Mind in Renewal

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Pure through the Refining Fire

Posted by Daniel Edwards on March 18, 2009

In Matthew 5:8, Jesus says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” I have mulled over this verse in my mind a good bit lately, and I have finally come to realize (as with many portions of Scripture) that this verse has more to it than I first thought.

The obvious meaning of the verse is that those who are pure (cleansed, without blemish) will see God when they die because they will go to Heaven. In that sense, it simply means that those who are saved are washed by Christ’s blood and therefore made pure in heart. And in Greek, the heart was the center of being. Therefore, we see that those who are saved will see God because He will purify them with His blood. While I believe that this is definitely true, I believe there’s more to this than first appears.

It is most certainly and unequivocally true that when we are saved, Christ’s blood and righteousness cover us, (1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 9:22) we are seen as pure in God’s eyes and we do not need to add anything to Christ’s work in order to get to Heaven. We are secure and pure. This is what is called redemption and it is completed in the moment we believe in faith on the Lord Jesus.

But there is another work that is done through the Holy Spirit and Christ’s sacrifice within our lives that is not completed at the beginning of our salvation. In fact, it’s not even completed in this lifetime. That work is called sanctification.

Sanctification is a continuous work of the Holy Spirit in which we are set apart and made to be like Christ. And we will never be completely like Christ until we reach Heaven (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). As long as we are on this earth, we are still sinning. So, in that sense, we are not pure. Even our hearts are not pure yet, because our hearts desire things that are not of God (Romans 7:15-23)

This leads me to think about the word pure. In a sense we are pure, but in another we’re not. Our lives are still full of sin, but we are able to enter the gates of Heaven, because when God looks at us He sees the purity of Christ. We have attained saving righteousness (purity) because Christ has given it to us, but we have not attained purity of actions or heart. Not yet.

So when Jesus says that the pure in heart shall see God, He is not just referring to the purification that comes through salvation. In that sense, all Christians are pure in heart. But this purity of the heart is one that comes not instantly like salvation, but slowly in the process of sanctification. Katharos, the Greek word for pure in this verse, first means “purified by fire“(Greek Lexicon, emphasis mine).

So, how does this definition apply to this verse? You see, for us to be sanctified, to be purified, we must go through fire. But what kind of fire? I think that it could be said that when we, as Christians pass through difficult times in our lives with perseverance (whether it’s a death or sickness or divorce or losing a job or whatever difficulty it may be), it is for our purification. These are the means by which God seeks to sanctify us and perfect us. No one has a great spurt of growth in their faith or is revealed the deep secrets of God in the easy times of life. And if people do grow in the good times, it is because they have learned to trust God in the difficult times beforehand.

So purity of heart is a result of going through the fires of hard times. I hope that this encourages us as we go through the tough times. Never think that God lets anything happen that is not for our good (Romans 8:28). Everything, whether good or bad, will ultimately be used for our good and purification. May we be purified through the fire by God’s good will.

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