A few thoughts from the morning sermon:
I've always struggled with this Beatitude, bothered by the term "pure in heart." I think of PURE as being untainted or unstained. (Actually I think of the Disney character, "Snow White"; she was innocent and naive, untainted by the evil around here). I knew I didn't fit that category. When I think of my spiritual heart, I think it is dirty and stained up from the sin I've allowed into my life. Even though I am a Christian and I know I am forgiven, I felt like my heart would never be pure enough that I would be able to see God, at least not this side of eternity.
So, as I began to study this passage, I began to think about the people who "saw" God, or had a personal encounter with Him. I thought of Abraham, and God's visit to his tent to tell him that Sarah would become pregnant. Abraham, who lied about his relationship with Sarah, who went to Egypt even though God did not tell him to go. Abraham who tried to help God keep His promise by having a child with Sarah's servant. Was Abraham really "pure in heart."
I also thought about Jacob, who wrestled with God at the Jabbok brook. Jacob, the trickster, who stole the birthright and the blessing from his brother Esau; who tricked his uncle Laban in order to grow his wealth. Was Jacob "pure in heart"?
Moses had a personal encounter with God, and even spoke to God as a man speaks to a friend. But Moses was on the backside of the desert when he encountered God through the burning bush, and he was there because he was wanted for murder in Egypt. Pure in heart?
As I studied the Scriptures, what became clear is that "pure in heart" didn't mean to have a Snow White heart that had never been stained by sin. It means that your heart has been cleansed by God, the stain of sin removed by His grace and forgiveness. The word for pure that Jesus used is where we get our word "catharsis", which refers to a cleansing of the heart or mind. It is also a noun that means to be "unmixed, as having no double allegiance." Pastor Brian Bill gives a great explanation of what it means to be pure in heart: "A person with a passion for purity (a pure heart) is one who has been cleansed in character so that the way he or she looks in public is the way he or she is in private." A person whose heart has been cleansed by God is the same person all the time; he or she doesn't have a public persona and a private persona. To be pure in heart is the opposite of being a hypocrite. I'll expand on this more later.