Sermon on the Mount - 7
We are taking our time going through the Sermon on the Mount. There are three reasons we are not rushing through this landmark of a sermon:
- Relevance - Even though this sermon was preached by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, to a culture of people vastly different than ours, this sermon still has amazing life and relevancy. Consider the first section of this sermon the beatitudes. Happiness is not external but internal; a work of God. Jesus lays the foundation on how to be blessed and happy that leads to authentic and powerful rejoicing. The key to rejoicing is not doing one of the beatitudes but being all the beatitudes.
A person is blessed if they are poor in spirit. God has broken and redeemed them. The result of this poor in sprit is one day they will see through their glorified eyes the Kingdom of God. They now have an inheritance awaiting them. However, if they never get beyond the poor in spirit into other beatitudes then they will miss out on so much more blessings of joy. If they never get beyond the milk of God’s word then they will never experience comforting by God as those who mourn over sin; they may miss out of inheriting the earth by not being meek; they will never fill satisfied unless they hunger and thirst after righteousness; and God will not provide them with mercy to give mercy to others. They will be blessed to be going to heaven, but miss out on so much more blessings that adds to rejoicing.
- Responsibility - This sermon gives us our responsibility as Christians. Not just to our community, but to the whole world. Being saved is free. Many people refer to this grace as free grace. This free grace is completely and wholly a work of God. If not then it ceases to be grace. Once grace has intervened in our lives, a whole new world of responsibility opens up to us. We have a debt to the world - to be the salt of the earth.
- Righteousness - There is so much confusion today over righteousness. On one hand, there is a group that tends to be more rigid and on the other hand, there is a group that tends to be too loose. On one hand, there is a group that tends to be too loving and compassionate, and on the other hand, there is a group that tends to be unforgiving. This sermon sets the standards on righteousness from the inside out. This is personal; this sermon is not meant for us to examine others, but us. How do we live our lives, especially, the part of our life that no one sees but God.
This power can be seen with all the beatitudes. There is a transformative power that happens to us so that we can be these beatitudes.
- In the text before us this evening. Jesus said:
Matthew 5:8KJV 1900
Blessedarethe pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Those who are pure in heart shall be blessed because one day they will see God. The reason they are seeing God is the pureness of their heart.
This is important for us to see. The only way a person’s heart can be pure to any degree is if something divinely transformative takes place in their heart.
When I was a teenager, my brother and I watched the Transformers. It was a cartoon about cars or planes transforming into warrior robots. These warrior robots resembled nothing like a car or a plane. If we are be pure in heart then we must have this transformation that gives us a completely different kind of heart.
We want to view people as good or good hearted. We might say, “that person has a good heart.” Yet, within the context of the Bible, no one’s heart is good, without a divine work of grace.
Mark 7:21–23KJV 1900
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Jeremiah 17:9–10KJV 1900
The heart isdeceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lordsearch the heart, Itry the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, andaccording to the fruit of his doings.
Isaiah 64:6KJV 1900
But we are all as an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses areas filthy rags;
And we all do fade as a leaf;
And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
There are so many other passages that can be brought out. Before God saved us, our hearts were a cesspool of unrighteousness and filthiness. We were as far removed from having a pure heart as possible. We needed a transformation to take place.
- There is another thing to consider as we work our way through a transformative heart.
Job 14:4KJV 1900
Who can bring a clean thingout of an unclean?
We cannot expect to be crystal clean if we are taking a bath in a mud pit. Similarly, we cannot clean our hearts using our filthy rags of unrighteousness. Our perverse, wicked, polluted, unrighteous and rebellious hearts cannot produce a pure heart.
- What is the answer? How do we have this transformation take place? God! We need God to intervene.
