Sunday, May 5, 2013 am                        Pure Heart Index

Qualities of a Pure Heart (1)

                 We are resuming our study of the pure heart, a theme we will visit throughout this year.   In the first part of our study we identified how much the Bible addresses the pure heart, what a pure heart is and we noted God’s part in purifying the heart.  As we resume our study we want to notice some qualities of a pure heart.

                These are attributes that will present if our heart is pure.  If these qualities are absent, they are things we need to develop.  In this portion of our study we also want to notice some things that contaminate the heart.  The next few weeks we are going to examine some of these attributes in great detail.

 I.                    A pure heart is undivided  

a.        We actually discussed this a little as we defined purity.  We noted that pure can mean either without contamination or undiluted.  Both apply to the Christian’s heart.   And it is a key quality of a pure heart. 

b.       It is important that we understand the commitment involved in becoming a Christian means that God will be first in our lives.  That is something that one needs to be comprehend BEFORE obeying the gospel. 

c.        Matt. 22:37 describes the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  That is the FIRST commandment!  It is the foundation of the undivided heart.

d.       This undivided attitude is seen in the focus one has in his purpose. 
 “One thing!”   Paul told the Philippians, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14)  It means that one not easily distracted or deterred from his purpose. 

e.       Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 described our life as a race (a marathon rather than a sprint).  He noted that we are to run to win.  He then gave the illustration of an athlete who competes for the prize.  He is “temperate in all things.”   That means his attention is undivided toward preparing so that he might win the race.  Paul concludes by saying, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  The discipline he spoke of demonstrated an undivided purpose.

f.         The DIVIDED heart will lead to heartache and misery.  Because you will eventually be faced with having to choose one thing over the other.  The divided heart leads to a less than committed life – you will not fight the good fight with your all.  You will not run the race to win.   Your performance will be lack-luster and lukewarm.  It also leads to confusion as one doesn’t know where they truly stand, which means you become frustrated. 

                                                   i.       James 1:8 in speaking of one who doubts in his prayers says that he is “double minded, unstable in all his ways”. 

                                                  ii.      In the parable of the Sower, we find the thorny soil as unfit because it is divided between serving God and the cares, riches and pleasures of this world (Luke 8:14) and as a result they bring no fruit to maturity.

                                                iii.      Jesus taught that no one can serve 2 masters. (Matt. 6:24)  His point was that serving God and Satan are diametrically opposed to one another.  Yet how many want to try?  That is why James warned that friendship with the world is enmity with God (Jas. 4:4)
1 John 2:15-17 tells us not to love the world or the things in the world.

                                                iv.      James 4:8 he says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” 

g.        Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me Your way, O LORD;  I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.
Psalm 119:2, “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart.”
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” (Psalm 119:34).  NOTE: 6 times the 119th psalm speaks of the “whole heart.”

h.       Is your heart undivided? Is your undivided heart directed toward God?

 II.                  A pure heart prioritizes  

a.        An undivided heart does not mean that you cannot do more than one thing in your life.  It simply means that you have your priorities straight. 

b.       We live in the world:  We have families, a job, community responsibilities, responsibilities toward our brethren, etc.   At times we need to rest or to get away for a while.   All these things are PART of our lives.  They are good and perhaps even necessary.   BUT, managing everything requires PRIORITY!

c.        What is priority?  The word actually means “the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc. precedence.”[1]

d.       The word “priority” is not used in the Bible, but it is clearly taught in scripture as to our relationship with God.

                                                   i.      Matt. 6:33 - Seek first the kingdom of God.   

                                                  ii.      Matt. 13:44-46 – the kingdom of heaven is compared to a hidden treasure and a pearl of great price. 

                                                iii.      Matt. 10:34-37 where Jesus spoke of not bringing peace, but a sword.  He made reference to family relationships and the need to love Him more than others.

                                                iv.      Luke 9:59-62 finds Jesus answering the excuses of others whose priorities were not straight.

                                                  v.      Luke 10:38-42 – when Jesus is visiting the home of Mary and Martha.  We find Martha is distracted with the task of serving the Lord and preparing a meal.  Mary was listening to the teachings of Jesus.  Martha asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her.  His response is worthy of note: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

                                                vi.      Luke 14:33, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

                                               vii.      Priorities means serving God will ALWAYS be chosen over the things of this world.

e.       The prioritized heart will ensure that in all he does, God is at the forefront:

                                                   i.      It makes preparation.  Consider Ezra who “had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.”  (Ezra 7:10)

                                                  ii.      It will tend to matters of the kingdom with haste and efficiency.  Just like the future apostles whom Jesus invited to follow Him.  They left their nets, their money tables and other tasks to follow Him.  (cf. Matt. 4:18-20, 9:9, etc.)

