Knowledge does not save, but a transformed desire towards purity does

Matthew 5:1-11  Knowledge does not save, but a transformed desire towards purity does

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Background

The knowledgeable present an appearance of purity, but Jesus teaches that the pure in heart are those who desires to know God and to become like Him. To such, God will bestow the gift of eternal life. Today’s devotion teaches us that knowledge does not save, but a transformed desire towards purity does.

Observation

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

The blessing of the pure in heart is the privilege of seeing the face of God. To see God is synonymous with to know God. In Moses’s case, God responds to Moses’s request to see Him by letting His goodness and mercy pass before him (see Exodus 33:18-19). And the result of knowing God is the impartation of eternal life. Jesus says,

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3

Clearly, the coveted prize here is not just to know God, but rather to receive the gift of eternal life. What is eternal life? How is eternal life a blessing? Eternal life is the heavenly life, the spirit-filled life, the god-kind of life. In a nutshell, eternal life is defined as the very life of Christ. The apostle John testifies concerning what he has observed with his own eyes, the life of Christ; the eternal life,

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life. 1 John 1:1-2

In observing and knowing Christ’s manner of living, the apostles becomes enlightened to live out the eternal life through the Spirit. Many seek material wealth, but the answer to man’s quest for happiness is eternal life; a blessed life of peace, righteousness and prosperity.

The text stipulates a criteria: the privilege of seeing God belongs only to the pure in heart. Pure (katharos in Greek) means clean, clear and innocent. The question: who are the pure in heart? Who decides if one is pure enough? In this context, purity is seen and approved through the eyes of God, not of the world. And it follows that the one whom God considers as pure and cleansed is pure indeed!

Jesus, towards the end of His ministry instructs His disciples to continue to abide in God and to bear fruit even though Jesus has already cleansed them by His word, “You are already clean (katharos) because of the word which I have spoken to you.” John 15:3. Jesus meant to say that although the disciples are still being sanctified, they are already clean: justified and adopted as part of God’s family. Prior to this (in the foot washing episode), Jesus, in responding to Peter’s request to bathe his whole body says, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean (katharos); and you are clean, but not all of you.” John 13:10. Jesus, in considering Peter as completely clean refuses to bathe his whole body. However, there is one among them (Judas) who is unclean.

Therefore, the text may be paraphrased as follows: Blessed are those whom God considers as pure, for they shall know God and receive eternal life. The pure in heart are in no uncertain terms those who hunger and thirst after God; those who desire to become like Him, not seeking to establish a righteousness of their own, but of God.

Truth

Knowledge does not save, but a transformed desire towards purity does.

Man must seek to be pure in the eyes of God, not in his own eyes. Many, (the churched and unchurched alike) considers themselves to be pure but not according to God’s standard of purity. In the days of Paul, the majority of the Jews fail to enter salvation because they use their knowledge and works to veil the impurity of their hearts. God’s standard of purity requires a desire to know God and to live according to His likeness. Paul explains the cause of the Jews’ failure,

Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. Romans 9:32

The Jews put up an appearance of righteousness through their cursory charities (by works). Although they are teachers of the scripture, they do not live out what they teach (they did not pursue it by faith). We see a trend in today’s churches where members covet Christ’s forgiveness but not His likeness. Apart from Christ’s salvific work, they know little of the truth He stands for. Thus, they define purity as one who has knowledge of forgiveness as opposed to one who desires the truth and live it out. Knowledge does not purify, but a transformed desire towards purity does. Forgiveness alone does not bring salvation. In order for man to saved, he must endeavour to live like Christ all the days of his life. When we make a commitment towards Christ-likeness, God considers our hearts and deals with us accordingly. In the case of Jesus’s disciples, although all have made the commitment to Jesus. But Jesus, knowing their hearts says, “you are clean, but not all of you” referring to the treachery of Judas (see John 13:10).

Do not judge according to appearance, but according to the heart.

Man judges by looking at another’s appearance and works. But only God can see through a man’s packaging and into the secrets of the heart. Esau is considered as stately in the eyes of his father while Jacob is despised because of his underhanded ways. However, God sees not as man sees; Jacob is pure and Esau is rebellious! As we know it, Jacob encounters God in a dream while fleeing from his brother who plans to kill him. Against all odds, Jacob becomes the heir of Abraham’s blessing.

Therefore, let us not judge another hastily because of their weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. Lest we find ourselves running against God’s anointed, like so many have. History has repeatedly shown what man has rejected have become the cornerstone of God’s salvation. The likes of king David, Jacob, the apostle Paul, Jesus and His disciples are by the world’s standards unlikely candidates, but they are clearly the chosen of God.

Application

Do you often judge yourself as incapable of great exploits? Like Jacob, you may not be considered as top-shelf material even by your parents. However, God looks at the heart, and He will anoint the pure-hearted so that God’s purpose will be established. Therefore, let us not be distracted by the opinions of others but work on sanctifying ourselves. In due time, He will exalt you as an instrument of His choice.

Dear Lord, I desire to sanctify myself as an instrument for your use. Create in me a heart that loves others unconditionally as you have loved me. Help me to rejoice in truth and not in the tragedies of others. Purify my heart and cause me to understand your truth and to walk in it. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

 


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