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  • Writer's pictureRobert Phillips

The Beatitudes: Purity

Updated: Apr 17

Let us review what we have learned from the Beatitudes thus far. Matthew 5:3-7 says:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."

And now, we continue on to verse 8:

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

This word “pure” (katharos) was used in several different ways in the Bible:

  • Ritually or physically for temple worship

  • Purification by fire

  • A vine prepared for fruit production through pruning.

Although these definitions all seem to give a very physical nuance to the idea of purity, what is interesting about Jesus’ choice of words here is that He adds a qualifier to purity: the heart. Jesus is after heart purity here, and that is deeper and more involved than ritualistic or merely physical purity. This shouldn’t surprise us because as Moses recorded the Law in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the heart was mentioned over and over again as essential to true law-keeping. Even in the Shemah, the Old Testament Law’s most important passage, the Israelites were instructed to love God from an inside to outside direction: heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6).

With that truth in mind, let’s build to our sixth beatitude upon the ones we have already learned:

  1. When we recognize we are spiritually poor, we must turn to the wealth of God’s righteousness.

  2. The state of our broken condition causes mourning, but we find joy in Jesus because he grants to us his righteousness, allowing us to be in God’s presence.

  3. We respond with meekness through the honesty that we cannot accomplish a righteous condition on our own without Jesus! As we exalt Jesus in our life, God allows us to be an influence on those around us!

  4. All of these attitudes, or beatitudes, drive us on in Spiritual desire for even more of God’s presence and wisdom because we recognize that nothing else is going to bring us satisfaction in this life.

  5. As we seek more of Jesus, what we are actually seeking is to become more like Jesus, and this results in living a life that better reflects Jesus to others. This looks like a life of love, mercy and grace extended to others.

  6. The Closer we get to Jesus through the Holy Spirit inside of us, the deeper work he can do in cleaning and purifying our behaviors and thoughts, aligning them with the righteousness He has already granted to us. Christ’s righteousness is what deems us worthy to be in God’s presence.

Sanctification As Purifying Work

The alignment to Christ’s righteousness is the purifying work of sanctification that takes place in the believers life on earth. In the process of sanctification, the true condition of the heart aligned with Christ will make it’s way out in a believers’ attitude and actions. In his book The Sermon on the Mount, Martyn Lloyd-Jones said “The pure in heart seeing God is an antithesis!”(Loyd-Jones, 94) Lloyd Jones went on to say that “everything on earth is the dressing room to prepare us for the throne room of God the King.”

We don’t often consider that we are actually supposed to be already practicing the presence of God in our life! Imagine if we could see the Holy Spirit, and He looked just like a hologram version of Jesus. If we could constantly see and interact with Jesus, that would change how we approach life. But here is the truth…we are interacting with Jesus through the Holy Spirit--we just aren’t thinking about it!

Paul wanted to illustrate this truth in a memorable way in his second letter to young Pastor Timothy, his disciple. Here is what he said in 2 Timothy 2:20-21:

"Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work."

The illustration here is the usableness of any of us. You can make soup in a slop bucket, and you can use a golden vessel for slop. What brings the vessel close to a persons lips is it’s cleanliness. We must approach our life in such a way that we expect to feel the kiss of heaven against our forehead. It’s the kiss of the King! Are we presentable?

We must approach our life in such a way that we expect to feel the kiss of heaven against our forehead. 

Fleeing and Pursuing

It is only Christ who can make us presentable, but we must draw near from the heart. How? Paul tells us in the next verse:

"So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."

Paul is on to an important concept here of the mental struggle with sin. He could have just said “flee sin”. Instead, he adds to fleeing, pursuing.

It isn’t enough just to tell ourselves to stop doing something wrong; we also need to pursue doing something right, and that movement towards good action will pull as away from bad action. Paul says we are to get alongside people who have a pure heart for the Lord, and pursue what they are pursuing! What are we to pursue?

  • Righteousness - These are the things we do that help us to be like Jesus.

  • Faith - This is a deeper learning of what we believe.

  • Love - This how we pursue others to show them Jesus.

  • Peace - This is the effort we make to see the world heal and become better through Gospel centered living.

It isn’t enough just to tell ourselves to stop doing something wrong; we also need to pursue doing something right

Think On These Things

I’m always going to be thinking about something. If I don’t want to think about things that cause lust, or anger, or anxiety, or hatred, I have to know what it is that I should be thinking about. Paul said it this way in another letter:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8–9

D.A. Carson in his book Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation With the World said this: “Purity of heart must never be confused with outward conformity to rules. Because it is the heart which must be pure, this beatitude interrogates us with the awkward questions like these:

  • What do you think about when your mind slips into neutral?

  • How much sympathy do you have for deception, no matter how skillful? For shady humor, no matter how funny?

  • To what do you pay consistent allegiance?

  • What do you want more than anything else?

  • What and whom do you love?

  • To what extent are your actions and words accurate reflections of what is in your heart?

  • To what extent do your action and words constitute a cover-up for what is in your heart?”


Carson, D. A. (2018). Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount And His Confrontation With The World: A Study Of Matthew 5-10. Baker Books.

Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1976). Studies in the sermon on the Mount: One-volume edition. Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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