Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”
People have been trying to pursue purity for thousands of years unfortunately most of the pathways they have traveled have been pointless. Several of these popular but pointless pathways are:
Legalism, this was the preferred pathway of the priests in Jesus day. It always revolves around rules and regulations that must be strictly followed in order to gain favor with God and impress people. It’s a pointless system because it never penetrates the heart.
Modernism, this moves us to the opposite end of the spectrum where we can pick and choose our beliefs and they don’t have to be based on scriptural standards and beliefs. This pathway is very popular because it is based on personal preference. The Sadducees rejected several key doctrinal truths during Jesus day, picking and choosing what they wanted.
Activism, this pathway tries to bring about change by using political power and while we should participate in the democratic process through voting, only a heart change can bring about lasting change in a community. The Zealots of the first century believed that a political change was what God’s people needed, that’s why they were disappointed in the Prince of Peace.
Monasticism, practiced mostly by monks, believes that disengaging from society will promote purity. The problem with this is that sin lurks in the heart and not just in the world.
There are many more man made models that we could talk about but none of them promote purity. So how do we live pure lives in a corrupt culture? Philippians 2:12-13 gives us hope for holy living, revealing both our personal responsibility as well as God’s part. “12 Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” The pursuit of purity is a joint project, God calls us to personally participate in our sanctification as He works in us. There is a balance, we can’t sit back and do nothing but neither can we clean ourselves up on our own. So practically what does it look like for us to participate in purity. First we need to:
- Admit our sinful impurity.
The first step is to acknowledge that we can’t change on our own without Christ. Proverbs 20:9 says: “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?’” Have you ever been honest about how unholy your heart really is? Second
- Ask God for a new heart
After admitting that you have a deceitful and diseased heart, agree with God’s diagnosis and ask Him for a new one. This is the story of salvation, we not only admit our sin but we turn to the Savior for the forgiveness of sin.
- Pursue purity through prayer
David had many moral messes and after confessing them to the Lord, he prayed for a holy heart in Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” This is more than just breaking some bad habits, its dealing with a defiled and dirty heart. David was also proactive when it came to purity, calling on God to search out his sin, Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Most of us use prayer to petition God over problems but how many use prayer to petition God for purity?
- Pursue God
Pursuing God will have a purifying effect in our lives because as we come close to Him we come close to holiness. James 4:8 says: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” There is no way to be pure without clinging to Christ and cultivating your relationship with Him.
- Memorize and meditate on His Word
If you are serious about pursuing purity then make time to memorize and meditate on scripture. In Psalm 119:9, the psalmist asks a question, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” The answer comes in the second part of verse 11: “By living according to your word…I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Don’t just read the word hide it in your heart.
- Avoid complaining and arguing.
This one is a surprise to many but complaining is really exhibiting a lack of faith in Christ and an argumentative attitude allowing anger and unholiness to take root in our hearts. Philippians 2:14-15: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure…”
- Watch what you watch.
While our heart is what harbor unholiness, the eyes are often the gateway to the heart. Part of the war involves watching what we watch, James 1:27 tells us that part of pure religion is to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” This is becoming increasingly difficult in our sin saturated society but God has given us two built in weapons to win the war. The first weapon we have that can bring victory involves our vision, we can only focus on sin that we can see. Our peripheral vision lends itself to purity because it’s too fuzzy to let us focus. Second God has placed all this on a pivot called a neck that can turn the vison away from sin and toward victory. This means that if we want to pursue purity we have to practice looking away from that which will pollute. That’s what Job did in Job 31:1: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” We need to filter what we focus on.
- Wait and trust God’s Word
When it comes to sexual purity the world tells us to rush in but God’s word tells us to wait. Unfortunately instead of experiencing the wonder of waiting most experience the wounds of not waiting. Secular society tells us that we can have safe sex, and while we may be able to protect ourselves from sexual disease it doesn’t prevent us from damage. The truth is a prophylactic doesn’t protect purity. True love waits, Hebrews 13:4 says: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” It’s never too late to make a purity pact.
- Find a faithful friend
You may need to find some different friends if the ones you have are dragging you down and influencing you for ill. Proverbs 13:20 says: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
- Focus on your future hope
If you’re serious about pursuing purity remember it’s not a sprint but a lifelong race one we are to run looking forward to Christ’s return. Longing for Christ’s return will purify our hearts because we become what we love. 1 John 3:3: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
Do you desire to pursue purity, then cut loose the sin that will sink you. There is a story told about a couple who had recently purchased a new boat, but were having some serious problems. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t get their 22-foot boat going. It was very sluggish no matter which way they turned, no matter how much power was applied. After about an hour of trying to make it go, they putted to a nearby marina, hoping someone there could tell them what was wrong. A thorough check on the topside of the boat revealed that everything was in perfect working condition. The engine ran fine, the out drive went up and down, and the propeller was the correct size and pitch. Then, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath. He came up choking on the water because he was laughing so hard. Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer! Let me ask you when God looks underneath your life, what does He see? When He looks behind your perfectly manicured mask, what does He discover? Is your heart strapped to some sin that is slowly pulling you under?