“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
Being pure in heart is not easy. Every day we are surrounded by temptations to be impure, to think and say and do things which go against God’s plan for our lives. Marriage and family are under attack. Honesty and courtesy are becoming obsolete. Thoughts about God are pushed to the side—they still have their place, people say, but that place is not first on the list, higher than everything else.
When we confess our sins to God, we describe the wrong things we have done. That is a good start, but it is not enough. The wrong things we planned to do and never got around to doing are also sins, even if something prevented us from accomplishing our plans. Being tempted is not sinful—even Jesus was tempted—but enjoying the temptation is a sin. Spending hours considering what it would be like to do those things we know are wrong is a sin. Our thoughts and minds and hearts are not pure when we use them to live in a world of sin, a world which we do not have the courage (or the opportunity) to enter with our bodies.
We are going to see God! That vision is his blessing, his promise to us, in spite of our sins. Even though our thoughts and plans have not been pure, even though those thoughts and plans have resulted in sinful lives, Jesus has lived and died for us to take away our sins and to promise us eternal life in a new creation. We are going to see God! We will spend eternity with him. These same eyes that have seen the tragedy of sin and evil will also see a world without evil of any kind.
Because we will see God, we want to keep our hearts pure today. We want this, not to earn the blessing (because blessings cannot be earned); we want to keep our hearts pure because of the joy of the blessing. Because we will see God, our lives are different today. Jesus in this sermon will suggest that we would willingly cut off a hand or gouge out an eye if that was the price we needed to pay to keep the blessing of one day seeing God.
We do not need to pay that price. The price has already been paid. Jesus gave his life on the cross so we can see God. But we still sin every day. Our hearts are still impure. Our minds still travel paths that are not acceptable to God. Therefore, we pray the prayer of King David, written in Psalm 51: “Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Every day we sin. Every day we need to be purified and remade. By the power of Christ’s blessing, we have new hearts—pure hearts—and right spirits every day we spend in this sin-polluted world. J.