As we look within to empty ourselves of us to make room for Christ in us, we empty out spiritual pride, mourn for our sin, become meek, hunger for the Lord’s righteousness, and become merciful, which leads us to becoming pure in heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8)
The Greek word used here for “pure” is katharos. It means to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.” The word can refer specifically to that which is purified by fire or by pruning. John the Baptist told people that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11). Malachi speaks of the Messiah as being like a “refiner’s fire” (Mal. 3:2). Jesus refers to believers as being the branches and to Himself as being the vine (John 15:1-17). For a vine to produce fruit, it must be pruned. Those who are truly “pure,” then, are those who have been declared innocent because of the work of Jesus and who are being sanctified by His refining fire and His pruning.
The Greek word for “heart” in today’s verse is kardeeah. This can be applied to the physical heart. But it also refers to the spiritual center of life. It is where thoughts, desires, sense of purpose, will, understanding, and character reside. So, to be pure in heart means to be blameless in who we actually are. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
Jesus once compared the Pharisees to whitewashed tombs, which are beautiful on the outside but full of death inside (Matt. 23:25-28). The Pharisees focused their attention on signs of outward purity for the world to see, but God wants us to have pure hearts that overflow into pure lives. “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
Being pure in heart involves having a singleness of heart toward God. A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. The pure heart is marked by transparency and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. It is more than an external purity of behavior; it is an internal purity of soul. The only way we can be truly pure in heart is to give our lives to Jesus and ask Him to do the cleansing work. Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
God is the one who makes our hearts pure – by the sacrifice of His Son and through His sanctifying work in our lives. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)
All the beatitudes, including this one, present our free will with a choice between the old life we know and the newness of life that our Lord graciously offers us to experience. Christ promises us there will come a day when we who love Jesus stand before the Lord with pure hearts and see Him face to face (Rev. 22:4). And that’s why we are to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).