Ezekiel 36:26KJV 1900
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
God illustrates through metaphors His divine work in giving us a pure heart. The Jews had a stony heart. The prophets’ sermon and the words of God bounced off them as rain drops to a concrete road. Nothing penetrated their hearts. As a result, both Israel and Judah were in captivity. The good news is God provides us with many news’:
How wonderfully the Book of God proclaims the doctrine of the “new”! It speaks of a “new covenant,” and a “new creature,” and a “new song”: it even asserts that there shall be “a new heaven and a new earth.” It proclaims that He that sitteth upon the throne purposes to “make allthings new.” It is the unique claim of the gospel that it makes men new. It professes to alter character, not as all other religious and ethical systems in the world have done, by mere influence of reason or of motives, or by a discipline of the flesh; it professes to alter human character by altering human nature. It brings truth, indeed, to satisfy the reason, and powerful motives of every sort to tell upon the will, as well as law to stimulate the conscience; but in the very act of doing so, it pronounces all these external appliances to be utterly insufficient without a concurrent action of God from within the man. The real change it proclaims to be a change of “heart” or spiritual being; and that is the work of God.
Today, we can have a heart of flesh, which is unlike the heart of stone. The heart of flesh is tender, gentle, and absorbs God’s word. Instead of being rebellious, the heart of flesh desires God’s commands. If nothing clean can come out of unclean then how does the transformation take place? God removes the stony heart and gives us a new heart and spirit.
When the transformation take place, positionally, we have a pure heart. Yet, Jesus is not speaking of just positional; He also has practical involved. God’s word is not just theoretical but practical. There is a practical side to this beatitude that brings out the blessings in practical ways. Another reason for a pure hearted person to be blessed is the influence God’s word has in their life.
There are two ways to see this point:
- We are putting God’s word in our heart.
Matthew 15:16–20KJV 1900
And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the thingswhich defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Proverbs 4:23KJV 1900
Keep thy heart with all diligence;
For out of it arethe issues of life.
Jesus just finished condemning the religious leaders over their legalism (especially, washing hands before eating). He told them that what goes into the mouth is not the problem but what comes out of the mouth. His disciples did not understand what that statement meant. So, Jesus explained to them the meaning behind that statement.
Food going into the belly has no direct or indirect impact on the heart. This did not stop the Jews from creating religious laws governing how people should eat food. The point Jesus made was: it is not important how you eat food that goes into the stomach but how and with what you feed your heart. The heart is where our life is, and the words coming from out of our mouth, started in our hearts. A person with a pure heart feeds upon God’s word daily so what is coming out of the mouth is purity.
Another way of looking at the same point is in the parable of the sower.
Mark 4:1–9KJV 1900
And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Later in chapter 4, Jesus defined certain terms: seed is God’s word; the ground is man’s heart. The good heart received God’s word and produced fruit from his or her heart demonstrating the power of God’s word in their heart.
- God’s word is a cleansing agent that washes our hearts.
Ephesians 5:26KJV 1900
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Jesus sanctifies and cleanses His church by washing the church with the word of God. The washing is not external but internal; the heart.
John 17:17KJV 1900
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jesus is praying to the Father. The word “sanctify” means to cleanse. How does this cleansing take place? Through truth, which is God’s word.
The person who does not have a pure heart wants nothing to do with God or His word. You are blessed if God’s word has an influence in your life. Do not take this for granted.
- We can see on a practical level that we can have a pure heart. However, the only way to have this pure heart is through God’s word.
With each of the beatitudes there is perspective and a primary reason for the person being blessed. In our beatitude this evening, the answer and primary reason the person is blessed is he or she will see God. This statement cannot be overemphasized enough. Those of a pure heart will one day see God. We will see Him face to face without being destroyed.
Everyone sees God. Most of the world will see God in His wrath, in which He will say:
Daniel 5:27KJV 1900
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
Matthew 7:23KJV 1900
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
However, when he sees those with a pure heart, His words and tone will be different.
Matthew 25:21KJV 1900
His lord said unto him, Well done, thougood and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Therefore, this blessing should add perspective to our lives.
- Knowing that one day we will see God should intensify a thirst for us to know as much about God as possible.
- The highlight of our existence is to see God. Even though sin is pleasurable for a season, the season is very temporary; seeing God is everlasting! Therefore, may we confront the pleasures of sin with the overwhelming joy of seeing God.
- Positionally, having a pure heart is the work of God, but practically, having a pure heart is us dying to self. The process is not easy but the reward is so worth it.