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The Beatitudes: The Pure

January 29, 2017 Speaker: Afshin Ziafat Series: Sermon on the Mount

Passage: Matthew 5:8

 

TRANSCRIPT

Well, we're gonna jump into Matthew 5, so go ahead and turn there In your Bibles.

But let me say a couple of brief remarks about what's been going on all around us these days. I have spoken at length already about the refugee crisis -- Syrian refugees and all around the world. I spoke a lot about it last year and the year before. So in a sense, when our president passed the new immigration policy, I wasn't even going to mention it. But I feel compelled to, since there's been so much chatter about the new policy on social media and all over the news. It seems like everybody's fixated on this.

So let me just say right off the bat, I don't want to spend the time the Lord has given me behind this pulpit to try to speak for or against a governmental policy. I mean, maybe at times I would, but that's not really my goal today. I think I've spoken to you about what I believe our heart should be towards refugees. Now we'll let the government decide on closing or not closing the borders, and of course the decision was made to close the borders to seven countries for a period of time.

From the beginning of the refugee crisis, I've always shared this. I mentioned to you that I was called to be on a panel on D.C., on Capitol Hill, addressing a Christian perspective on the crisis, and I'll repeat what I said there.

First and foremost, as an American, I do want my government to protect me. Again, I'm so thankful that I don't have to make the kind of decisions that our government has to make. So I'll leave that in their hands. But when refugees DO come to our area, as a Christian, I feel that we are compelled to love them, because we should not, first and foremost, think about safety and comfort and even protection of our lives -- that shouldn't be the driving, motivating factor. Now do I want it? Of course I do. But what I am here for, ultimately, is to be on mission. So I have an obligation to care for the sojourner and the foreigner in my midst. That is definite clear from scripture. Especially the orphan and the widow among them. And I am to see this as an opportunity.

So if a refugee is in my area from a Muslim country, that says to me, Man, what an opportunity. Because listen to me: I was born in this country, but when I was six, we were living in Iran, the revolution hit there, and we sought refuge here. And you've heard me say this: There was a Christian lady, a tutor, who saw me and my family not merely as a threat -- not as a threat at all, but saw us an opportunity, and reached out to me and loved me and gave me a New Testament. And it's because of her that I ultimately came to faith in Christ.

So here's what I want to say. Look, again, we could debate forever about against or for this policy. And I'm not telling you not to speak up about it. If you want to, speak up about it. But here's what I AM saying as your pastor, and here's what I wanna call us to:

More than speaking out for or against this policy on Twitter and Facebook, let us unite and do this, and say, look: More than my talk, I want to ACT. And Actually get to know and love immigrants who are already here. Let THAT be what we are known for. Again, I'm not telling you that you can't have a strong opinion about this. Of course, you probably do. And I'm not telling you not to voice it. But I'm just trying to say, more than our voicing a complaint one way or the other, may we be known as people that say, Look, here's what I believe: Government's done this, and right now there is a Muslim refugee -- there are Muslim people all around me. And my call as a Christian ambassador for Christ is to be the hands and feet of Christ. Let THAT be our primary focus. Are you with me on that? That's what I want to call us to as a people; that's what we're called to be.

I thought it was interesting -- I didn't mention it last week; we'd just come back from the elder retreat. I didn't watch the inauguration until after Sunday's services. But I thought it was interesting that at the inauguration they actually started with the Beatitudes. Did you catch that? I thought, How fitting -- here we are, in the Beatitudes, and here's President Trump being inaugurated, and they're reading the Beatitudes, right there.

And the Beatitude we looked at last week was, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. And we said there that the merciful aren't just those who show kindness and withhold punishment or retribution against those who've wronged them, but also, being merciful means meeting the needs of people who are hurting or suffering. So again I go back to what's going in the land. Let us be more about acting to care for people who are in need, than just screaming out our political opinions. Okay?

So we are to be known for that. And, by the way, that's how we are going to be set apart from the world -- that's what the Beatitudes are. This is what the kingdom life looks like, and this is how you shine, over and against the world. It's through living this kind of life of mercy.

