“Blessed are the pure in, heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

In the very beginning of the Lord Jesus’ ministry we read that He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which was spo­ken by Esaias the prophet, saying, the land of Zab­ulon and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The peo­ple which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. And further we read in the same context: From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. And a little further: And Jesus went about all Gal­ilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of disease among the people.

The result was that there followed Him great mul­titudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from be­yond Jordan.

And Jesus, seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth and taught them, saying—and then follows the well-known Sermon on the Mount.

The beginning of that sermon comprises what is known as the seven beatitudes, the sixth of which I have chosen for my meditation: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

These seven beatitudes do not describe seven kinds of people. For instance, it is not so that you may be­long to those that are poor in spirit and not to those that mourn, or to those that hunger and thirst after righteousness. We find here rather a sevenfold des­cription of the citizens of the Kingdom of heaven. Moreover, this description is not first of all the out­ward behavior of these citizens of the heavenly King­dom, as it is a portrayal of their inward, spiritual sta­tus as children of God. The seven characteristics of these blessed ones are inner virtues of the heart and not first of all their words and deeds. If their words and deeds are praiseworthy it is because of the fact that they are poor in spirit, meek, hungering, merci­ful, pure and peaceable. And these virtues are virtues of the heart.

So also with my text: the pure in heart are bles­sed. It describes the citizens of heaven from the inner principle of their inmost man. Their hearts are pure, therefore they are blessed and their blessedness is expressed in the wonderful fact that they shall see God.

What does it mean when we speak of purity in heart?

In order to know that, we will have to know first of all what is meant by the Word of God when it speaks of the heart of man. In Proverbs 4:23 we read the admonition: “Keep thy heart with all dil­igence: for out of it are the issues of life.” And Psalm 64:6 speaks of the heart as very deep. It shows us that the heart of man is the ethical spiritual cen­ter of his existence. Because in the Scripture just quoted we heard that out of it are the issues of life. Therefore it is plain that the thoughts, the desires, the imaginations and reflections, together with all your willing and knowing; your loving and hating spring from the heart. It is the fountain of all our conscious and unconscious existence. You are not what you say and think, but you are as your heart is. As the heart of a man is, so is he.

Secondly, what does it mean to be pure in heart?

It is the most wonderful thing that can happen to you. If my heart is pure, I do not really care what happens to me. Then I am blessed even when in the midst of the flames and smoke of the stake. If my heart is pure, I have heaven in my soul. It is the high­est good for man.

And why, you ask? Well, the word purity here means that the heart has no foreign, alien substances in it. It is as we speak of pure gold. In that case we have in mind gold that is purified of all substances that are not gold, but are dross and dirt. So we al­so speak of diamonds of the purest water.

Pure in heart we were when we came out of the hand of our Creator in paradise. Adam and Eve walked in the garden of Eden with pure hearts. And that has some wonderful implications. It is a heart that is rich in God. A pure heart knows and loves the idea to stand before His blessed face and to be fil­led with Him as the day is long. A pure heart turns itself to God as the flower turns itself to the warming rays of the sun. A pure heart hates all evil and loves all that is good and praiseworthy. A pure heart is virtuous in the extreme. Hence, a pure heart is hea­ven in principle.

Where does that leave us, dear reader?

Listen and we will hear what the Bible has to say on that score. I find the answer in Jeremiah 17:9. I quote: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” That is a very exhaustive definition of the human heart. Yes, exhaustive and humiliating. And true. It is the de­finition of the Holy Ghost whose name is the Spirit of truth. There is no comeback here. Hence, we also read in Gen. 6:5: “And God saw that the wicked­ness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only e­vil continually.”

How has that come about?

The answer is: the sin of Adam and Eve in para­dise. There the inmost heart of man turned itself from the eternal and triune God to the devil and made a covenant with that fallen spirit from hell. Listen again to God’s Word: Isaiah 28:15 “Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell we are at agreement!” There is the record and it is against all of us, none excepted. There is there­fore no one that doeth good, no not one. Ps. 53.

Thus we can understand that when the Holy Spi­rit must define our hearts, He would testify in the Word of God: Deceitful is the heart above all things and desperately wicked!

That means also that all the issues of our hearts are wicked. Oh, I know, I know, that this is not al­ways evident. That we often times will smile with a cursing heart. That there are many things that we do and speak which have the name of goodness and vir­tue. But pray, tell me, what is behind all our so-cal­led nobility but a heart that will not give God the praise and honor that is due Him? Who among the children of man will do virtue and honor because he loves God? And that is the only virtue worthy of the name. The Bible tells us, my friends, that all things we do, eating, drinking or ought else, must all be done to His honor and His glory? In another place it says All that is not done out of faith is sin!

