we must commit ourselves to having a pure, humble, god-honouring heart.

Precious readers, may a deep, deep hunger for a greater and more vivid revelation of Christ Jesus be your gracious reward from Our faithful,loving, compassionate God Triune!

Josef Sefton