Lersson 6 – Pure in Heart

Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.      Matthew 5:8


Word Definition:

Pure – katharos:  Free from impure admixture, without blemish, spotless (free from corrupt desire, free from guilt).

Heart – kardia:  English, cardiac, the chief organ of physical life.  It came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity both the rational and emotional element.

See – horao:  A bodily vision or a mental perception.  It is used as perception in general (as resulting principally from vision).

The following is a list of scriptures where the writers of the New Testament have employed the word “pure” as it was translated from the Greek word “katharos.”  Since the blessing for Christians who have the “pure in heart” attitude is to see God, we will be very careful to understand the divine meaning of “pure.”  We will want to let the word of God define the vision for us; otherwise, it is possible to “see” God in a way He is not.  It is probably safe to say there are many different visions of the “one God.”  Paul identified all other concepts of God, as “so-called” gods (I Cor. 8:4-6).  Of these, there are myriads.

The surest and perhaps, only way to understand the meaning of a word is to understand how the author used the word in its historical and literary context.  Please give consideration to this Biblical principle of interpretation from the following scriptures:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8.

The thoughts with which people fill their minds are the only things available to us to think about.  Please note how the foregoing “whatsoever” laws of life all have to do with the development of a Christian’s value system.  Christians view the situations we encounter daily from our preconception of what is good and what is evil.  It is how we see things – our paradigm.  We interpret the situation at hand from the way we see it.  From where we “sit” is where we “stand” on any given issue.

Note: The first “whatsoever” law is truth.  Our personal value system is our road map of life.  It is our “world view.”  It is not necessarily the same as the reality of life.  Christians continually adjust our value systems to God’s truth.        

Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.  I Tim. 1:5.

Paul, by the authority of his apostleship, had left Timothy in Ephesus to command certain men not to teach false doctrines.  False doctrines promote controversies rather than God’s work.  The result of God’s work for the “self” of a Christian is what this scripture has declared.  A pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith are the results of God’s program in Christ to develop children for His kingdom.

Note:  The commandments of the new covenant are laws that describe the phenomenon of the life of the “self.”  They function from the inside/out; that is, from cognitive/affective learning to one’s habits – from personality to behavior.  The cognitive and affective learning of an individual is internalized.  This is how a person’s personality and character is developed.       

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. I Tim. 3:9.

A pure conscience is free from guilt of sin (Matt. 18:3; Heb. 9:14; 10:1-4).

Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. I Tim. 5:22.

This is referring to behavior prompted by impure motives.  Timothy was told to keep Paul’s instructions without partiality or favoritism.  

I thank God, whom I serve as my forefathers did with a pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.
II Tim. 1:3.
See I Corinthians 4:1-5.

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. II Tim. 2:22.

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. Titus 1:15.

Little children are pure in mind, heart and conscience.  Such are the kingdom of God (Luke 18:17).  They approach people, God and His universe with a pure heart – no guile (John 1:47).  If their parents nurture this attitude they may develop it as a part of their personality.  They may see Jesus as pure and become His disciple.  All people have choice.  Some may choose their own way to satisfy the needs God created in them. When they fail they may develop impure ways of approaching man, God and His universe.  Their pure child minds become defiled and unbelieving.    

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.  Heb. 10:22.

The context for this scripture is an appeal to the Hebrews Christians to draw near to God through the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  One element of the appeal is that Christians, having been born again, are continually cleansed by the blood of Jesus according to the doctrine of justification by faith (Rom. 4:25; I John 1:7).  Since having peace with God is the result; they should feel free to come into God’s presence (Rom. 5:1).   

Pure religion and undefiled before God, the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27.

The word “religion” has been translated from the Greek word “threskeia.”  It signifies “religion” in its external aspect according to Vines Greek dictionary.  Please see its use in Acts 26:5 and Col. 2:18.  James uses the word to set up a contrast between what is undefiled and what is unreal and deceptive. 

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3:17.

One definition of the word “wisdom” is the principle of applying truth to life’s experiences.  Wise behavior, the final stage of learning, is the result of learning (cognitive) and having faith (affective) in truth.  Jesus has taught us the truth about becoming a happy individual in the Sermon on the Mount.  His wisdom is pure.  It is flawless.  Christians apply it to our life experiences, but only if we have internalized truth.    

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. I Pet. 1:22.

The truth all Christians have obeyed resulted in our new birth.  The final process of being born again is our baptism for the remission of our sins (Rom. 6:17).  The “pure heart” Peter spoke of is one that is free of guilt for sin.  There is only one way for a sinner in the world to have a pure heart and that is die with Jesus in the waters of baptism (Acts 8:36-39; Rom. 6:4).

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.  II Pet. 3:1.

Just as false doctrines result in an impure mind, true doctrines produce pure minds. 

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.  Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure. I John 3:2, 3.

The Apostle John has brought us where we want to be in our lesson on the “pure in heart” attitude.  John is probably speaking of the new body a faithful Christian will receive when our Lord comes for us.  Christians know what Jesus is like as a divine Person.  We do not know much about the design of His spiritual body; therefore, we do not know about our resurrected bodies.  We do know it will be imperishable, glorious and powerful (I Cor. 15:42-44).  John’s point is that if we have the hope of attaining this wonderful body like Jesus has, we will want to purify our “selves” (our spirits that came from God).  Our “selves” are now being made ready for our new body.  In other words, since we will live in a body like Jesus has, which we don’t know much about, we will want to develop our “selves” like the Person of Jesus that we do know about.  We want to work on purifying ourselves as He is pure.


