“Blessed are the pure in heart”
(Matthew 5:8 – Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.)
The sixth beatitude, or promise of blessing, is another simple but profound statement made by Christ. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” The Strong’s Concordance defines the word “pure” as to be “free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt.”1 It is only through becoming pure in heart that a person can see God. To understand this better, Strong’s Concordance defines “heart” to mean, “the centre of all physical and spiritual life; the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors.”1 Putting these two definitions together we see that Christ is telling us that until that innermost part of a person is purified, they will not be able to see God.
But how does a person become pure in heart? The prophet Ezekiel prophesized in the Old Testament of what God would do for His people in the new covenant (the New Testament). Ezekiel 36:26 reads, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” The Bible tells us that this change of heart takes place when a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior by way of repentance. The passage in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 explains that repentance must be done with godly sorrow – meaning a person must be heartfelt in their approach when seeking a relationship with God. All of this takes faith, but when a person believes what the Bible says in Matthew 1:21, that Jesus will save from sin, and goes on to repent, their sins will be forgiven and washed away. In that very same transaction, they will also receive a spiritual heart change. The old stony heart with evil desires, appetites and affections will be removed and a new heart of flesh will be given, transforming them into “…a new creature, old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new” -2 Corinthians 5:17.
The experience of receiving salvation through Christ is the greatest miracle a person can ever experience in their life. The word salvation means “deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption”.2 We can read a description of this great deliverance in Colossians 1:12, “Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Continuing in this chapter, we read in verse 21, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” This passage beautifully illustrates how through repentance, a person is qualified to be a partaker of the inheritance of the children of God, and they are translated out of the spiritual kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of light. There is also a reconciliation to God that takes place when a person receives deliverance from sin. 1 Peter 1:22 says, (speaking of those who have repented and been born again) “Seeing ye have purified your hearts in obeying the truth through the spirit…”. This chapter discusses how a person that has been redeemed by the blood of Christ has had a purifying work done to their heart.
When Christ said “Blessed are the pure in heart…” He was addressing people who were very conscientious about being clean on the outside, and in many cases, very unconcerned about the cleanliness of the inside. Christ issued a warning to the scribes and Pharisees on this issue in Matthew 23:25-28, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Here, in this account, Christ tells them to first cleanse the inside, that the outside may be clean as a result. The inner cleansing of salvation is a wonderful blessing, and we know that when a person is made clean on the inside, the outward will naturally follow. Christ also pointed out the great hypocrisy of making public outward statements of cleanliness while all the while being full of uncleanness.
The blessing pronounced in this beatitude is that a person that is pure in heart will see God. What does it mean to see God? Albert Barnes Commentary puts it this way: “There is a sense in which all will see God, Revelation 1:7. That is, they will behold him as a Judge, not as a Friend. In this place it is spoken of as a special favor. So also, in Revelation 22:4, ‘And they shall see his face.’ To see the face of one, or to be in the presence of any one, were terms among the Jews expressive of great favor. It was regarded as a high honor to be in the presence of kings and princes, and to be permitted to see them, Proverbs 22:29, ‘He shall stand before kings.’ See also 2 Kings 25:19, ‘Those that stood in the king’s presence;’ in the Hebrew, those that saw the face of the king; that is, who were his favorites and friends. So here, to see God, means to be his friends and favorites, and to dwell with him in his kingdom.”3
Adam Clarke’s Commentary says: “Shall see God – This is a Hebraism, which signifies, possess God, enjoy his felicity: as seeing a thing, was used among the Hebrews for possessing it. See Psalm 16:10. Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption, i.e., he shall not be corrupted. So, John 3:3; Except a man be born again, he cannot See the kingdom of God, i.e. he cannot enjoy it. So, John 3:16. He that believeth not the Son, shall not See life, i.e. shall not be put in possession of eternal glory.”4
We can gather from this insight that this “seeing” of God is actually referring to having access to the presence of God. Referring back to the reading in Colossians 1:21, the pure in heart are no longer alienated from God, but have been reconciled as a result of the purifying of the heart. This reconciliation allows a close relationship with God that those who are not pure in heart cannot have. There is no reason to try in vain to keep the outside clean without receiving true Bible salvation. When God saves a soul, He will cleanse them of sin and reconcile them to Him. When He sanctifies in the second cleansing, He will remove that inherited sinful nature and that person will be fully pure in heart and have the blessed privilege of seeing God!
How thankful the pure in heart can be to have access to God! We have been given access to come boldly before the throne of God! Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” It also says in Hebrews 13:6, “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” What a wonderful privilege to have such a relationship with God that we can boldly come before Him and rely on Him for help: consider who He is, and who we are! It truly is a blessing to have such a friend in Jesus!
- Strong, James, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Cincinnati: Jennings & Graham, 1890
- www.dictionary.com, 2021