Lesson 7 May 10-16
The Pure in Heart
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Matt. 5:8; 15:18-20; Heb. 4:12, 13; 8:10; Prov. 4:23; 1 Kings 8:39; Ps. 51:3, 4, 6, 10, 17.
MEMORY TEXT: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).
KEY THOUGHT: The pure in heart are those who search for God with all their heart, and to such God promises to reveal Himself.
In addressing the "pure in heart," Jesus was obviously not referring to absolute moral purity, nor to irreproachable conduct. Taken in this way, this declaration would be completely foreign to the real meaning of the Beatitudes and to the essence of the gospel. Jesus confirmed this when He said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" to repentance (Matt. 9:13, RSV).
Jesus addresses people who are good-hearted, straightforward, simple, sincere, honest with themselves and with God. Here Jesus speaks to these people and promises them a vision of God because of the purity of their intentions. Only one thing is important: to enter into a living and personal relationship with Jesus—to live in His presence in this life so that we may live with Him forever in the life made new.
The word heart is used hundreds of times in the Bible, but only rarely—not to say never—does the word refer to the physical organ itself. Furthermore, in a figurative sense, the Bible authors give the word a much broader meaning than modern languages attribute to it. For us today the heart is usually linked with emotions: in the Bible it designates the inward man, the intimate, hidden area of the being, as well as the center of emotions and the intellect.
It should be noted that Bible writers considered the heart to be the seat of the intellect and, more specifically, the center of the will. From the heart good and evil thoughts issue, and in the heart resolutions take shape that determine human destiny.
"When Jesus speaks of the new heart, He means the mind, the life, the whole being."—Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol.4, p. 1164.
Why is it so crucial to keep our heart with all diligence? Prov. 4:23. In what ways can we do this?
These words of wisdom that we considered clearly tell us three important things about keeping a special thing that is vital to our Christian life:
What should we keep? Our heart, the center of our whole being.
How should we keep it? With all diligence.
Why should we keep it that way? Because it is so critical to all aspects of our lives. Our spiritual development and eternal destiny issue from it and are determined by it.
What did Jesus refer to when He spoke of purity of heart? Matt. 5:8.
It was not ceremonial purity that Jesus had in mind (Matt. 15:18-20; 23:25), but inward cleanness of heart. If the motives are pure, the life will be pure.
"Those with pure hearts have forsaken sin as a ruling principle in the life, and their lives are without reserve consecrated to God. ... To be 'pure in heart' does not mean that one is absolutely sinless, but it does mean that his motives are right, that by the grace of Christ he has turned his back on past mistakes and that he is pressing toward the mark of perfection in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-15)."—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 327.
How does purity of heart lead you to see God?
What is the main point that Christ makes about the relationship of inward and outward defilement of a person? Matt. 15:18-20. How would you respond to someone who says that what proceeds from the mouth may defile the heart too?
The source of evil is found within the heart of man, not without. Nothing is helped when only the outside is cleansed, as the Pharisees were accustomed to doing. "First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate," Jesus advised them, "that the outside also may be clean" (Matt. 23:26, RSV). Without real transformation of the heart, we cannot bear good fruit. At best we may appear righteous to others on the outside, but within we remain "full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matt. 23:28).
What explanation is given in the Bible of the heart's disposition to evil? Jer. 17:9.
The fall of our first parents in Eden took place at the heart level, at the seat of the intellect and of the will. Adam and Eve exercised their own wills instead of following God's bidding. Disobedience to the will of God changed the heart, the very source of their being, the wellspring of all issues. That is why, since Eden, every human activity bears the stain of the heart, that is, of the mind and will.
Since Eden our hearts have been evil. It was because "the wickedness of man was great in the earth. And that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5, RSV) that warned that "as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26).
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Eph 4:17-19, KJV).
How is what the Bible terms "hardness of heart" brought about? What specific steps can you take to prevent this spiritual disease? How can this serious condition of the hardening of the heart be reversed?
GOD ALONE KNOWS THE HEART (1 Kings 8:39; Heb. 4:12, 13).
