INTRODUCTION: Certain words just naturally go together.
example, "pure" and "water" seem exactly right together. Do
"happy" and "pure" seem right together to you? The Beatitude which
is our study today starts out "Blessed [happy] are the pure in
heart...." Let's find out more about what it means to be "pure in
heart" and what that has to do with our attitude.
I. WHAT IS THE HEART?
A. Read Matthew 5:8. What percentage
of your body represents
your heart? Let's work it out!
1. How much would you guess your heart weighs?
2. How much do you weigh? (No need to shout it out.)
a. You do the math. Let's say the heart weighs 5
pounds and you weigh 200 pounds? (2.5%)
B. Would you buy water that was 2.5% pure and 97.5% impure?
1. So why does
God seem to be satisfied when only 2.5% of
your body is pure? (God is not talking about what pumps
your blood, He is talking about your mind. See Matthew
a. Do you think "heart" in Matthew 5:8 refers only
to our mind?
(1) If not, what else do you think Jesus had in
mind? (In Jeremiah 17:10 it says, "I the Lord
search the heart and examine the mind, to
reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve." The
heart is here referred to separately from the
mind. To further confuse us, the Hebrew word
translated "mind" in Jeremiah means "kidneys!"
Brown-Driver-Briggs tells us that the word
translated "mind," but really naming the
kidneys, is a reference to the "seat of
emotion and affection." When we talk of a
pure heart, I think the Bible means both our
thinking process and our emotions.)
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CONDITION OF THE HEART
A. Turn ahead a few chapters in Matthew to
chapter 15. Read
Matthew 15:1-6. We have Jesus and the Pharisees trading
1. What are the
charges levelled against Jesus? (His
disciples violated the historical teachings of the
2. Are these
charges really levelled against Jesus?
(Indirectly. They directly criticize His disciples. But
they suggest that He is improperly teaching them.)
3. So the charge
is that the disciples do not wash their
hands before they eat. Didn't your mother tell you the
same thing when you were a kid?
a. Let's read between the lines. What kind of men
were Jesus' disciples? What are we taught by these
charges? (They may have been unrefined, but they
must have been pretty good if this is the worst
charge the Pharisees can level against them!)
B. What is Jesus' charge against the Pharisees?
(He says that
they are breaking God's commands (not just tradition) by
excusing children from supporting their elderly parents.)
1. You have heard
children on the play ground yell out,
"You're fat!" Then the rotund kid yells back, "You're
ugly!" Then somebody else talks about how their "mother
dresses them funny." Is that what is going on here?
Illogical name-calling? The Pharisees say "You are a law
violator" and Jesus retorts, "You're one too!" Is that
how you see this? (No. Look at the dialogue closely.
Jesus is not just yelling back. The Pharisees' charge is
that Jesus is allowing (or teaching) His disciples to
violate tradition. Jesus says that tradition is not
something to be concerned about because their tradition
is used to violate God's law. He is not calling them
names. He is attacking the premise of their argument.)
a. Wait a minute. Before we say Jesus' argument is
perfectly logical, tell me, would washing hands
before eating violate the law of God? Now what do
you think about Jesus' argument?
(1) I think we need to dig deeper!
C. Let's read on. Read Matthew 15:7-11.
Did you notice the
reference to "hearts?" How would you explain the difference
between honoring God with your "lips" and honoring Him with
you "heart?" (It is the difference between just talking and
D. Jesus further explains what He means by
saying what goes in
your mouth does not make you ceremonially unclean, what comes
out of your mouth makes you unclean.
1. How do you
apply this statement of Jesus to the
prohibition on eating unclean animals explained in
2. Does this
mean we are free to eat pigs now? Can we
gobble those oinkers without becoming unclean?
a. If you say, "No, no oinker gobbling," explain
E. In the next few verses the disciples tell
Jesus that He is
insulting the Pharisees to which He says, "So?" The serious
problem is that Jesus' disciples are not sure about what He
means, and I'll bet you are uncertain too. So let's read vv.
1. Is Jesus referring
to pigs? (Not specifically. He
keeps it very narrow and refers only to hand-washing.)
2. Is Jesus telling us something about purity of heart?
a. Notice the list of "evils" in v.19. Did you ever
take a test where they asked you to identify the
item that did not belong in the list? For example,
if I gave you the list, "Ball, bat, glove,
refrigerator, spikes," which one does not logically
belong in the list (unless the person giving the
answer is a couch potato)? (Right! Except for couch
potatoes, who watch TV baseball, refrigerator does
b. Tell me, which evil does not belong in the list
in v.19? ("Evil thoughts." All the rest are
actions and commandment violations -- just like the
violation of the commandment to honor your parents
that Jesus used at the beginning of this
(1) So why are "evil thoughts" in Jesus' list?
