viernes, 4 de abril de 2014

Purity of Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" Hebrews 12:14.  

I think that seeing God is the goal of every believer, but then are we paying attention to our heart's condition?

(1) Our heart can be purified by God when we confess & repent from our sins-
First is important to recognize the effect this harden heart cause to our spiritual life & that we are not exempt of getting it, so we can look to God for help. The Holy Spirit can show us our heart’s true condition so we can repent.  
Search me O God, and know my heartsee if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”   Psalm 139:23-24

Have mercy upon me, O God, .. blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions:and my sin is ever before me.  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight...Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Psalm51:1-3,10-11 ; (also Acts 8:22).

Our heart becomes hard because of unrepented sin, especially if the sin is continual.  
'But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin' Heb 3:13.
Some of these sins can be very subtle, like pride, which will cause our hearts to harden, or like unforgiveness which causes bitterness to grow into our heart, "looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" Hebrews 12:15This is why it's so important to examine ourself as often as possible. Lamentations 3:40, 2 Cor.13:5

but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” Romans 2:5.  

God can heal any heart once we recognize our disobedience and repent of our sins, but repentance is more than just words, true repentance manifests itself in a changed life.

Jesus also taught about the heart in Mark7:7-8,14-22;Matthew15:10-20.

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. ....
And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23. all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
We all tend to look at the outward of man, in Israel at those times, there were many regulations regarding external purity but God wasn't and still He isn't interested in them, God looks the heart, He cannot be deceived (1Sam. 16:7).
 “for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men.” (I Kings 8:39 ).

 Jesus was also talking about the heart of men when he said:

 “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew23:26. 

Our actions or behavior, and even our words, are product or symptoms of our heart's condition: "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh" Luke6:45; (Also Matt.12:34; Psalm 37:30)  

That 's why the Lord told us :
" Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Matthew 7:16

If we pay attention and clean our heart first, then we will fix the problems of a corrupt communication, evil thoughts and bad deeds. Because purity of heart will reflect in a pure life.

(2) Let's make sure GOD is our 1st priority in our life. Purity of heart happens because of being close to God.

The first of all the commandments to the believer is to love God with all your heart. Mark 12:28-34. So after a heart is redeemed or cleaned, the next step to take its to submit that life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that is how He can work in us and change us.

In a world filled with so many distractions (like mentioned at the soil/heart with thorns), the story of Mary and Martha can help us understand better and help us to set our priorities in order. 
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.Luke 10:38-42; See also (John12:1-8)

Mary had discovered the one thing needful. Some called true worship, others devotion of her heart and listening the Word of God, but what there is no doubt about is that Mary put all her things aside, gave her full and undivided attention to hear the words of Jesus, to be in His presence. By Jesus owns words we can understand that nothing is more important than that.  

He doesn't say Martha was doing wrong by serving, but that she was worrying about  many things -while serving (including worrying about her sister's behavior), the word cumbered (#G4049) means over-occupied, too busy. The theologian John Wesley says about it: 'The Greek word properly signifies to be drawn different ways at the same time, and admirably expresses the situation of a mind, surrounded (as Martha's then was) with so many objects of care, that it hardly knows which to attend to first'.

 It was true Martha sought to honor Jesus. All was done for Him, but it was done in her way, what she thought was right at that moment and not in His way. A person busy or distracted like Martha cannot listen to Jesus until she learns to be still in His presence. The bible teach us to care one for another (1Cor.12:25), so it's good to serve one another but one important lesson here is that the Lord is our first priority, we should never neglect spending time with Jesus, time in His presence, hearing from Him (we spend more time talking to Him than listening). How can we say then we love someone we don't spend quality time with? 

John15:1-7, explains something very similar :

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide (Strong's G3306 - remain, not depart) in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you

There is a vital relationship between the branch and the vine, they work together, but the branches have no life without the vine. The fruit of the Spirit and good works should flow from a Christ-centered life, but good works do not produce a Christ-centered life or either help us get closer to God. When we abide in Jesus, He empowers us to give much fruit. But it takes  time to fellowship with God on a regular basis - just as it does with any important relationship. 
- When we are not saved we come to Him just as we are, He will cleans us, but now that we are saved, that He redeemed us, we look to enter into God's presence by preparing our heart, remember He is Holy. 

As we come close to the Lord, the Holy Spirit
will reveal any sin to us. Then we confess our sin to the Lord and accept His loving mercy and forgiveness. In order to worship Him as He desires, we must first "put off" our sin and "put on" Christ.  

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 3:10-12; Hebrews 4:15-16 
The Scriptures tells us that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth John 4:24

Being in the throne room of God or the Holy of holies isn’t something we can make happen with our own minds. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. We shouldn't put our faith in our own imagination or others. But lets put our faith in God.
After our sins are forgiven & our hearts cleansed we can come closer into God's presence by thanksgiving, praise, and worship.

"We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool" (Psalm 132:7

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4.  
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3
Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues”. Psalm 31:19-20.  

- The secret place of the Most High is the presence of God! 

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress:my God; in him will I trust." Psalm 91:1-2.

(3) Our heart can be purified by faith, being renewed by His Word. Not somebody's interpretation of God's Word, but the pure Word of God.

"For the word of God is quick (Strong's G2198 alive, active) , and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" Hebrews 4:12 

 "Faith comes by hearing & hearing by the Word of God" Rom.10:17. God cleans our hearts by the washing of the Word of God (Ephe.5:26), when we have faith or believe what He says.  'purifying their hearts by faith' (Acts 15:8-9).

 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” Psalm119:9-11

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" John 17: 17  

The mind leads our actions. The thoughts and intents of our hearts need to be changed through keeping and meditating on the Word of God. It's like exchanging our viewpoint for God’s (Rom. 12:2; Isa. 55:8f; Ps. 51:10; 119:9-11; Pr. 3:3; 7:3; 2 Cor. 4:16; 10:4-6; Eph. 2:22).

 We need then to study and believe God’s Word to avoid hardness of heart. We must recognize and submit to God’s Ways & not ours. But I'm not talking here about other books or men's ideas about God, but the pure Word of God.
Let's ask God for wisdom, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, (James 1:5).  But there is also an earthly wisdom that we need to be careful of. James 3:13-18

for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” 2Cor.10:4-6

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. ...9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Romans 12: 1-2,9-13.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. John15:1-3

(4) Our heart can be purified by trials (Deut. 8:2; Jer. 17:10; Ps. 139:23-24). One of the reasons that God allows trials is to reveal the condition of our hearts, to show its true colors, that we might see our sin and deal with it through confession/repentance and faith in God’s provision. Our response to trials reveals our heart. Will we trust in God and His promises ?, or will we allow the problems to cause us to grumble & complain? (Hebrew3:7-8,12-13, 19).  
What is the true state of my heart? not what I think about it but what is its true state for real?

(5 ) And also we can help to keep our hearts pure by exhorting one another:

But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews3:13; & by The ministry of other true Christians as iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17)

In resume, Purity of heart happens because of being close to God! So to avoid hardness of heart, we must make sure frequently that we are in a proper relationship with God. Jesus said: All sin begins in the heart. & also the Word says than sin separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2, Jer5:25). So if we deal with our thought life and submit them to God, (like mentioned above on point 2) we'll then stop sin at the root.

We need not to look any further. Everything we need as Christians to be conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus, was already given to us: Redemption by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who teach us, guide us & empower us to do God's will.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."  John 14:26 

Let's worship our awesome & wonderful Lord Jesus:

Lord You are Holy