The human heart is difficult to understand. Confusion of thought makes objective judgment of oneself impossible. Others can judge only on appearance, which, because of the natural duplicity of the heart, often does not correspond to the true inner condition.
If we think we can deceive God by hiding anything from Him, we are only deceiving ourselves. He is able to read the most intimate secrets. God not only sees the things that we are able to hide from others, but also perceives things that we do not know are there. Even when "you . . . justify yourselves before men," Jesus said, "God knows your hearts" (Luke 16:15, RSV). This is why only God is in a position to judge. "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7, KJV).
How willing are we to allow God to search our hearts? Are we afraid to let Him do that? Why? Ps. 139:23, 24.
"Unfortunately, we would often rather have others be impressed by our outward righteousness than to have God deal with our true inward condition ... It is possible to act appropriately, anticipating the approving applause of others, without the inner regeneration."—Philip G. Samaan, Christ's Way to Spiritual Growth, p. 64.
Through what means does God reach the human heart? Heb. 4:12.
One will never completely understand to what extent God depends on His Word, "the sword of the Spirit," "sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit..., and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart"(Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12, RSV), to dissipate the darkness of the heart and make the light shine in. We know that by the Word of God the Spirit takes possession of the heart and leads us into all truth.
In the measure that you are willing to listen to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will open your ears (Isa. 50:5) and "the eyes of your hearts" (Eph. 1:18, RSV), "until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19, KJV). "God's holy, educating Spirit is in His word. . . . Truth is there revealed, and words and sentences are made bright and appropriate for the occasion, as the voice of God speaking to the soul."—Christ's Object Lessons, p. 132.
What was conferred on Jesus in preparation for His high priesthood in the heavenly sanctuary? Why? Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:14-16.
Pray earnestly the prayer in Psalm 139:23, 24 for God to search, to know, and to lead you.?
Before you proceed with today's lesson, study Psalm 51 in its entirety for yourself, and then try to paraphrase it in your own words. What conditions need to be met in order for God to purify your heart? Luke 10:25-37.
"This passage in David's history is full of significance to the repenting sinner. It is one of the most forcible illustrations given us of the struggles and temptations of humanity, and of genuine repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 726.
1. One must have the courage to recognize his sinful state. "I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. (Psalm 51:3, 4, KJV).
Without recognition of one's sinful state, without sincere confession of one's transgressions, there can be no forgiveness. "David's repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate his crime. No desire to escape the judgments threatened. . . It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 725.
2. One must desire to receive truth with all of one's heart. "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart" (Ps. 51:6, RSV). God uses truth to sanctify us; "thy word is truth" (John 17:17, KJV). On the one hand, by revealing our sins to us, God's Word permits us to see ourselves as we are (see James 1:23, 24); on the other hand, it shows us what we can become by His grace.
3. One must ask God to create a new heart. "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps. 51:10). new one, as He promises in Ezekiel 36:26: "A new heart also will I give you."
4. One must offer self to God as a living sacrifice. "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (verse 17, RSV). What counts in God's eyes is not the exterior aspects of holiness, but the inner dispositions of the heart and mind. (See Isa. 1:11-17.)
Do you ask God every day to give you a new heart?
Study God's marvelous promise in Hebrews 8:10. What connection do you see between His act of writing His laws on the hearts of His people and His relationship with them?
"At Mt. Sinai the Lord wrote His laws on tables of stone (Deut. 4:13), and in a book (ch. 31:24,26). He intended that these laws should also be written on the hearts of the people. But the Israelites were content to regard these statutes simply as an external code and their observance a matter of outward compliance. God did not intend that His laws should be thus regarded. He offered His people the experience of a new heart..., but they were content with only an external religion. Under the new covenant men's hearts and minds are changed . . . Men do right, not by their own strength, but because Christ dwells in the heart, living out His life in the believer. . . . They are born of the Spirit and bear the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23). The change can be effected only by divine power. Only God can 'put' His law in the hearts of His followers, though, of course, not without man's consent and cooperation."— SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 446.
