This sermon is part of the sermon series "Beatitudes". See series.
Through the centuries there have been some people who have wanted to view Jesus' teaching in the Beatitudes as a kind of ladder that can carry us to heaven. If you are poor in spirit, you have passed the first rung. If you mourn, you have reached the second rung. If you are meek, you have come to the third rung, and so on. But then we come to the beatitude we are considering today and this whole approach breaks down. "Blessed are the pure in heart," Jesus says, "for they will see God." The system breaks down, not because we cannot understand Jesus' words, but because Jesus is entirely clear that our effort to climb into God's presence by way of this beatitude fails utterly. These words of Jesus pull the ladder out from under our feet and send us tumbling.
Purity of heart implies sincerity.
John Stott points out that Jesus' words in this beatitude have often been understood in terms of "inward purity." He notes that the popular interpretation is to regard purity of heart as an inner cleansing from moral defilement, as opposed to merely ceremonial cleansing. But Stott proposes that the core idea expressed in this statement has to do with singleness of heart. What Jesus portrays here is the "single self" as opposed to the divided self. It is the person who presents the true self to God and man.
If this is true, then the opposite of purity of heart is hypocrisy. John Stott describes the pure in heart this way, "Their very heart—including their thoughts and motives—is pure, unmixed with anything devious, ulterior, or base. Hypocrisy and deceit are abhorrent to them; they are without guile." What, then, must the hypocrite be like? We all know people who are hypocrites, and most of us are convinced that we ...
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