                                                iii.      It involves balance.  As we have noted, our lives consist of many relationships and tasks that must be accomplished.  BUT, the pure heart WEIGHS priorities in carrying these things out.  Colossians 3:17 say, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

                                                iv.      It may mean you can’t do everything you want to do, even if it is good.  One of the challenges of business in life is deciding what you cannot do.  The truth is you CANNOT do everything.  That is why priorities are so important.  With wisdom you must weed through what is MOST important.  Cf. Gal. 6:10 – an example, your brethren come before the world!

f.         The pure heart will seek God first, and prioritize the rest of one’s life based upon that.


 III.                A pure heart is resolved –

a.        What is resolve?  The word means to come to a definite decision about something.  We sometimes use the term, “make up your mind.”  The word is only used 4 times in the NKJV, 2x in the NT.  Luke 16:4, “I have resolved what to do” (the unjust steward speaking), and Rom. 14:13, “let us not judge one another anymore but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”   The usage of the words gives us an understanding of what is meant.

b.       As with the word “priority”, while the word is not used often in scripture, the idea of resolve is found continually.  It is also found throughout scripture in words like determination, endurance, diligence, committed, zeal, pressing on, purpose, etc. 
It is also found in little words like cannot, will not , must, ought to, deny, etc.

c.        Consider the following passages:

                                                   i.      1 Pet. 2:21-23 – the example of Jesus for us is one of resolve.  He committed Himself to God willingly suffering on the cross.

                                                  ii.      Matt. 16:24, “IF anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

                                                iii.      Acts 4:19-20 finds Peter and John arrested for preaching Christ in the temple.  They are sternly warned to stop.  They answered, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.  In other words, you are NOT going to stop us from preaching Jesus!

                                                iv.      Phil. 3:12-14 – Paul pressed toward the goal of the upward call of God.

                                                  v.      Acts 21:12-13, toward the conclusion of Paul’s 3rd preaching journey, he is warned of what will happen in Jerusalem.  His friends pleaded with him to not go.  Paul answers, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart?  For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  That is an example of true resolve!

                                                vi.      2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God…”

                                               vii.      Daniel was resolved to serve God, even in a foreign land. Daniel 1:8 says that he purposed in his heart that would not defile himself.

                                             viii.      When Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego refuse to bow to the king’s golden idol and are threatened with the fiery furnace they say, “We have no need to answer you in this matter.  If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O King, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

                                                ix.      The children of Israel under the direction of Nehemiah resolved to rebuild the walls and nothing stopped them from accomplishing the work in very quick time (53 days).  Neh. 4:6 says, “the people had a mind to work.”

                                                  x.      Eccl. 9:10, “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might…”

                                                xi.      Eph. 5:15-16 – walk circumspectly, redeeming the time.

                                               xii.      Rom. 12:11, “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

                                             xiii.      Heb. 4:11, “Let us be diligent to enter that rest…”

                                             xiv.      Heb. 12:1-2, “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”

d.       A pure heart is resolved (i.e. makes up its mind) that it is going to be pure. 

                                                   i.      Why? Because  of its undivided purpose and because of its priorities.

                                                  ii.      Friends, this DOESN’T happen until deep down we make up our minds to change or not change, whatever the case might be!

                                                iii.      Resolve is NOT superficial!  It will be seen in continued faithfulness.  Heb. 2:1 – the more earnest heed lest we drift away.

                                                iv.      When obstacles appear, we will work through them and not be deterred by them.

                                                  v.      Resolve will also affect what one does NOT do.  It will avoid that which endangers its purity (details in another lesson).

e.       Is your religion a preference or a commitment?

                                                   i.      It is not uncommon today to be asked, “What is your religious preference?”   As if, your religion is a choice like how you want your steak or what color shirt you want to wear.

                                                  ii.      Yet, is that not how many treat religion?  As merely a preference? Will you choose to believe in Jesus?  If so, what “flavor” of conduct do you want to choose?  They treat it as if it doesn’t matter what you believe.  “Attend the church of your choice!” they say.

                                                iii.      Our religion is NOT a mere preference, it must be a commitment!  The road to eternal destruction is wide and well-traveled (Matt. 7:13-14).  But the path that leads to eternal life is “straight and narrow” (or difficult).   It must be based upon the TRUTH of God’s word, NOT what we want it to be.  And it requires a heart that is resolved to do that which is right (Matt. 28:19-20).

f.         The pure heart will make up its mind to serve God at all costs.

               And thus we begin to examine the qualities of a pure heart.  In our next lesson we will continue to examine characteristics of a pure heart.  We will examine integrity, honesty and self-control.  This will be followed by other qualities that will be manifest.  What about you?  As you examine your life – do you find divided interests? Are you as resolved to follow the Savior as you ought to be?