Cedar Rapids Alliance Church

Loving, Knowing, and Growing in Jesus

Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. Matthew 5:8
I have a confession to make. I’m kind of a closet Keith Green fan. If you’re not familiar with Keith Green’s work, I would encourage you to give him a listen. The story of his life and ministry is pretty great too. Keith was a brilliant song writer who had an amazing heart for Jesus! I say ‘had’ because he died at the young age of 28 in a plane crash in 1982. Now I say ‘closet’ fan because most the people who know me know that my style of music is more on the harder side of rock. However, I cannot deny how beautiful Keith Green’s piano driven ballads are. One of my favorite Keith Green songs was inspired by the words of King David. The words are taken directly from one of David’s darkest times found in Psalm 51:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence; Take not Thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; And renew a right spirit within me”. Psalm 51:1-12

I can almost see Keith Green sitting behind a piano singing it. Here is a link to a you tube video of Keith singing the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv16YUTCp9U

Back to the thoughts of Jesus found in Matthew 5. We call the first part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes. The men’s discipleship groups that I lead and that meet in my church are currently going through these passages found in Matthew chapters 5-7. Last night we looked at the above passage found in verse 8. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. The Beatitudes are truly character qualities of a citizen of heaven. Jesus is saying, to ‘see God” once must have a ‘pure heart’.

Often times we are motivated by stature or appearance. The great prophet, priest and judge Samuel was. If someone like Samuel can be skewed by appearances why would we think that we would be any different? God told Samuel that he was to anoint a new king for Israel. Saul, the current king, was not working out. God had removed His anointing from Saul. God sent Samuel to Bethlehem, to the home of Jesse, to meet the soon to be new king of the Hebrew people. Instantly Samuel is enamored with Eliab. It made perfect sense. Eliab was the oldest of Jesse’s sons and already a proven warrior. However, as many of you know, Eliab was not God’s choice. God’s choice would be the youngest and the smallest of Jesse’s sons. God would choose David! Samuel’s eyes and brain had deceived him. He figured Eliab was the obvious choice. I mean, Saul was huge, strong and good looking. Why wouldn’t God want the next king of Israel to have similar qualities?

However, God picked David! David, a small teen who would destroy a giant. David, a man who would be given into lust and murder. David, ultimately a man that God would have the scriptures declare to be, “a man after his own heart” Acts 13:22. Why is that? How could someone who committed so many vile acts STILL be declared by God as pure? The answer is found in the above Psalm and the words of that Keith Green hymn. Once God made David mindful of his sin and who he had sinned against (the Lord), he, David, was devastated. In his devastation he cried out to his God, “create in me a clean heart”. That is what makes the words of Jesus so important in Matthew 5:8. David understood very well what Jesus was saying before Jesus even said it; God, and only God, can create a ‘pure heart’. A ‘pure heart’ is something we cannot create on our own. A ‘pure heart’ comes from the process of regeneration. Regeneration is the act of God re-birthing us. Jesus explained to Nehemiah in John 3 as being “born again”.

Back to Samuel and appearances. We have no idea who is truly been given a ‘pure heart’, only God knows that information. Many times we think those who MUST be ‘pure in heart’ are those who attend church all the time or serve in the community. The people who are ‘pure in heart’ MUST to be those individuals who know their bibles really well. Any one of those are often times very good indications of a renewed heart. However, often times those with ‘pure hearts’ are the individuals that we would never assume! We often times think the person who is ‘pure in heart’ must go to church almost every Sunday and when they do they wear khakis and a tie. How refreshing, and at times surprising, it is when we find a ‘pure heart’ residing in the body of a person covered in tattoos and having gauged ears. If Jesus teaches us anything from His Sermon on a hillside it is that Heaven will be populated with all kinds of people that we would have never assumed. In fact, the frightening reality is that we will no doubt be more surprised by who we will NOT find in Heaven. Read Matthew 7:13-14 for a glimpse at that.