And so today what I want to do is turn our attention to verse 8, which says, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And what I contend is, basically, this Beatitude, again, is a progression of thought of what's already happened. The first three Beatitudes speak of our need: We are poor in spirit -- we are to know that we are spiritually bankrupt before God; that we ought to mourn over our sin, verse 4. That we are to be meek, in other words, knowing that we deserve nothing. We're not trying to push our way forward. We defer to others. Then the crest of that is in verse 6: Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied. That we know our need, and we turn to God. He fills us with His righteousness.

And then the remaining Beatitudes are kind of the overflow, the result of someone who has been filled with the righteousness that comes in Christ. That we are merciful, and here now, that we are pure in heart -- that we seek after this kind of purity.

And so here's what I want to do with this verse. I want to do a couple of things. First of all, in it I want you to see that this verse tells me how God sees us. And secondly, how we see God. So those are the two things I want to hit.

First, how God sees us. And when I say that, I don't mean that God doesn't see elsewhere, or in other ways, but He primarily sees our heart. And so that's why I think this phrase is very key for us: Blessed are the pure in heart. It's meant to draw out for us that God is after an INWARD purity and not just an external purity. That's what God is looking at. It's similar to being, again, poor in spirit, meaning not physical poverty but spiritual bankruptcy, spiritual poverty. In the same way, pure in heart is not an outward purity, but God is after an inward one.

And friends, this is true throughout scripture, that God, His focus is on your inward person, your heart. 1 Samuel 16 verse 7 I think is the clearest one. When David is called to be the king, you remember this. Before David was called, all of Jesse's sons came before Samuel and he's gonna anoint one of them to be the next king. And he sees the first one, Eliab. And he says, Surely this one is God's anointed. So he's looking at his outside. And that's what we are so prone to do, judge a book by its cover. We just look at people's outward appearance. Or their resumé, the stuff on the outside; we don't look at their heart.

And so verse 7 of 1 Samuel 16, the Lord says, "Do not look on his appearance, or on the height of his stature. (Thank you God for that, for all the short people in the house, right?) Because I've rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."

And throughout this scripture, throughout Matthew you're going to see, Jesus stressing, all the Sermon on the Mount is about your heart. Matthew 23, He blasts the scribes and Pharisees. He says, You clean the outside of the cup, and the outside of the plate, but the inside is where you are full of greed and self-indulgence. But you are whitewashed tombs -- you appear beautiful on the outside, but within you're full of dead bones.

And so, God looks at the heart. And now today, WHY is the heart so important? Or first, what IS the heart? What is it? It's not just the physical organ that pumps your blood that biblically the Heart is referring to. It's not just kind of like, That guy has a big heart -- it's not just feelings. What I want you to hear is, the Bible lays out the heart as being really the center of your personality -- who you are, your being. It's what drives you. Drives your pursuit and your ambitions. In Romans for instance, the mind, will and emotions all are described as being your heart. So in Romans chapter 1, verse 21, "For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened." So you see the heart in reference to sin corrupting our thinking, clouding the minds of men.

So how about the will? Romans 2 verse 5: "Because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves." So there, it's man's rebellious, stubborn will against God that's being referenced. And then in Romans 5, God's love has been "poured out into our hearts."

And so there, the heart is seen as the seat of emotion. So really, the heart is the mind, the will, the emotions. It is the center of a man's being, and it is the fount out of which everything else comes. It is, again, what drives us. And that's why Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep you heart with all diligence, for from it flows the issues of life." And this is why Jesus later in Matthew 12 says, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."

So the heart is what is driving you. So now, here's where I wanna go. Stay with me: God looks at the heart. What is the heart and why is it important, we've already talked about it. It's what ultimately drives you. And so now here is the logical conclusion: It is incredibly futile for you and me to fix our focus on the external, and not on the internal.

I want you to see this in Matthew 15. Turn quickly to Matthew 15. Let me set the stage here in Matthew 15; here's what's going on: The Pharisees and the scribes are complaining to Jesus, get this, because the disciples of Christ aren't washing their hands before they eat. This is a tradition of the elders. He goes, why are you allowing your disciples to break the tradition of the elders? And so Jesus turns it on them and says, Why do you use your traditions to break the law of God? And the example He gives them is, The scripture is clear, honor your father and mother. But you've got this tradition that you can make a religious vow called a "corban" that somehow releases you from having to take care of your parents.

