Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)
When Jesus is talking about the pure in heart he is not saying they are innocent or blameless. He is not excluding those who have done wrong. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The purity Jesus speaks of is attained by keeping in relationship with him, with the deep spiritual connection that allows us to walk in his will.
“Being in the light as he is in the light.” (1 John 1:7) This describes the one-on-one relationship between you and your Father, where the more you learn of his goodness, the more his goodness shines through you!
We have to grow in this kind of purity, the kind that comes from the Father, not from our own self-righteousness.
We may be doing alright in our walk with God. Inside, things are not too bad. We do not lust, hate, envy. We have joy, peace, love. We are not severely damaged or scarred. We are walking. But could we be running? And for those who are not doing alright, for those of us who find the fruits described in Galatians 5:22-23 so hard to hold onto in our daily lives? For we who long to be close to the Father, but have been hurt and scared and still have our sins coming up to haunt us, for those of us who would love to just be walking forward instead of taking two steps backwards for every one step forward? Oh yes! A simple walk seems like a wonderful thing to those who have been struggling to walk for so long.
The problem with being content with walking is that we can soon stop walking and stand still. That does not work in faith! You need to be moving! Dare I say, “running”? Paul did not speak of being content with a walk. No, he talked about winning the race by running! (Hebrews 12:1, 2 Timothy 4:6-8) It is like going up an escalator which is going down: you have to run up or you will not make any progress. You cannot stop or you will not only never reach the top, but will start going back down.
It happens to all of us: we all sin, we all make huge mistakes. I say huge because so often people say “slipped”. It is much more serious than simply slipping. Slipping implies we had no chance or choice, we merely lost our footing and fell. It is always a choice to sin and the scriptures make it clear that Christ always gives a way out. (I Corinthians 10:13) I believe God lets us make our choices. If we sin there are consequences and God does not keep us from them. He allows them. I am not saying he causes sin to come into our lives. God is not the one who tempts us to sin. (James 1:13) He simply allows us to get ourselves into situations where we can be tempted. Then we see how much we really need to be in constant companionship with him, how we need to keep up-to-the moment with God so our vision does not become hazy and so our core personal purity is not greatly affected. Personal purity is how we are doing inside and out. Are our actions lining up to the word of God? How is our thought life? Do we have the mind of Christ? We are to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). A pursuit of purity is a pursuit of Christ, a pursuit of relationship with him. Christ is not only the example of perfect purity, but the one who offers the chance for a life of meaning through holiness. Compared to Christ all of our efforts are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). I want to highlight that it is through Christ we come to a personally radically life-changing purity. By no means can we achieve any kind of purity or holiness in our own strength.
When we see a flaw in our purity we must stop (not stop running towards Christ!)and put all the worries of life aside and determine what went wrong in our life. Even the slightest degree of character flaw needs to be fixed. Our spiritual eyes, our vision, depends on our character. Remember it is “the pure in heart” who “see God”. (Matthew 5:8) Your heart is a living and breathing thing, always exposed to your surroundings, always raw and easily affected. It is the most precious part of you, the source of your character. A flaw is a sin issue.
If it is something new, a sin that you have not struggled with in the past it is a easier matter to deal with then one that has been a reoccurring temptation. You stop and repent, ask Jesus Christ to forgive you. Then you look at how you got to the point of committing the sin. If you truly look at your life and the direction you took it is often many little choices that lead you to the point of sin. You repent and choose change and move on. Do not dwell on the sin after you make choices to change your life-style and choose to walk away from heading down the wrong path.
If it is a sin that you have dealt with for a long time – perhaps you were once addicted to drugs, alcohol or sex – it will be much harder to uproot the sins. You must look to Christ to take away the tendancy and give strength to resist the temptations! You have to not only change your choices and your life style, you must uproot things in your thought life.
Example in my life: I am finding media, particularly movies to not only be a waste of time in my life but also a hindrance to my relationship with Christ. I see all these lies on the screen glorifying pre-marital sex, which is such a destructive path that ruins lives. I had to first listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. A question came to me when I viewed such scenes :”Why am I watching this?”
The acceptance of sex outside marriage is a lie of the devil. This is gross how they are selling this to people. This is brain washing! The thing is, I know how wrong sex outside of marriage is and how it has damaged the family structure in North America, how it hurts whole families, how our society is being tore apart. Yet when I watch these movies I start to entertain thoughts on how good it seems, in a small degree I start to condone it as a healthy normal thing. Thoughts lead to actions my friends. And I know, I know, I know… if anyone knows its me! So what do I do? I ask Jesus to forgive me for those thoughts and for disobeying his Holy Spirit in watching such films. I look where my decisions have led me and I make a change. I love movies, but I love Jesus more. I am fasting them for forty days (and here is the key) and replacing the time spent on watching films with spending time with Jesus. You must replace your negative life style choices with good. This is illustrated in Matthew 12:43-45.
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
The demons came back and found the house clean! This man did not fill his time with anything productive, he did not fill his heart and mind with God! You must fill it with Christ! Bible study, prayer, fellowship, serving. You cannot sit and twiddle your thumbs and think of your old habitual sins. The evil spirit of addiction whether it be gossip or pornography will come back worse then ever. Christ wants you to run from it and run to him! The devil wants you to feel dirty and unworthy to come to Christ and stay in sin!
Jesus Christ made us wholly (or is it holy?) pure by a single act of his amazing grace when he gave his life on the cross. However, he never meant for us to abuse our salvation as we have. My favorite sentence in scripture which is repeated many times is “watch out”. There are many snares out there to trip us up as Christians. Why do you think more then half the New Testament is spent dealing with how we should live? We must be careful. We have to watch what we feed on. We come in contact with people everyday. Everyone gives opinions. It is through others’ points of view that we get tripped up, trapped and scared. Be careful who you trust, know your scriptures so you can discern who to put confidence in. The mind runs into the arms of other lovers: humanism, materialism, sexual perversion, addiction to alcohol and drugs, the lies of this world and ultimately, the lies of the devil . People are used by the devil. Often times it seems like common sense or good advice. It could be from close friends or even family. Look into scriptures and consult God when given advice.
Not only do we have to watch out for what is coming from the inside, from our hearts, we must also watch what our outer bodies are exposed to. The habits of our eyes and ears soon penetrate our hearts and minds. Habits as in where our eyes are inclined to look and how they view what they are seeing. For instance, when we were not following the Lord, did you like watching soap operas which promoted affairs and backbiting, or if you are a man did you look at women in the wrong way? Did you enjoy listening to gossip or violent and crude music? Those are habits that can influence your actions and need to be changed. Our inner persons need to be kept right with God, but our bodies, our “outer courts” must be kept inline with the purity God gives us through his grace. Our spiritual vision, our understanding, the Holy Spirit’s work in us, will be greatly hampered if our outer selves are stained.