March 26, 2016

A lovely merry-go-round

The topic is purity, but this is not as simple as it sounds. When speaking of pure water, there is no contaminants in that water; it is clean. When speaking of a pure heart, there is no sin in that heart? Yet the writer of Proverbs asks: Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”? (Proverbs 20:9) The implication is that no one can say this. Only God can make a sinner pure.

However, the psalmist says that the commandment of God is pure, meaning faultless (Psalm 19:8). This is easier to accept, but what about this statement that uses the same word: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” (Psalm 24:3–4) How can a person be pure and faultless?

The good news is that God justifies sinners. We can stand before Him and be declared free of sin’s guilt because Christ took our sin and bore its penalty. He makes me ‘not guilty’ in God’s judgment court.

Yet the psalmist seems to say that purity is more than a legal term; it is about actual life experiences. God might see me justified by Christ, but what about the way I live?

Today’s verse adds the words of Jesus about purity. While they do not directly answer the above questions, His words point me in the right direction. He says . . .

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

How does purity relate to being able to see God? Jesus also said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Seeing God is connected to seeing Jesus. Since this cannot mean only those who see Him physically, it must be about those who see Him through the eyes of faith.

Seeing Jesus this way is about trusting Him, opening my life to Him, welcoming Him in as Savior and Lord. When that happens, when sins are confessed and forgiven, when nothing is held back or held on to (as is, “I will give up everything except . . . .”) a sincere faith without pretense or hypocrisy, without personal ambition or prideful boasting, begins to transform a sinful heart into one that is pure.

For this, Chambers says purity goes beyond innocence. Purity is not about what I haven’t done. It is not about a clear conscience, or about saying I trust God and at the same time trying to control things myself. It is also not about looking good to others, but having evil thoughts in my heart. As I understand it, purity is as much about integrity as it is about being innocent.

For me, purity includes two things: a declaration of what I am in Christ, and then growing or becoming like that pure heart that He says I am. This is something like enlisting in the armed forces. As soon as a person signs up, they are a soldier. But that person must go to boot camp, endure training, and grow in understanding and ability to live like what they were declared to already be. At the same time, that soldier must remember he is a soldier in order to become what he already is!

God declares me pure. Better than being in the army, I will never get a dishonorable discharge for acting like a jerk. He just keeps on working in my heart to make me what He already declares me to be.

During that process, the more I understand who I am in His care, the more I am able to see Him, not with my eyes, but by faith, and the more I see Him, the more I understand who I am . . .

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Pure hearts see God, and in seeing God I am changed to be more like Him, and being more like Him enables me to better see Him. What a lovely merry-go-round!

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