And so you're using your tradition to come against God. And so he calls them hypocrites for a couple of reasons: First of all, they're focusing on the external, checking the boxes and not their heart. They're not moving towards love. And secondly, they are putting human tradition over God's word. And so now listen to what Jesus says to them in Matthew 15:10. He calls the people and says, "Hear and understand: It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth -- this defiles a person." And so later, they're going to ask Him to explain the parable to us, and look at verse 17: "Are you still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled, but what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart. And THIS defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. THESE are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."

So what's Jesus saying? It is futile for you to be fixated on an outward purity. The illustration, He says, is food -- it goes into the mouth and the stomach and is expelled. Meaning, it's a temporary fix. In other words, to address the external is only to touch it at a symptomatic level. It's not to go at the root. It's not going to fix you in a long-lasting way, is what He's saying. It's a band-aid type of a fix, to just merely focus on the external.

And so what we see here is, not only is it futile to fixate on the outside -- because it's just going to be temporary, not giving you long-lasting change. But then also you see the grave problem we have. Because in this text you also see that out of the heart is spewing forth murder and adultery and all kinds of wickedness. Jeremiah the prophet in chapter 17, verse 9, says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick. Who can understand it?"

So this heart, man, God is saying, Don't focus on your outside, focus on your heart. When we focus on it, we see that it is wicked through its core. Because as a result of the Fall. That it's deceiving me; it's deceitful. And so the problem is grave for us. It's not a head problem, friends. Look, I'm the first to say in our Christian walk that we ought to focus on theology and right doctrine. We are to be a people who rightly divide the word of God. But listen to me, you can have a Ph.D in theology, and never address your root problem of your heart. So it's not about, Learn more. He didn't say Blessed are the pure in MIND only. It's not just your intellect; it's not just your conduct. We already saw that in Matthew15. Look, the Pharisees, they could check all the boxes, but their heart was completely wicked.

So it's not just fixing your conduct, managing your sin on the outside. It's not just getting more education. It's not, friend, just your circumstances. It's not just your circumstances that are causing you to sin. Some of us blame our circumstances. We say, if was in another position in life, I wouldn't be so depressed; I wouldn't succumb to this sin over and over again. If it wasn't for my parents, or if I got this one relationship that I really want, then maybe things would be different.

And I'm telling you, here's the truth. Listen to me saying this very clearly: Your circumstance aren't the problem; they're the mirror. They're what are showing you that the real problem is your heart. I mentioned Jonah last week. Remember the plant that came over his head to save him from the sun? The scripture there says, "Save him from his discomfort." And that word "discomfort" is a double entendre. It has two meanings -- it can be a discomfort on the inside. So Jonah thought his discomfort, his problem was the outside -- the sun and everything else that was going on around him. And God is saying, no, I'm using all these circumstances to show you that your heart is sick. You aren't broken over your own sin, because you've received mercy and you're upset that others receive it.

So, the circumstances aren't the problem. It's not more head knowledge we need. It's not conduct. It is ultimately heart surgery that we need. And that's what Jesus is about. He's not about addressing the symptoms; He's about addressing the heart. He wants to do surgery on your heart and on my heart. This is where His focus always is. That's why in Matthew 5 he says, You've heard it said, Don't commit adultery, but I say, Don't lust. You've heard it said, Don't commit murder; I say, Don't hate. There's something deeper that is driving your actions, and that's what I am after.

So if you're listening to this and going, Where is our hope? Then you're listening well. Because that's the feeling we ought to have. And we are hopeless; our heart is wicked. And therefore we turn again to the mercy that is provided to us by Christ alone. As the psalmist says, we cry out, "Create in me a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me, God."

