As we continue through our series about Kingdom Character, we’ll be taking time to explore the last of the “inward aspects” of the Beatitudes, the verses that address inward changes and what it looks like to live a life with authenticity—a life that wears no masks before God or people.
At the core of an authentic life is a pure heart. The heart is the source of the best and worst of us. Since sin interrupts our relationship with God, we are charged to guard our heart diligently as all that we do flows from it.
Read Matthew 5.8.
The word “blessed” in Greek is makarios. It means happy, fortunate, content, fulfilled, satisfied and joyful. It is a state of spiritual well-being and prosperity resulting from being in relationship with God.
Question: What does “blessed” mean to you?
It’s a good thing to be blessed. Who wouldn’t want to be blessed? Jesus not only promises us we will be blessed, but tells us about the kind of blessings we can receive. The Sermon on the Mount was good news to Jesus’ audience because they were in bad shape. They were politically conquered, financially oppressed and spiritually broken. They longed for someone who would deliver them from their natural sufferings and frustrations, but also from the guilt, shame and remorse that plagued their souls. They desperately wanted to know how they could “see God” and be delivered from their sufferings. Unfortunately, they fell into the belief that rigorous religious traditions would bring them closer to God.
Question: Can you remember a time where you felt you had to work for God’s approval? Did it feel life-giving?
Read Psalm 24.1–4.
The Psalmist asks, “Who can see God?” and answers with “the one who has clean hands and a pure heart.” To the ancient Hebrews, this promise of seeing was not merely about seeing God with their eyes. It implied taking hold of God, of being able to possess Him and enjoy His presence. This is only possible for those whose hearts have been made pure by the blood of Christ. Like Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John 3.3, saying, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again,” no one can take part in the kingdom of God unless they’re internally transformed.
Read Mark 7.14–23.
The Pharisees, those who followed religious traditions and the written law very strictly, were continually working on their outside behaviors, while ignoring the inside condition of the heart. They were trying to master internal brokenness with external activity, and in their adherence to the law, they had forgotten love, humility, justice, mercy and truth.
In Mark 7, we see Jesus exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who were calling His disciples defiled because they ate without washing their hands. Jesus dismantled their entire system of an external approach to God by emphasizing a heart approach. In order to experience a real relationship with God, there has to be a substantial change that takes place at the core of our being—our hearts must be made pure.
Purity is defined as being free from the defilement of sin. Ultimately, sin pollutes our hearts. It makes us less of the person God created us to be. We’re unable to be the witness of Christ that God intended us to be, and we’re blocked from seeing God clearly in truth and spirit. Sin robs us from experiencing God and being a part of what He’s doing in the world. We alone can’t purify our hearts in order to be made acceptable before God, but the good news is that making our hearts pure is exactly what Christ gave His life for!
Read Ezekiel 36.25–27.
In Ezekiel, we see God’s promise to not only cleanse our hearts, but also give us a heart that desires to walk in His ways and follow His leading. When God changes our hearts, we go from “I have to,” to “I get to,” and that switch on the inside makes our walk with God a whole lot more fun!
Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a pure heart.
- Authenticity. We no longer have a need for masks because honesty and sincerity with God and others becomes one of our greatest longings.
- Divine Dissatisfaction. A pure heart hungers for greater purity—it is dissatisfied with present sin because it goes against the grain of our new nature.
- Love. Loving others (believers or not) the way we’ve been loved (with unconditional love), becomes our aim. This changes things!
- Passion. A pure heart beats with an intense pursuit to know and worship God, to see His will fulfilled in our lives, to bring Him glory (to make His name famous), and to advance His kingdom!
Question: Is there at least one characteristic you see God working to develop in your life? Is there at least one characteristic you lack that you would like prayer for?
Read Proverbs 4.23.
The heart is the source of life. We know that God can purify and change our hearts, but once He has begun that process, God charges us to be diligent in guarding it!
How do we guard our hearts?
- Depend on God’s ability to help guard it. (Read Galatians 2.20–21.)
- Don’t walk…Run! We’re to flee from evil, and pursue the things of God’s kingdom. We’re also told to do it along with others who are doing the same thing. It’s clear that life in community produces victory in our walk with Christ. (Read 2 Timothy 2.22.)
- Be accountable. Again, we are stronger and better together! (Read Proverbs 28.13.)
- Have a God-breathed plan. In order to guard our hearts and grow in purity, there are certain things, people and places we need to intentionally avoid. Have a predetermined plan of action. (Read Proverbs 5.8.)
Question: What plan do you have in place to guard your heart? What steps will you take to stay accountable to your plan?
Read 1 John 1.5–7.
God’s agenda is to give His children a pure heart so we can be in a place where we can daily see and experience Him. The blood of Jesus washes every stain away and purifies our hearts, and that allows us to life a mask-free life—a life of true kingdom authenticity.