Matthew 5:8

Setting and Overview
The sixth Beatitude provides a rich word picture with significant cultural and biblical context. It describes a characteristic that would resonate with listeners and readers from many backgrounds and would also have rich connotations to those familiar with the Old Testament. It also offers a promise that itself serves as a powerful measure of one’s relationship with God.
Purity is an expression used in both the Old and New Testaments in connection with water and metals (usually gold) to indicate that something is clean, uncontaminated, or unmixed (Ezekiel 36:25, Revelation 21:18, 21.) This makes it an effective word picture to communicate that something is undivided and perfect. The Mosaic Law makes frequent distinctions between food and items that are clean and unclean (Leviticus 11:39-45) which served as a reminder to the people of Israel that they were called to be holy, or distinct as God’s people from other nations (Ezekiel 44:23.) Similarly, Christians are commanded to not behave as the world does because we have been set apart and thus are supposed to strive for a purity that reflects God’s holiness and demonstrates that we belong to Him (I Peter 1:14-16.)
Unfortunately, too often people view being holy as simply cleaning up our external behavior, and in doing so, are following the lead of the Pharisees (Luke 11:37-40, Matthew 15:1-19.) Jesus makes it clear that this is not the type of holiness He has in mind by specifying that He is calling for purity of the heart. The heart was seen as reflecting of people’s inner motivations and orientation, both their emotions and thinking, and so to be pure in heart is to be completely committed to purity. Ultimately, this will only true when we are completely committed to God (Psalm 86:11, Deuteronomy 6:5, Luke 11:41, II Corinthians 11:2-3.)
Those who are pure in heart will appreciate the remarkable wealth of the promise that is given in this Beatitude. We cannot fully see God now (Exodus 33:17-23, I Corinthians 13:12, John 1:18), but He nevertheless reveals His glory to us through the Son (II Corinthians 4:6, John 1:14, John 14:9), and we look forward to one day fully realizing the depth of that promise (I Corinthians 13:12.) For now, we must commit to living holy lives that reflect our relationship with Him (Psalm 24:3-6, Hebrews 12:14) and we look forward to one day being glorified and seeing Him as He is (I John 3:2-3.)

Examination and Application
Paul worries in II Corinthians 11:3 that the church in Corinth is not maintaining the sincere and pure devotion that they owe to Christ, that other things are competing for their affection. We must likewise be on guard ourselves that we would similarly be led astray. If we are truly devoted to Christ, then that will be evident in our external behaviors, but we must also not fall into the trap of concerning ourselves only with what others can see. We must also painfully examine our motivations and heart to identify the things to which we are more committed than Christ. The wonderful promise is that the closer we get to Christ, the more that we will desire to grow even closer, and the more that He will draw us closer (James 4:8.) The more that we are single-heartedly focused on the hope of seeing Him more fully, the purer in heart that we will become (I John 3:2-3.)
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