REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of April 18, 2021
Strive for Purity of Heart: Matt. 5:8; 1 Cor. 13:6
We are in Week 11 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. For the next two weeks, we will be looking at rules taken directly from the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are a series of “blessed be” statements found in Matthew 5, and the term comes from the Latin beatus, which means “blessed or happy.” This week we’ll look at Rule 4.24: Strive for Purity of Heart.
In Matt. 5:8 Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” The word translated “pure” in this verse is the Greek word for clean, clear, or innocent. Jesus not only tells us that we must be clean and innocent he also tells us that this is an inward, not outward, state. The religious of Jesus’ day believed a right relationship with God was achieved through rigorous adherence to the Law of Moses and the interpretation of the Law by their Rabbis. But Jesus contends that what really matters is the heart, and that creates a huge problem for us, for Romans 3 tells us that there are none righteous, not even one. So, how do we achieve purity of heart?
In passages such as Psalm 51 and 2 Cor. 5:21, we see that purity of heart is first and foremost the gracious work of God. Washed in the blood of Christ, our souls are made clean. In a mysterious act of grace and mercy, our wretched sinfulness is exchanged for the pure righteousness of Jesus Christ through his finished work on the cross. Just as under the Law the high priest was purified by the hyssop branch dipped in the blood of the sacrifice, so we, too, have been purified by the blood of Jesus. And the beautiful thing is that each Person of the Trinity is involved in our purification. The Father, in his grace and mercy, provides the plan for salvation and passes over former sins. The son willingly offers himself as the purifying sacrifice, washing us whiter than snow. And the Holy Spirit applies that sacrifice to us, creating in us a new heart. Thus, those of us who have accepted God’s offer of redemption can now see God, for we have been made pure. But if being pure of heart is the gracious act of God and not something we deserve or earn, how do we strive for it?
Though the purifying of our heart through salvation is solely the work of a gracious God, we nevertheless have a responsibility to steward what has been entrusted to us. Until our salvation is complete and we are united with Christ for all eternity, we are to guard the purity that has been given to us and strive to prevent it from being defiled. We are commanded to not quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). We are told that our minds and consciences can be corrupted (Titus 1:15-16). Accordingly, we are also commanded to focus our attention on those things which protect the purity of our hearts (Phil. 4:8). We are to strive for purity of heart.
- Read through Ps. 51 and 2 Cor. 5:21. What do these passages tell us about our salvation?
- Read Phil. 4:8. How are you at filtering what comes into your life through these filters? Why are these filters so important?
- Think through your personal life. How are you at stewarding the purity that has been entrusted to you? Where are the areas where you might need to make adjustments?