“Your Word Is Truth”
“Happy Are the Pure in Heart”
THROUGHOUT God’s Word the heart is made prominent; its importance is stressed. In fact, the heart is mentioned some 740 times from Genesis through Revelation.
Typical of the importance that God’s Word attaches to the heart are the words found at Proverbs 4:23: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.”
Most fittingly, in his Sermon on the Mount Jesus stressed the need to keep the heart pure. This was the sixth of his ‘beatitudes’ or happinesses. In fact, he promises those having pure hearts one of the highest rewards. And what is that? That they “will see God,” Him whom no man has ever seen; nor, indeed, can anyone of flesh and blood see Him and yet live.—Matt. 5:8; Ex. 33:20; John 1:18.
The heart is the seat of motives, emotions, affections and desires. The Greek word here rendered “pure” is used by Greek writers to describe not only that which is free from contamination, such as pure water, but also that which is unadulterated, undiluted, unalloyed, such as pure milk, pure wine, pure silver and pure gold. And it was also used to describe persons that were morally pure, free from guilt.
What does it mean then for one to have a pure heart? For one thing it means that one has an undivided heart, a heart that gives Jehovah God what he requires of us, namely, exclusive devotion. (Ex. 20:5) As the psalmist prayed: “Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Ps. 86:11) Christians must serve Jehovah God with “a complete heart,” must love him with their “whole heart.” Those coming short in this respect are the ones to whom the disciple James wrote: “Purify your hearts, you indecisive ones.”—1 Chron. 28:9; Mark 12:29-31; Jas. 4:8.
A pure heart is also a heart that is morally clean. All manner of uncleanness may be harbored in the heart, even as Jesus showed: “wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications”—all these defile the heart as well as man himself. To have a pure heart one must keep clean from “every defilement of flesh and spirit.”—Matt. 15:19, 20; 2 Cor. 7:1.
Another thing that causes many to have hearts that are not pure is hypocrisy. Thus God’s Word tells us that “the objective of this mandate is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.” If we are to please God, we may not have ulterior motives for doing things as did the religious leaders who opposed Jesus. He repeatedly denounced their hypocrisy in the strongest of terms.—1 Tim. 1:5; Matt. 6:1-6; 23:13-36; Luke 12:1.
Strong faith is another requisite of the pure heart. So Christians are counseled: “Beware, brothers, for fear there should ever develop in any one of you a wicked heart lacking faith by drawing away from the living God.” Yes, they must ‘trust in Jehovah with all their hearts’ if they would have pure hearts.—Heb. 3:12; Prov. 3:5, 6.
What will aid you to have a pure heart? The fear of displeasing Jehovah God, the fear of incurring his anger will aid you to do so. “The fear of Jehovah means the hating of bad.” “The fear of Jehovah is pure, standing forever.” No question about it, having a wholesome fear to displease Jehovah God will help you to have a pure heart.—Prov. 8:13; Ps. 19:9.
Another aid to pureness of heart is a love of righteousness, a determination to have a good conscience. Nothing defiles a heart as much as a bad conscience, so acting in such a way as to have a good conscience will help you to keep your heart pure. The Bible shows that the apostle Paul was very concerned about having a good conscience.—Acts 23:1; 24:16; 2 Cor. 1:12.
A warm, loving, grateful appreciation of all that Jehovah God has done for you will also help you to have a pure heart. Love of God will move you to keep his commandments, and these are not burdensome. Among those commandments is the one to safeguard, above all else, your heart.—Prov. 4:23; 1 John 5:3.
Helpful to keeping your heart pure is also the hope of the reward of everlasting life, in the heavens or in an earthly paradise, that God holds out to all those who truly love and serve Him. “Everyone who has this hope set upon him purifies himself just as that one is pure.”—1 John 3:3.
Fear to displease God, a good conscience, grateful appreciation and the hope of everlasting life—how can you strengthen these? Jehovah God has provided three basic aids. One of these is his Word. Read it daily. Study it. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Another aid is God’s holy spirit, which aids you in understanding his Word and in strengthening your determination to have a pure heart. (Luke 11:13; 1 Cor. 2:9, 10) And God has also provided a visible organization, a “faithful and discreet slave” that provides spiritual food for you. It publishes Bible study aids and arranges for meetings where you can associate with fellow Christians who likewise are concerned with having pure hearts.—Matt. 24:45-47; Heb. 10:23-25.
Will all who truly have pure hearts literally see God face to face? No, only those will to whom these ‘beatitudes’ or happinesses have primary application. These are Jesus’ anointed footstep followers, to whom it is written: “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him [God] just as he is.” (1 John 3:2) How will this be possible? Because they will possess incorruptible, immortal spirit bodies, being sharers of the divine nature. Concerning them it is written: “For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality.” And again, “He has freely given us the precious and very grand promises, that through these you may become sharers in divine nature.”—1 Cor. 15:53; 2 Pet. 1:4.
Will these be the only ones to realize the happiness mentioned at Matthew 5:8? No, for there is more than one way of seeing God. One can see him literally or figuratively. Remember that ancient faithful servant of Jehovah God, Job? After God had enlightened him and set him straight, Job was able to say to God: “I have heard about you, but now my own eye does see you.” (Job 42:5) Those who comprise the “great crowd” mentioned at Revelation 7:9, will see God as Job did, with ‘the eyes of their heart.’ This was one of the reasons why Jesus came to earth, to reveal his heavenly Father to men, that they might ‘see’ him.—Luke 10:22; John 14:9; Eph. 1:18.
So let all who love God and righteousness strive to be pure in heart and so be assured of seeing God, either literally in the “first resurrection,” or figuratively, with the eyes of their heart.—Rev. 20:6.