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Sunday, December 15, 2013 am                Pure in Heart Index

 

PURER IN HEART (23)
Conclusion - The Rewards of a Pure Heart

 Throughout this year we have been studying the pure heart.  It is my hope that this study has been encouraging as we strive to draw closer to God.   Today we bring this study to its conclusion.  We will briefly review the entire series and then we will notice some rewards associated with the pure heart.

 

I.                    Purer in Heart – Help Me To Be

a.        There are many passages that address purity of heart.  Two key passages that we have frequently appealed to are:  Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

Psalm 24:3-5, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

b.       What is a pure heart? As we began this study earlier this year we defined the heart as just as vital to our spiritual life as our physical heart is to our physical survival.  But the heart we are discussing is where our will, emotions, thoughts, understanding and attitudes are developed.  Prov. 4:23 says, “Out of it spring the issues of life.”
Purity means both unpolluted and undiluted.  In other words a pure heart is 100% directed toward God.

c.        Purity begins with God.  We have also noted that purity of heart actually begins with God.  Because of the guilt of sin, we need the blood of Jesus to cleanse us of our sins.  As our sins are washed away (through baptism – Acts 22:16, 2:38, Rom. 6:3-4, etc.) we are made “as white as snow.”  God cleanses us so that we can be in His presence.  BUT, this is only the beginning.  It is up to us to maintain our pure hearts which is what much of our study has been about. 

d.       This includes Qualities of a pure heart.  The pure heart is demonstrated in various qualities that we read about in scripture.  Some of the qualities we discussed include: It is undivided, resolved and prioritized.  It will manifest integrity, honesty, self-control, patience, humility, contentment, kindness, dignity, confidence and love.  As the qualities are developed in accord with God’s word, so will purity of heart.  A good passage to consider in this is 2 Pet. 1:5-7 and the results described.

e.       Dangers to the pure heart.  There are dangers all around us that we need to avoid if we are to live with purity of heart.   We need to avoid lust in its various forms – sensual lust, covetousness and pride (1 John 2:15-16).  We also need to overcome ignorance, unbelief, busyness & clutter, bitterness and other similar poisonous attitudes and control our tongues. 

f.         Maintaining a pure heart.  In the final portion of our study we have examined some things we need to do to maintain a pure heart.   IT begins with making up our mind that we are going to serve God (cf. Joshua 24:15).  We then need to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts (1 Pet. 3:15) – that means that we give place for Him in our lives (and He accepts nothing but total submission).  We need to choose our associates carefully (cf. 1 Cor. 15:33).  Then we need to get to work with a sense of zeal.  Finally, we need to “meditate on these things”, that is things that promote godliness (Phil. 4:8).   From time to time we need to reexamine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5).   And when all is said and done, we cannot give up, even when we face setbacks.  ! (1 Cor. 15:58, Gal. 6:9) 

 II.                  The Rewards of a pure heart

a.        One might note that what we have discussed is a great challenge – and it is! 

                                                   i.      We sometimes hear people say that being a Christian is easy.  I struggle greatly with that statement.  It is NOT easy to live the Christian life.  In fact, if you do it right it will be the most challenging thing you do as it will involve every relationship, decision and action you are involved with.   We will face difficult decisions, temptations, disappointments, setbacks and sacrifices.  At times it might become very discouraging and frustrating. The physical cost in friends, possessions, emotions, and activities can be overwhelming.  WE do a disservice to the cause of Christ when we tell people that serving God is easy.  But we can overcome all of these challenges IF we have the resolve AND OUR HEART IS RIGHT WITH GOD.   Jesus said the way to heaven is narrow and difficult (Matt. 7:13-14)

                                                  ii.      In Matt. 11:28-30 we read the words of Jesus, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. 

1.       When Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” His point was not that becoming His disciple would cause all our troubles to disappear.  We read in Matthew 10:34 that He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” This was a description of how following Him would come with a cost.  On another occasion He called for us to “forsake all that he has” (Luke 14:33) if we are to be His disciples. 

So what did Jesus mean by saying, “My yoke is easy”? 

2.       IF you study the word, “easy” you will find it is not the way we use the word in our English language.  The word is actually found some 7 times in the NT.  The ONLY time it is translated “easy” is in this text.  In other texts, it is translated “better” (Luke 5:39); “kind” (Luke 6:35, Eph. 4:32 – “be kind to one another”); “goodness” of God (Rom. 2:4); “good” habits (1 Cor. 15:33 – see our lesson from 2 weeks ago); and “gracious” (1 Pet. 2:3). 
From these we find the word actually means that His burden is not harsh, but is a good thing. 

3.       Thus the “yoke” that Jesus offered was pleasant, especially in its reward and when you consider WHO you are yoked with (Jesus).  Contrast His yoke with the alternative – the burden of sin and what it produces (and you might add to this the burden of the Law which could not ultimately bring forgiveness).  Following Jesus brings its rewards and hope.  Rather than “easy” as we use the word in our language, His yoke is BETTER! Romans 8:18 says, ““For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

b.       So is striving for a pure heart worth it?  Let us consider some of its rewards.