Hence, we conclude that we all are impure in heart, none excepted. Such is the testimony of Scripture; such is the testimony which the Holy Spirit writes in our hearts when we are regenerated and converted; and such is our experience in the midst of the world. That is also the reason why a converted soul will cry: O God be merciful to me, the sinner! At such time you will not make any nice distinctions between your so-called good works and your evil works, but when you stand in the light of God’s Spirit and when the wis­dom of heaven falls into your impure heart, at such times you see nothing but sin, sin, sin. And you find only one name that fits you and that name is sinner!

The best man that ever lived said: I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes. He is Job, the man in the land of Uz. We are able to make quite a catalog of the confessions of God’s saints in the Bible. They all speak one language. And if that be true of the child of God; I ask you, where shall the wicked ap­pear? Ono more testimony: and, remember, it is a description of the historical church of God. I find it in Isaiah 64:66, 67a: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we” all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee . . . .” There you have our picture as we are by our natural birth. That is human na­ture. In this connection I am tempted to ask: what of that celebrated free will to accept the gospel? The Holy Ghost tells us that no one on earth stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee. That was so in Isaiah’s day; and so it is today.

We—all of us­—are impure of heart. Every one of us has gone away backward, we have forgotten God.

This impurity may be proven very easily. One sim­ple question: why do you labor and work and sweat in this sorry world? Many answers, most of which would be: I want to earn a decent living on earth and give everyone his due. Yes, and what about God? If you have would asked Adam when he still had his pure heart, he would have said: I work and keep the garden of Eden because I love God. I work unto His honor and praises. Ah, you all know that we are sel­fish by nature. And all that is an expression of the impure state of the heart. The heart is turned to self, our friends, humanity, the world, in short to everything, except to heaven’s own God. And that is also our sin.

To whom then does Jesus refer in the 6th beati­tude?

Well, dear reader, the answer to that question is the gospel of God.

My first answer must be: the pure in heart is Je­sus. Oh, you may rely upon it: all His heart was and is pure. There were no foreign elements in the depth of His heart. That is also the reason why He always spoke for God and unto His honor.

He knew that He was sent into the world to reveal the Father. He knew that He had to show to the whole world how lovable and how full of loving kindness the Father was. He knew also that this revelation would call for the most horrible suffering for Him­self. God wanted to reveal His love: the children of God that were loved from all eternity must be saved from death and hell and the curse. But the way unto that salvation was the payment of justice and right­eousness which were outraged by the children of God. And that payment was eternal death for Jesus. And what did Jesus do? He was so pure in heart that He said: Not my will but Thy will be done and He trod the way of eternal suffering where His pure heart broke in the cry: Why, O my God, hast Thou forsaken Me? It was the question of a pure heart which never for­sook God. It was His meat and drink to do the will of God. And because He knew that His torment was the explanation of God’s great love and Goodness, He grew still and suffered until the cup of the wrath of God was emptied to the bottom.

Jesus is the pure in heart.

And, in the second place, this Jesus gives Himself through His Word and Spirit unto the men and wo­men, the children and babes that were given Him of the Father. Go with me to Paul and he will tell you.

I quote; I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And again: Know ye not your own selves, how that Je­sus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? Gal. 2:20 and II Cor. 13:5.

And the entrance of the Lord Jesus Christ in the depth of our hearts is called the new birth, which when coming to our consciousness is called the con­version of the sinner. From that time on the Lord Je­sus dwells in us and never departs from us. And He dwells within us by His Holy Spirit that was poured out on Pentecost.

New creatures, indeed. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.

Not as though all the evil and wickedness and im­purity of our nature is removed, but so that in the very depth of our evil heart the obedience and the pur­ity of Christ dwells and works and fights against all the remaining evil in our nature, until the time that we are entirely liberated and shall dwell in all purity in the abode of the pure; and, that is heaven.

Such people are blessed.

And why?

The reason for their blessedness is stated in the text. They shall see God.

I may as well say right at the start that to unre­generated men that means nothing at all. No, that is not correct. It does mean something to them. The more you talk to them of seeing God the more they will hate the very idea. Because by nature we all hate the idea of a God that must be loved and obeyed unto all eternity. We will go out of our way and send mes­sengers after Him saying: We have no pleasure in Thy ways, O God! Do you not know how His name and His day and His church is hated and outraged all through the ages? No, there is no natural love of God. And when He shall come in the day of judg­ment, then the wicked will say: Mountains fall upon us and hills cover us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne. For the day of His wrath is come and who is able to stand?

But if Christ dwells in you so that your inmost heart is pure, there is nothing sweeter to you than to see His blessed face. Then you say with the poet: When shall I come to appear before God? To see God face to face and to be satisfied with such spec­tacle in heavenly sphere is the highest good for man. It is the cause of much singing and utmost jubilation.

When I in righteousness at last Thy glorious face shall see, when all the weary night is past, and I a­wake with Thee: to view the glories that abide, then, then I shall be satisfied!

G. Vos