And this is what God promised to do. The prophet Ezekiel -- God spoke through the prophet, and he spoke of the covenant to come. And he said that "I will sprinkle water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and your idols I will cleanse from you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I'll take out your heart of stone, give you a heart of flesh, and infuse you with My Spirit, so that you would walk in my ways." (Ezekiel 36:25-27) And this is our only hope. And so we need heart surgery. So God is looking there; that's how God sees us.

Now, how do we see God? And, friend, where I want to end this sermon is, I want us to get incredible motivation to seek purity. We'll get there, because if we really understand what it means to see God, that ought to be motivation enough for me to pursue purity. But before we get there, what does it mean to be "pure in heart"? We've talked about the heart, how it drives us. But what does purity look like in our heart?

Well one verse, I think, really sums it up well. In Psalm 24, just listen to this, real quickly: "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in His holy place?" So, who's the one who can come into the presence of God and see Him? Look what it says: "He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob."

So what does purity look like? In that verse, here's what I get. First of all, purity means that my heart is free of idols. The one who can come into the presence of God, is the one who has a pure heart, listen, who does not lift up his soul to idols -- to what is false. The false gods. So purity of heart means this, guys:

Having a single-minded devotion to one God in your life. You're not distracted; you're not double-minded. By the way, this is what James 4:8 says: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." There it is. So, how do you purify your heart? Not being double-minded! And I'm telling you, what keeps us from seeing God for who He is, ultimately is that we are double-minded. We are running after multiple gods.

I want you to see this in Matthew 6. Turn there quickly and look at this. Matthew 6:20, Jesus says "Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven," and look at verse 21, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Now look at verse 22-24: "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

So here's what I think is being taught there. And we'll get to this later in our series. The eye is the lamp of the body -- it's what you are focused on. And it's sandwiched by, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be" and "You cannot serve two masters." So again, what I think He's saying is, What you are fixated on, what you are following, is ultimately dictating your heart, and who you are on the inside.

And so purity of heart means to lose all idols. Listen to me, friends, some of you are here, maybe you're investigating. At the end of the day, many walk away from Christ because they don't wanna let go of an idol in their life. They don't wanna let go of something that they think, Is God really gonna replace that and fulfill me? The rich man who walked away from Jesus because he had great possessions -- and Jesus says, "I tell you the truth: It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Why? Not because money in itself is bad. But the stuff of this world is distracting us from seeing God.

Some of us are gonna walk away from Him because of our possessions. Some of us, we are Christians, but we don't see God moving in our lives because we are double-minded. But listen, it's not just being free from idols.

Purity of heart means to be free from deceit. It says that the one who has clean hands and a pure heart, the one who does not swear deceitfully. In other words, it's free not just of idols, but free of veils. That I am not covering up who I really am on the inside. I've said this before, that we all live in four worlds: The Private world is us and our thoughts -- only God sees there. The Personal world is our family, those who know us closely. The Professional world are those who work with us every day. They know us better, but not as much as our family. And then the Public world. That's just your reputation. Those who have never met you, but they have heard about you.

And most of us focus on these last two -- our reputation, our public world, or our professional world. But listen to me: Character is not rooted there. It will be revealed there in time, but it's rooted in your private world. The decisions that you and I make when no one else is watching. And God is saying, It's very important for us to remove the veils and not to have this kind of two-faced deception in our walk with Christ.

Remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They sold a piece of their land and they kept back some of the proceeds. They came as if they were giving it all to God, and God struck them down dead, and the church fell silent, and they fell in fear of the Lord. (Acts 5:1-11) Why? God is trying to show us, this is dangerous, to be this kind of two-faced person. And so a purity of heart means I've removed the veils.

A purity of heart means I'm free of idols, veils, and I'm free of self-worship. In other words, 1 Timothy 1:5, that the "aim of our charge is love that issues forth from a pure heart." In other words, purity of heart means I'm not fixated on me and my stuff and my wants and my comforts and my desires. That I'm looking out for the desires of others.

And by the way, uniquely in this way, when you really have this kind of purity of heart that loves others and puts others first -- not only do you see God, but it's the way that OTHERS see God through you. 1 John 4:12, No one has seen God at any time, but when we love, He abides in us and His love is perfected in us. People can see God for the first time that way.