(2) How does murder come "out of the heart?"
c. How do (v.18) "things that come out of the mouth
come from the heart?"
F. I just asked you why "evil thoughts were
on Jesus' list,
whether murder "comes out of the heart," and how it is that
things coming out of the mouth come from the heart. Are these
questions related? Is there some "overall answer" to all
three? (Yes! A person does not accidentally commit the sins
listed in v.19. Instead, these sins are preceded by a great
deal of thinking about them (or lesser evils that lead to
these sins). You can get a pretty good understanding of a
person by listening to him or her talk. (v.18) So sin becomes
a matter of evil thinking, which leads to evil speaking, which
leads to evil actions.)
G. Is the reverse true? That evil actions lead
speaking, which leads to evil thinking? (No. That is what
Jesus is talking about when He says (vv.17 and 20) that what
goes in a man does not make him unclean. He is saying that
sin does not come from actions. Actions do not make the heart
sinful. Sin comes from the heart! The heart makes for evil
actions! If you believed it was sinful to eat pork, and were
rebelling against God, it would clearly violate Jesus' rule
because your actions would come from a rebellious heart. (See,
H. Do you see the flow of the argument in these
Matthew? Can you see that Jesus is not trading insults with
the Pharisees, and He is not talking about eating oinkers. He
is teaching that evil comes from the mind. That is why He is
teaching his disciples about "heart issues" while the "blind
guides" (v.14) are worried about externals like hand washing.
III. HOW DO WE HAVE PURE HEARTS?
A. Since we have learned that evil is not caused
doing, but rather by evil thinking (attitude), how should we
raise our children? Should we concentrate on what they do?
(No. You would want to concentrate on what they THINK. You
would want to concentrate on their attitude.)
1. How would you do that?
2. Turn with
me back to Matthew 5. Read v.28. What
sequence for sin does Jesus suggest here? What starts the
problem? (Adultery begins with the lustful look.)
3. Is this true
for all sins? (Yes. We just learned this.
Sin begins in the mind.)
4. Does Matthew
5:28 suggest an answer to how we should
concentrate our fight against sin in the lives of our
children? (Yes. This suggests that we need to concentrate
our effort on what our children see and hear. Consider
the truth of E.G. White's statement in the book
Patriarchs and Prophets p. 460 ("[G]uard well the avenues
of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing
that which will suggest impure thoughts.") Proverbs 23:7
"For as he thinks within himself, so he is."(NAS); 1
Peter 1:13-14 "Therefore, prepare your minds for action;
be self-controlled ... do not conform to the evil desires
you had when you lived in ignorance.")
B. I started out with your children to
get you to agree to
the principle. Let me ask the "killer" question. Does this
same principle apply to you?
1. If so, is
there anything that it is "OK" for you to
watch, but not "OK" for your children to watch?
2. If you do
not take some "affirmative action" to limit
the "avenues of your soul," will you be naturally
inclined towards the right goal? (No. In Jeremiah 17:9
the Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure." Genesis 6:5, referring to people before
the flood, says, "that every inclination of the thoughts
of the heart was only evil all the time.")
IV. THE STAKES
A. Let's go back to where we started. Matthew
5:8. What is at
stake in the battle for our minds? (Seeing God.)
1. What do you think it means to "see God?" (Heaven.)
2. Could anything
be more important than what you see and
hear if "seeing God" is at stake?
3. How about what your children see and hear?
B. We said that "seeing God" refers to going
to heaven. Do you
think that having a pure heart could in any way allow us to
"see God" now? (Yes. A pure heart helps us to understand God's
will right now.)
C. Friend, how is your heart? If you
know your heart is not
right, can you make it right by "guarding the avenues of your
soul?" (No. "Guarding the avenues" is your cooperative effort.
It is your obligation in choosing to serve God. David has it
right in Psalms 51:10 when He identifies God as the one who
creates "a pure heart" within us. See also Ezekiel 36:26. God
is the purifier, but He cannot purify if we choose to have
evil flood our hearts. Let us pray as David did for God to
create a pure heart and a renewed Spirit within us!)
V. NEXT WEEK: "THE PEACEMAKERS." Study Matthew 5:9!