Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Have you ever noticed that when you insert an object (e.g., a straw) in a glass of liquid (e.g., water) that the straw looks like it is split in two or bent? A straw looks this way in water because the light is forced to change course or refract when it moves from air into the water. The light will again change course when it leaves the water to go back into the air. However, if there were no liquid contained in the glass then the straw would not appear bent (the glass to air transition and back causes very slight refraction). Similarly, what we perceive about things around us is dependent upon the contents of our spiritual hearts.
In the same way, what you believe about God is bent or distorted by the things you have learned by spiritual heart (1) in life. For instance, if you had a father that was merciful and fair then you will likely see God as the excellent Father that He is in reality (Psalms 68:5. Psalms 103:13. Jude 1:1. 1 John 3:1). However, if you had an overly strict father you will likely perceive God as waiting for you to make a mistake so He can catch and condemn you!
What do you see first: young or old female? It depends on your who you are.
This has been called the “lens” principle and is what I believe our selected verse is conveying. This principle can be simply stated as who we are determines what we see including how we see others (2). That is, we project upon others our personal biases, motives, prejudices, and idiosyncrasies, etc. For example, what if a female investigator is assigned to investigate a male leader who has been charged with verbal abuse by a female worker. Perhaps this female investigator has seen numerous cases where the male is guilty and may even have been the victim of such a situation in their past. Consequentially, it would be easy for the investigator to project her biases upon the male, thus seeing him guilty, when in fact it was the female worker using false accusations in an attempt to discredit the male leader. Why? Perhaps discrediting the leader would be used to effectively render ineffectual an evaluation that revealed the female worker’s previously undocumented substandard performance that had existed for years?
Now that we are equipped with this understanding of the lens principle we re-state our verse… successful are those that have a pure heart for they shall see God as He really is (i.e., without distortion) (Matthew 5:7). Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where demons, fallen angels, Satan and this fallen world system (Ephesians 6:12. 1 John 2:16. 1 John 5:19) are constantly bombarding us with thoughts that are contrary to God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). If we continually listen to these thoughts they will so fill our spiritual hearts that we cannot see God as He is in reality (Mark 4:18,19. 1 John 4:12).
The solution to this problem is to transform our thinking (1) by reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God (i.e., the Bible) (Romans 12:2) in the power of the Holy Spirit (1) (Ephesians 1:17-23) and then giving to others the grace, mercy, and compassion that God reveals and gives to us. (Luke 11:39-41. Luke 6:38) This will over time remove and replace the thoughts of our spiritual hearts that are contrary to God with those that accurately portray Him as He is in reality (Psalms 51:10. Psalms 119:18. Jeremiah 24:7).
"By mercy and love, truth and fidelity [to God and man--not by sacrificial offerings], iniquity is purged out of the heart, and by the reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord men depart from and avoid evil." Proverbs 16:6 AMP
However, some that start the renewal process do not finish it and have a limited view of God. For example, some may study the truth that God is full of grace, mercy and compassion exclusively thus developing the fact God will forgive sin if we but repent (Daniel 9:9. Proverbs 28:13. 1 John 1:9). While this is certainly true it is equally true that God is full of holiness, righteousness, and justice. Those that do not learn this latter aspect of God would question how a loving God could judge it right for someone who appears to be a good person to go to Hell upon their death (1) (Luke 18:19. Romans 3:23. 1 Samuel 16:7. Jeremiah 17:9-11).
Juxtaposed to this would be someone that exclusively studied the truth that God is holy, righteous and just with the result that they become unmerciful and condemning to all that do not measure up to what they consider God’s standards. Those that do not learn the grace, mercy and compassion side of God might question why God would judge it right for someone who appears to be a bad person to go to Heaven upon their death (1) (Ephesians 2:8,9. John 3:36;5:24. Romans 10:9,10,13) .
This duality of God (1)(6) can be illustrated by a simple electrical circuit where both wires must be connected to a light bulb in order for it to illuminate the darkness. Similarly, we must understand that God is full of grace, mercy and compassion AND full of holiness, righteousness, and justice in order to illuminate the whole truth about Him. Then we can see Him as He is in truth (Hebrews 12:14. 1 Corinthians 13:12. John 8:12. John 12:46. 1 John 1:5,7. John 1:1-5. Matthew 4:15-17).