And, man, purity of heart means that we are free from the grip of sin. In other words, as Romans 6:14 says, Sin will not have dominion over your heart, over your life. Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness. And some of us, listen to me, we're not seeing God because we're not yielding to the Spirit; we're yielding to our flesh, constantly. The scripture is clear: You cannot see God move in your life -- Hebrews 12:14 says this: Strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

And so it is of utmost importance for us to look at our heart and say, God, root out any idol, any self-worship, any sin that has gripped me. And so, again, this ought to make us say, I can't do it. Proverbs 29 says, Who can say, 'I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin'? No one, is the implication. So we turn again in faith to God.

So let me get to the last part of our sermon, which is: What is purity of heart, and what's the blessing "you will see God"? So look at me, don't miss it:

When you understand what purity of heart is: Free of idols, free of deception, free of self -- when you see all of that -- free of sin entangling me, then I go, Man, I can't do it. And I turn in faith to the only One who can: Jesus. When you put your faith in Christ, the scripture says, again, He gives you a new heart, He makes you pure positionally in Christ. He infuses you with the Holy Spirit so you can walk in purity and not be enslaved to sin. And then He gives you eyes to see God. It comes through faith. It's like the beggar who was blind, and he heard that Jesus was walking by, and he cried out, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. And I say to you, Son of David was confession of faith: "I believe, Jesus, You are the promised Son of David." And the Bible says, that Jesus heard him, and he turned, and says, "What do you want?" He wanted his sight. Jesus gave him his sight, and then He said, "Your FAITH has made you well. Your faith has given you this sight."

And so I say to us, this is the incredible blessing. When we become pure because of Christ, the blessing is, we get to see God. And this, by the way,is where believing and seeing gets turned on its head. Let me explain.

Remember Thomas -- "Doubting Thomas" we call him? He's the one disciple who didn't see Jesus risen. And he said, "Unless I see Him and can touch His scars, I will not believe." So Jesus allows him to see Him and touch Him, and he believes! And then Jesus says, "Blessed are you, Thomas, because you saw and you believed. But blessed are those who will not see, and yet believe."

And so listen to me: Thomas' way is the way of the world. "Seeing is believing." You've heard that adage, right? I've gotta see in order to believe. But scripture comes and says exactly the opposite. It's not Seeing is believing -- but in fact, BELIEVING is seeing. When you believe in Jesus, your eyes are opened to see God for who He is. And I'm telling you, if you understand the incredible prize, the incredible treasure that seeing God is, you would run after purity.

And so I want to take you, in our remaining time, to 2 Corinthians 3. Turn there really quickly. I think this is a very important verse, and we'll move towards a close with this. I want you to see this, in 2 Corinthians 3.

There's so much here that I don't have time to unpack it all. But Paul is talking about the old covenant and the aw being a ministry of death. And let me explain what that means. It means that the law, by itself, without pointing you to Jesus, the law only brings death. Because it shows me the commandment of God, but it doesn't give me the means to meet the commandments. All right? So then he says there's a new covenant coming, and he calls it the ministry of righteousness. And he says that the glory of this covenant will outshine the other.

And then he does something very interesting, verse 12 of 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

So listen to this. This is amazing. When you put your faith in Christ, when you turn to Him, it says, man, those who were steeped in the religious rituals of Judaism had a veil over their hearts. They couldn't see God for who He is, the God of mercy and grace. Why? Because they were still trying to BE God, essentially. They were still trying to be righteous by keeping the law in their own strength.

And he's saying, but when you understand your need, and you turn to God, that veil is lifted. And now you can really behold the glory of God. You see God for who He is. And let me give you two things, as we come to a close, that I think are so significant about seeing God from this text.

Here they are: Fulfillment, and Purpose. Let me explain what I mean.

When we see God for who He is, we are truly fulfilled. First of all, we see Him as the treasure that He is. When you put your faith in Christ, your eyes are opened to see Him. He gives you His Holy Spirit to guide you and remind you of all that Christ taught. And not only do you see God for who He is, but you start to see yourself in the right way, as the students studied this weekend. You understand your identity as one of God's children now. You not only see God for who He is; you see yourself for who you are, and you see others with compassion. You see them in the right way. And you see all the things of the world that you used to pursue, that you used to fret over.