Have you asked God to ‘purify your heart’ through the blood of Jesus? Why is that important? Because it is ONLY through the blood of Jesus that an individual can truly be made pure. When you place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you are given a new heart in the spiritual world. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the apostle Paul says something truly beautiful happens: “The old is gone and the new comes”. Spiritually speaking our old heart dies with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and we are given a new heart. Jesus said in John 14:6 that He alone is: “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Jesus went on to say in that passage, “no one can come to the Father except through me”. Essentially, no one can ‘see God’ who does not have a ‘pure heart’.

If you would like to know how you can have your heart renewed and made pure please feel free to ask!

Wanderer

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”…

The lyrics you’ve just read were originally written in 1757 by hymnist Robert Roberson. Roberson was only 22 years old when he penned these now famous words. The words are just as powerful today!

As I was driving to the office this morning, the above mentioned song, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing came on. I instantly tuned in and began to sing and worship along with the artist. My favorite version is by the O.C. Supertones. As I sang…”Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”

I was instantly catapulted to a scripture. In Romans 7 we find the apostle Paul in a very transparent, fragile state. Paul is talking about how he has been struggling with sin. In Romans 7:21-23 Paul states:

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart.

But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.

This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.”

I can so resonate with Paul as he shares his heart! He is venting his personal frustrations with his own sinful tendencies. Paul is saying and I paraphrase…”WOW, I call myself a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ? I’m supposed to be a teacher and a leader…Oh if they only knew!” Paul is dealing with a crisis!

I think we can all understand Paul’s heart. It’s so frustrating when we’ve been walking with the Lord for several years, maybe even decades, and that old pet sin rears its ugly head and we feel deflated and defeated. We say to ourselves…

“Lord I thought I was SO further along than this!”

It happens to each of us. It’s called the crisis of our sanctification. God is working through us! The great vinedresser is doing some necessary pruning and guess what? It can hurt from time to time!

We say to ourselves…

“Lord, I’m prone to wander, Lord I prone to leave You!” This realization beckons us to action. When faced with the crisis of his sinful nature Paul states in verse 24 “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”

Paul is literally crushed my his sinfulness. He is the wanderer described in Come Thou Fount. And guess what? So am! So are you! No matter how long each one of us has been walking with the Lord, sin issues surface and often they floor us and we say just like Paul, “Oh what a miserable person I am”!

I truly believe that if this was where the story ended, for the Apostle Paul or for any of us, the Christian life would be unbearable. It would be a life of heavy burdens. One of the very attractive benefits of being a follower of Jesus is the loosening of burdens and strongholds, not creating heavier burdens!

In Matthew 11:30 Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and by burden is light”. If Paul’s or our Christian existence was always hard and heavy we would most assuredly give up. But look at what Paul says in Romans 7:25:

“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Hallelujah, Jesus reigns! Hallelujah, we are not trapped with a heavy yoke or endless burdens! Yes, as Christians we sin…we wander from the God we love. The beauty is this: God loves us despite of us! He does not allow us to stay trapped in our sins. He uses our sins to point out that we have NOT arrived quite yet. He uses our sins to increase our awareness of our constant need of Him to sanctify us daily!

A greater dependence on Him over a period of time does indeed change us, Praise God! Of course some people change more quickly. But the truth of Romans 7 is this…God IS sanctify ALL of those who submit to HIM! Sanctifying each of us according to His own personal, sovereign  plan for each one of us (Jeremiah 29:11)!

So, do you wander from time to time? Do you ever say to yourself after you’ve wander…”Wow, really, I thought I was a lot further along than this!” Have peace, the Lord of heaven and earth is working in you and through you! He loves you, even in your sins. He will these crises in our sanctification for our growth. Every time we successfully deal with a sin issue (confess, ask for forgiveness and repent)we will ended up an more sanctified follower of Jesus!

Next time we will be quicker to notice the oncoming symptoms of our old sin nature and are better prepared to flee from the temptation before we sin. Remember, God always provides and escape, 1 Corinthians 10:13. Jesus did all the work on the cross for us. He provided the way for our salvation, He provided the way for our healing, He provided the way for our sanctification and someday He will return and sanctify us through and through so we are no longer prone to wander and leave the God we love!

Here is the link to the song:

Come Thou Fount by Supertones