Are you the one standing in a group when a word or reference is made, maybe a slightly dirty joke or innuendo is used, and you don’t have a clue what everyone is laughing about? Don’t be embarrassed by the fact that you’re clueless, be glad that your mind isn’t filled with garbage, so it makes sense that you can’t relate to something that seems like it’s in a different language.
Maybe you just can’t understand because you’ve got that purity of heart that Matthew 5 talks about.
Yesterday, I shared with you the example of Ruthie, standing on the bank of the Mazarn River, in her blazing white robe, dripping wet from river water because she’d just been baptized. This newly baptized believer, clothed in white, is a beautiful picture of our positional purity in Christ.
But moments after stepping out of the water, while we’re all standing around talking and laughing, just enjoying the moment . . . some late-comer comes flying down the dirt road, barreling toward us, bringing the biggest dust cloud ever, and that brown dust just covers Ruthie’s blazing white robe . . . turning it a dingy beige.
That may be a silly and imaginative example, but it’s a picture of what I’m trying to describe as we look at pursuing purity. For those of us who’ve come to Christ for salvation, we are positionally pure, because of His redeeming work on the cross . . . but we live in a world of filthy corruption.
We are “in the world” surrounded by the contamination of the fall: the unholy, evil, perverse, profanity of the world, the garbage . . . but we are not “of” the world.
As believers, we are temples of the Holy Spirit, we’ve been given new life, a holy birth into purity . . . but we are like that example of Ruthie, wearing a blazing white baptismal robe while the dust of filth from the corruption of the fallen world swirls around us, sometimes dirtying our robe . . . thankfully, that dirt cloud can never remove our “robe of righteousness in Christ.” But the dirt around us is something we must realize is there; it has potential, not to remove our robe, but to turn it a dingy color, or add a layer of soil . . . so we must take action to care for the “purity of our robe.”
We’ve got to throw it in the washer for cleansing!
Today, I’m not talking about the purity of a baptismal robe, but the purity of our heart.
When we talk about purity of heart, it is important to make a distinction between the “positional purity” that Christ provides us at salvation and the daily “practical purity” that is required of us as we walk in a fallen and corrupt environment.
This is week five in our summer study using Nancy Wolgemuth’s book: Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. Our reading last week, in the book Adorned, covered three chapters: one on freedom from addictions, a very important chapter on being a “sophron” woman by developing self-control, and then a chapter on being passionate about “purity.” I want to combine the content of those three chapters by letting “purity of heart” be the primary focus for the posts this week.
It is helpful to understand what purity of the heart is, in order to learn how to battle our addictions and out-of-control desires. We need to understand that “self-control” and “freedom from addictions” is not something we can “work up” as an action of the will, but is an overflow of the purifying work God does in our hearts and minds. So let’s start there:
The Woman with Purity of Heart Has a Broader Perspective
Look at Jesus’ promise in Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Jesus makes a connection here between purity and true vision.
Those who are not only positionally pure, but on the practical day-to-day level have a hunger and thirst for righteousness, are seeking to walk and live in moral purity . . . those are the ones who can see beyond the corruption surrounding them and approach life, and the people around them, with a God-inspired vision.
In one sense, “seeing God” is referring to that Day when we’ll be in the manifest presence of Christ, we’ll experience face-to-face “seeing.” But, as is most often the case with Scripture, this verse has more than one meaning. “Seeing God” is to have a spiritual sight right now, in this life, that increases with our understanding of God and our pursuit of purity.
There is a tie between purity of heart and the ability to “see” spiritually the work and movement of God.
But, for those who pursue purity of heart, it might also mean that a lot of things go right over your head:
[box]To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled (Titus 1:15).[/box]
Purity of heart reaches far deeper than our daily actions–it should dictate our daily actions, but sadly, it’s possible to perform lots of “good” activities with an impure heart.
Remember Jesus’ word to the Pharisees about this in the gospels? He was always warning them about checking every self-righteous box, keeping every outwardly moral law, while still having a heart that was corrupt.
How can we know the difference? How do we know if we’re just going through the outward motions of morality or actually developing a PURE HEART?
Do you know there is a “LAW” in Scripture that is at the heart of purity? It is called the “Royal Law” in James 2. Do you know what the “Royal Law” is according to Scripture?
It’s the Law of LOVE:
[box]“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.” (James 2:8)[/box]
Purity of Heart boils down to this: Having the Royal Law of Love at work in your life.
It is impossible to love others, without first receiving God’s love, then cultivating that love relationship so that it overflows into a supernatural, beyond-ourselves-type of love for others.
Love is what should drive our desires, our decisions, our conversations.
Purity of Heart is determined by what we choose to love.
“We must let God’s Word reveal and determine what our hearts are meant to love, what our minds are meant to dwell on, what our relationships are meant to be like, and what our habits are meant to (accomplish) . . . We can look to (Christ) to transform us by His grace—no matter what we’ve done, no matter where we’ve been—until our lives ultimately mirror the gleaming whiteness of His purity” (Adorned paragraph 192).
When we let God’s Word reveal and determine what our hearts are meant to love, and we choose that above the fleshly, contaminated, darkness the world offers . . . we’ll develop purity of heart. We’ll love God and love others out of a pure heart. Purity of heart is produced by “who we are in Christ.” We are positionally pure because of His work on the cross, but practical maintenance of daily purity is necessary.
You gotta take that baptismal robe off and run it through the washer, not just daily, but pretty much all throughout the day!
Let’s take a quick run through Ephesians 5 to get the picture of how we are to be washed for purity:
[box]Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit . . .
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
(Ephesians 5:1–4, 7–11, 15–18, 25–27)[/box]
Did you notice how Christ cleanses us? We are His bride and he sanctifies, purifies, cleanses us through washing us in the Word.
The “washing of the Word” is what we need for our daily cleansing, just like Ruthie throwing that dirty baptismal robe in the washer, I need washing! I need to go to the Word and see where I’ve strayed from walking by the Spirit, see where I’ve offended someone, see where my heart has grown cold or rebellious . . . and the Word washes over me to bring a gracious heart change, repentance that leads to confession of my sin, and sweet forgiveness by the Savior . . . and the Word washes over me with hope for the future, with the reminder of God’s steadfast love . . . washing and washing our minds and hearts.
When the royal law of love is at work within us, it compels us to purity. We’ll consider others’ needs above our own, we’ll determine to walk in holiness out of love for our Savior, we’ll dwell in the Word of God to be “washed” by those truths in order to live in purity of heart.
Warning: Anyone can perform some “super-spiritual” looking activities with a dirty heart.
But, if I’m living for God’s glory as my purpose, and loving Him and others as my motive, only then can I really develop purity of heart. In order to do that, it helps to continually check my motives and to remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. This “purity of heart” goes way deeper than outward actions—it is the purity of your inmost thoughts, desires, and motivations.
How about a heart check today?
If you’re interested, I’ve got a few questions that might help with that purifying process. Check out the blog post with that questionnaire by clicking here.