                                                   i.      Fellowship with God – the pure in heart will see God. 
This has been the goal we have discussed throughout this study (Matt. 5:8, cf. Psalm 15).
If we are to get life “alive” it hinges on our relationship with God and Jesus and the Spirit.
1 John 1:3 says, ““that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” In this text John is introducing a letter dealing with who Jesus is AND how we can serve Him.  It teaches much on keeping His commandments and the “fellowship” that exists with us NOW as a result of that.

1.       WE have fellowship with Him in this life.   Simply stated that mean we have a relationship with Him.  There is a “sharing” or “having things in common” between Him and us that governs the way we live.   
It hinges upon us walking in Him.  1 John 1:5-7
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

2.       A part of this means that we strive to imitate His good character.  In the qualities we have discussed throughout this study we find qualities that are perfected in Him.  God IS love (1 John 4:7-8); God is patient (2 Pet. 3:9); God is light (1 John 1:5); God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16), God is good (cf. Matt. 19:17, Rom. 2:4, 11:22), etc. 
As we study the character of God we find HOW we are to live in this life. 
Eph. 5:1 says, “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.” 
2 Peter 1:4 “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

3.       We will live with Him when this life is over.  1 Thess. 4:17, Psa. 23:6, etc.  More on this in a few moments.

                                                  ii.      A Good conscience

1.       This world is filled with disappointments.  In our ungodly society man is continually trying to take away our liberties in Christ.  And in many ways they are succeeding in removing our religious freedoms in this country.  BUT, one thing they cannot take from us is our conscience.  
Why could Paul and Silas sing in a prison in Philippi?  (Ac 16:25)  Because they rejoiced in their standing with the Lord.  They knew that man could take away their freedoms in this life, but they could NOT touch their soul (cf. Matt. 10:28).

2.       When we live with purity of heart, our conscience is clear.  We can have peace of mind knowing that we are pleasing to Him.

3.       In this study we have discussed many things that will make our associations with others in this world better and make our own lives better.  We sometimes use the expression, “quality of life” and that is what we are talking about.  No the difficulties to do NOT always go away, but our manner of life helps us deal with them with a good attitude.  Think about it – no envy or bitterness toward others, living with contentment and simplicity in our lives, have a purpose greater than this world, etc.  When we apply these things – it can ONLY lead to a better quality of life inside!

4.       WE have no need to fear man.  Heb. 13:6 says that we my boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?

5.       In 2 Tim. 1:3 Paul was thankful to God, “whom I serve with a pure conscience…”
Heb. 10:22 says,
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

                                                iii.      Hope of heaven after this life

1.       One of the reasons we are here is because we are concerned about our eternal destiny.  Not only should we desire to avoid eternal torments in hell (Matt. 25:46, 2 Thess. 1:8-9, etc.), we ought to live with a desire to spend eternity in heaven with God, our Lord and the faithful who have gone before.
John 14:1-3 speaks of a place with many mansions that has been prepared by the Lord.
2 Cor. 5:1-5 speaks of the building from God eternal in the heavens awaiting us.
Heb. 11:13-16 speaks of the hope of those who died in faith anticipating the fulfillment of promises.  It applies to us as well. 

2.       We continually read in the New Testament of the eternal life that awaits us. 
Eternal life is the reward for those “who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality.” (Rom. 2:7)
Titus 3:7 says, “that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Paul as he was about to conclude his life on earth expressed this hope saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8)

                                                iv.      God’s blessings – we do not know exactly how God works today, but we do know that when we obey Him, we are blessed by Him.  This does not mean a life of ease (as we have already seen) or even that He is going to shower us with material advantage.  But we know that He is there and He knows what we need (Mat. 6:32-33).  Much of our blessings are spiritual, but when we are faithful we will enjoy them. 
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

1 Pet. 3:12, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous.” For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Again 2 Pet. 1:3-4 speaks of Him giving us all things that pertain to life and godliness.
Our God will help us deal with temptations, give us peace, give us the tools to achieve unity with our brethren, confidence and so many other things.

                                                  v.      Answered prayers – Finally, with purity of hearts we can have the confidence of our prayers being heard.  In 1 Pet. 3:12 we read, “And His ears are open to their prayers.
Prayer is the privilege of the godly to approach God.  While He does not always answer the way that we want it, He does answer our prayers in the way that is best!  Sometimes that might mean “No” or “Wait” or “Not that, but this”, etc.
1 John 5:14–15 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Phil. 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
James 5:16 tells us the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 

These are just a few of the blessings we have to look forward to if we will strive for a pure heart.   It is my hope that this study has been a blessing to each of us.

In Conclusion:  Heaven is a pure place for a pure people.   Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  It is a place for the pure of heart (Psalm 24:2-3).  If we miss heaven, what have we really gained?  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).  

May we resolve to develop and maintain pure hearts.  And that means developing the qualities that promote purity and avoiding all things that are impure.   Rev. 21:27 says, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”  What about you?  Is your heart pure?  I humbly commend this study to you.