Furthermore, seeing God as He really also affects who we are due to the spiritual principle that you become like who or what you worship (1) for good or bad. (Psalms 115:4-8. 2 Corinthians 3:18) That is, by disciplining ourselves to purify our spiritual hearts we will see God as He is with the result that we will become a people that are full of grace, mercy, and compassion AND full of holiness, righteousness and justice (i.e., just like Him!) (1 John 3:2).
In conclusion, realize because God is full of holiness, righteousness, and justice He cannot tolerate or overlook our sin. Nevertheless, because God is also full of grace, mercy, and compassion He has provided a way for sinners to escape His wrath by sacrificing His spotless, sinless Son Jesus Christ (1) (Isaiah 53. 1 Peter 2:22-25). He was the only one who was qualified to be a sacrifice for sin, and because He never sinned, His pure blood can wash away our sins (Revelation 1:5; Hebrews 13:20), allowing us to stand justified before God on the Day of Judgment (Titus 3:7; Hebrews 10:19). However, we must take the necessary steps (1) to appropriate Jesus’ blood to our life (Romans 10:9,10,13).
Consequently, the justice and mercy of God have never contradicted each other (Deuteronomy 32:4). In fact, our Creator God balances the two qualities perfectly. (Exodus 34:6,7. Psalm 89:14. Psalms 85:10). Now that is something to have a BEAUTIFUL ATTITUDE about!
Lastly, if your god leaves you fearful then you need a new God! (3) (Exodus 20:20. Zephaniah 3:17. 1 John 4:16,18. 2 Timothy 1:7. Romans 8:15,16). A God that you can approach without fear – the real God! (Isaiah 54:9,10. 1 Timothy 1:17) A God that no matter what you do to please Him He cannot love you more and whatever you do to hurt Him He cannot love you any less (1 John 3:1. Romans 8:38,39. 1 John 4:16). The God that gave his life for you (John 15:13. Romans 5:8). That is, you need God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and you find Him by knowing Jesus His unique Son! (John 3:16-21. Matthew 11:27. John 12:44,45. John 15:23. 1 John 2:23. 2 John 1:9. John 5:22,23)
The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all I need. He leads me by the quiet stream where I can rest and be refreshed. He takes away all my anxious thoughts and gives me hope. He guides me in the right direction and is utterly dependable. When I face unknown dangers, or even death, I’m not afraid. His peace overwhelms me. Even when I am attacked on all sides, I know I’m safe. His presence and provision surrounds me, and I’m comforted by His Spirit. Love and mercy always follow me, and I’m confident that I’ll remain with Him for ever. (4) (Psalms 23:1-6)
See attached PowerPoint for additional study of this topic (5)
Links to this Series:
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part I: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part II: Blessed are those who Mourn
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part III: Blessed are the Meek
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part IV: Blessed are those that Hunger and Thirst
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part V: Blessed are the Merciful
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part VI: Blessed are the Pure in Heart
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part VII: Blessed are the Peacemakers
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part VIII: Blessed are those who are Persecuted
(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) Winning With People by John Maxwell
(3) Stepping Stones to the Father Heart of God by Margaret Silvestor, Sovereign World Ltd, ISBN 978-1852406233
(4) My Shepherd by Ron Scurfield, Seeds of the Kingdom Daily Devotional August 21, 2013, Ellel Ministries International; https://seedsofthekingdom.org/devotionals/1851/my-shepherd.php
(5) Adapted from: What the Bible Teaches about Mercy, Authored by Rex B. Andrews May 1, 1964, Published in 1985 by Zion Faith Homes, Zion, Illinois 60099
(6) Binary Truths by Jilly Lyon Taylor, Seeds of the Kingdom Daily Devotional October 15, 2016, Ellel Ministries International: http://www.seedsofthekingdom.com/devotionals/3028/binary-truths.php