What should characterize the life and activities of a genuine Christian? In response, write down the main ideas you glean from your study of the following passages:
God is not pleased with a divided heart, halfhearted service, occasional piety, diluted Christianity. God demands all or nothing. "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15, 16, KJV).
"You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him."—Steps to Christ, p. 47.
How easy or difficult is it to allow Christ to work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure?
FURTHER STUDY: Read Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, "The Beatitudes" (Matt. 5:8), pp. 24-27; Education, pp. 23-26; Christ's Object Lessons, "Things New and Old," p. 132; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 724-726; Steps to Christ, "The Test of Discipleship," pp. 57-65; Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, pp. 1097-1099.
"By faith we behold Him here and now. In our daily experience we discern His goodness and compassion in the manifestation of His providence. We recognize Him in the character of His Son. The Holy Spirit takes the truth concerning God and Him whom He hath sent, and opens it to the understanding and to the heart. The pure in heart see God in a new and endearing relation, as their Redeemer; and while they discern the purity and loveliness of His character, they long to reflect His image. They see Him as a Father longing to embrace a repenting son, and their hearts are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
"The pure in heart discern the Creator in the works of His mighty hand, in the things of beauty that comprise the universe. In His written word they read in clearer lines the revelation of His mercy, His goodness, and His grace. . . . We discern the truth by becoming, ourselves, partakers of the divine nature. "The pure in heart live as in the visible presence of God during the time He apportions them in this world."—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 26, 27.
1. What is meant by the term hardness of heart? What is the remedy?
2. What does it mean to be "pure in heart?"
3. What happens to us when God writes His laws on our hearts? Is it possible to keep God's law if it is not written on our hearts?
SUMMARY: When we give our hearts to God, we are making a complete surrender to Him. He expects nothing less.
Beverly Herbrandson Koester
Esmi loved singing in the choir, and her three young children enjoyed Pathfinders. Her husband, Mphanda, tolerated her reliion, but did not join her. But lately Esmi was too tired to enjoy anything. She and her husband had made a home for his sister-inlaw, Toko, and her four children when Toko's husband died. Then Toko's health failed. When she died, the children remained with Esmi and Mphanda. It was not easy, but they managed.
Then Mphanda began to grow thin and weak. Within a few months he too died. Now the burden was on Esmi. She had no time to worry about her own health; she had to keep seven children fed and clothed. Exhaustion set in. She grew weak and thin. She suffered frequent bouts of diarrhea, and could no longer work. Esmi knew she was dying. She committed her children to the Lord's keeping. Her brother, Youseph, promised to raise the children to love the Lord. Grateful, Esmi died in peace.
Today, Youseph and his wife care for 10 children, ages 5 to 13. They confess, "We love every one of them, but it is difficult to raise 10 children from three different families. Seven of these children are suffering the loss of their parents. They are hurting and angry. They do not understand why their parents have been taken from them. We try to show them a loving God, even in this terrible ordeal."
Esmi's story is not uncommon in Malawi, where HIV infects between 35 and 50 percent of the adult population. HIV cuts across social, economic, and religious barriers, hitting middleaged parents and young women the hardest.
The church is working to relieve the suffering of those affected by HIV and AIDS, care for the orphans, and educate the people to live more healthful lifestyles. But the epidemic has had a big head start.
Pray for Malawi and the other East African countries where HIV and AIDS runs rampant. Pray for Christians as they try to develop Christ's attitude toward the afflicted. Pray for the children growing up without their parents. Pray for families such as the Kandyas, who care for those children left behind. And pray for those who live with the knowledge that they are dying, and must leave their children to face an uncertain world.
Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.
Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia
Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributor: Jean Zurcher
Editor: Philip G. Samaan
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti
Editorial Assistant: Soraya Homayouni Parish
Art and Design: Lars Justinen
Pacific Press Coordinator: Glen Robinson
Copyright © 1998 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.
This page is Netscape
SSNET Web Site Home page.
Directory of adult SS quarterly Bible Study guides.
Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET Web Team.
Last updated February 20, 2013.