What did we learn about the meaning of the word pure from the foregoing scriptures?  What does the word “pure” mean to us now that we know what it meant in the context used by divinely inspired writers?  We have seen how certain conditions must exist in the mental environment in which we live in order to foster a pure in heart attitude.  Consider the following conditions.

  1. We must think about pure things (Phil. 4:8; II Pet. 3:1).  Some things should not be thought about at all (Col. 2:8).  The present worldwide communication system has made available many things for people to think about.  Much of it is impure.  We need to guard ourselves and our children from being exposed – lest we begin to think about it.  Just as our body is what we eat, our “selves” are what we think.
  2. God’s work “in Christ” is according to the law of life; therefore, His goal for Christians is to fulfill the requirements of the law.  One way this is accomplished is by a Christian’s love from a pure heart (I Tim. 1:3-11; Matt. 5:21-26).  Pure religion before God, the Father, involves the condition of the inner man.  It is specific to the attitudes of a mourner and keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world.”  James 1:27.  Pure Christian religion cannot be steeped in legalism and ritualism.  Along with prayer, singing, giving and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, Christians offer our bodies in service as “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”  Romans 12:1.  In other words, the righteous service of a Christian is performed by a holy person.  Holy, saint and a pure in heart attitude are somewhat synonymous terms in this scripture.
  3. All of the capabilities of the inner man must be pure if one’s behavior will please God.  One cannot be pure in mind and heart without having a pure conscience.  One will not have a pure conscience unless he or she has a pure mind and heart, etc.  Please review the scriptures in the introduction.    Children have a pure heart; however, because of their relation to Adam, they will become impure.  They will become sinners (Rom 5:12).  The work of God for Christians in our new birth is absolutely necessary in order to redevelop the pure in heart attitude (Col. 2:11, 12; I Pet. 1:22).  The two elements of a living soul is the spirit that came from God and the body in which it is housed (Eccl.  12:7; II Cor. 5:6-9).  The spirit encompasses the mind, heart and conscience.
  4. Since all elements of a living soul must be purified before the “pure in heart” attitude can be developed, the key for having a “pure in heart” is integration.  All of one’s capacities must be aligned to their dominating purpose in life.  A person’s enthusiasm for a worthwhile purpose has a valuable effect on the integration of personality and character.  A dominating purpose keeps a person focused on their goal.
  5. A Christian’s goal is to “seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.”  Matt 6:33.  We want to “Be perfect, therefore, as our Father is perfect.”  Matt 5:48.  Our goal is to follow “the narrow road that leads to life.” Matt. 7:14.  We are building a healthy mental/spiritual foundation for our “self” so we will be strong and courageous.  We want to bear good fruit for ourselves, God and other people (Matt. 7:17, 24).  We have a dominating goal that integrates all of our soul life.  We want to hear Jesus say on Judgment Day, “I know you, because you learned to know Me.”  Matt. 7:21-23.

Christians who are pure and holy see God in everything (Heb. 12:14).  Those who are pure in heart are free from corrupt desires and guilt both rationally and emotionally (Rom. 13:14).  Because of our clean or guiltless state it enables us to see God; that is, to mentally perceive God in others by what they do and say.  We realize our spirits and other peoples’ spirits “have been made in God’s likeness.”  James 3:9.  We do not any longer measure ourselves by other people (II Cor. 5:12; 10:12).

God has made it possible for citizens of His kingdom to have, or develop, this attitude.  He has set up a mental environment in which He removes our sins and counts us right because of our faith.  Therefore we are pure; that is, we are called saints by God.  We have no guilt.  We are able to overlook the sins in others because we have no sin or guilt of our own to keep under cover. This condition leaves us free of suspicion and doubt of our fellow man.  We do not need to point out other peoples’ sins in order to cover our own.  We are able to see and have faith in the potential goodness of our fellow man.

Jesus demonstrated the pure in heart attitude for us when He looked at others.  He saw in the person the potential of becoming more than what he or she was at the present time (Luke 7:44-50).  When we have faith in others it causes them to strive to achieve the expectations we have for their future life.  It gives them the motivation to achieve.

Jesus did not shut his eyes to evil.  He saw what people could become.  Peter finally developed into the person Jesus knew he could be.  So we need not shut our eyes to evil but rebuke it and look past it to see God’s will.  He is not willing that any one should be lost (I Tim. 2:4).

The pure in heart are always looking for the good in others.  Their faith is such that they never tire of finding it.  This gives them a singleness of purpose which integrates all their other drives.  An example is a good father and mother.  Their faith in their child is such that they never tire of looking for the best in him or her. They have a singleness of purpose to help their children develop healthy personalities as they mature.  They have a vision of purity and never lose sight of trying to do what they can to help their child fulfill their vision.  It motivates their every act and determines their every attitude.

When we can develop this attitude toward all men we can see God.  We develop an insight into His spiritual laws of life.  Through an experimental faith as citizens of His kingdom we can let His rule become a part of our lives as we grow and mature.  The more His spiritual laws rule our hearts the more of His kingdom comes into our heart.  We are happy.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What has God done for His children to make it possible for us to develop the pure in heart attitude?
  2. Give an example from Jesus’ life in which He manifested the pure in heart attitude.
  3. Give a modern day example of this attitude being put into practice.
  4. What are some objections usually put forth against developing the pure in heart attitude toward all men?
  5. What does a person need in order to have an integrated personality?
  6. Are we to shut our eyes to evil in others in order to be pure in heart?  Explain.
  7. What is the difference in being a saint and having a “pure in heart” attitude?
  8. From what vantage point does each person vision life?
  9. What would be the effect of an impure conscience on the heart and mind of a person?
  10. What does the condition of the mind and heart have to do with one’s behavior?

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