You see them in the right way. And so I love how C.S. Lewis says it: "I believe in Christianity (he wrote) as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." This is what's so beautiful about your veil being lifted, and you seeing God. Because you see Him for who He is, and you see life in the right way.

And so, listen -- everything changes for you. You see God by faith today. That's what the scripture says, 2 Corinthians 5 -- we see not by sight, but by faith. We see Him in the person of Christ, and we see Christ through His word. And as we do, we see Him as the treasure of life. And so all the stuff that the world wants to throw at us that we fret over, it kind of dissipates away. We don't fret over it, because we know who He is and we know the hope that is stored up for us.

Ephesians 1, Paul prays this way -- he prays that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened, that they may KNOW what is the hope to which they have been called, the riches of their glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of His power that is at work in us.

And so we are able to endure. This is like what Hebrews 11 says about Moses, that he endured the hardship of walking away from Pharaoh. He endured as one who saw the invisible God. And so this is the old hymn:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Not only do you see Him as the true treasure, and you see life for what it is, not only do you get that fulfillment, but you get PURPOSE. It says here, as you see Him, as you walk in the relationship with Him, you behold His glory and you are being transformed into the same image. From one degree of glory to another. Remember Genesis. What's our purpose for being created? Mankind was created to image God, to reflect Him.

And so what this text is telling me is, the veil being lifted -- and don't miss the allusion to the temple, that the veil was torn in two so that we could enter the presence of God -- the veil is lifted so I can see God. And as I see Him and follow Him, I am being transformed. Why is that important? So that I can fulfill my purpose of reflecting Him to the world.

I don't know about you, but I want to get to Heaven. And I don't want to just get there like someone who won the Super Bowl and got a ring, but just because they were on the roster. They didn't do anything; they didn't play a single down. That's not the way I want to get to Heaven -- I got there as one who escapes fire, as the scripture says. I want to get to Heaven knowing that all of my life on earth was driving after what all eternity's gonna be about: The glory of God going out to all the nations.

So I'm saying, this gives me my purpose. All of us want fulfillment and significance in life. And this is what is open to us through faith in Christ. Our eyes are opened to see Him for who He is.

And before I pray, let me say this: This is why we make it our aim to pursue purity. 1 John 3 says that when Christ appears, we shall see Him as He is. And by the way, not only do we see Him with the eyes of faith today, but the scripture says, today we see in part, then we will know Him fully as we are fully known. That's what's coming for us. We're gonna be in His presence, and His glory is gonna be like the sun. We're not gonna need a sun, because His glory will be light enough for all of creation. And we're gonna see Him as He really is.

And 1 John 3 says, that day you will see Him and you will be like Him, and then it says this: Whoever has this hope purifies himself. Again, it doesn't mean I can do it in my own strength. I have to yield to the Spirit. But here's what it means: I don't focus on the external -- fixing up my appearance only. Going to church; checking the boxes. I focus on the inward heart. I turn and I pursue purity. I say, God, look at my heart. Remove idols; remove self; remove sin. Let me walk in the light. Because that is where I'm going. And if that's where I'm going, I want to work every day towards purity so that I can see Him.

Will you bow your head with me and let me pray over us as we close:

Just take a moment right now before we conclude our service. And I just want you to respond to God's Spirit. Here's what I want us to focus in on. Psalm 51, as your eyes are closed, listen to this: Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love. According to Your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.

And so I say to you, would you turn to Him now. You see that a root problem is that our heart is wicked; is bent away from God. It causes us to run after other things; it causes us o be deceptive. Would you turn to Him and say, Jesus, make me clean; make me Yours. Do what only You can do. I need heart surgery. I cannot just fix my outside. I need You.

If you're not a Christian, just call out to Him: Give me a new heart to know You, to fear You, to follow You. If you are a Christian, say, God, bring the private area of my heart in line with Your commands, with Your will. Jesus, we need You. We thank You, God, that You are quick to forgive when we confess, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. So we turn to You now. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

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