The Heart of the Matter

I would like to start off by saying that nothing is more important in the eyes of God than a pure heart.

What you are, how you think, what you do are all the result of what condition your heart is in. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that your heart is truly at the heart of everything God desires for your life.  Medically speaking we know that the heart is the organ inside our chest cavity that pumps blood to the various parts of our body. Biblically speaking, the heart is the ‘master control center’ of your soul (your inner man) and the seat of your will which controls the way you live your life.  That’s why the Word of God admonishes us to: “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Now, there are two kinds of hearts in the world—pure hearts and polluted hearts, or in other words redeemed hearts and fallen hearts. Since the Bible says that out of the human heart would flow the actions of a person’s life—we can see that great good has come from those who have redeemed hearts, while at the same time great evil has come from those whose hearts are unredeemed and polluted by sin.

A. The Polluted Heart

“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”(Matthew 15:19)

The evil in the hearts of people in our society has led to all kinds of problems: adultery, idolatry, pornography, homosexuality, domestic violence, divorce, corruption at every level of government and every other problem we face as a nation can be traced back to the evil in the heart of man. They tell us the answer lies in better education, if we can better educate people about aids, domestic violence, drug abuse we can solve these problems. Look, you can educate people about their sin, but they just become more educated sinners.

Educating people about these things only deals with the symptoms but leaves the basic underlying problem undealt with—man’s wicked heart—a heart that’s polluted with evil thoughts and desires.   However, psychologists and sociologists tell us that man’s problem is his environment.  If we can somehow give people a better environment to live in it will make them better people who will be less likely to live destructive lives toward themselves and others.  I see some truth to that, I mean living in poor, crime ridden areas will help promote some lawless behavior.

What people fail to understand is that man originally sinned, not in the ghetto but in the Garden—the Garden of Eden, paradise—the perfect environment. So trying to put him in a better environment isn’t going to solve the problem when he blew it in the perfect environment in the first place.  You see the problem isn’t outward, the problem is inward.

The Lord, speaking in the book of Jeremiah said:

“The heart (the fallen depraved heart of man) is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9)

And Jesus said that out of the evil attitudes in the heart proceed all kinds of evil and destructive actions.

The only real cure for man’s problems is to somehow cleanse or purify his heart–which Jesus alluded to when He said, “Cleanse the inside of the cup and it will overflow and cleanse the outside also.”  The only problem is that man is helpless to cleanse his own heart.

Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?'” (Proverbs 20:9)

The answer of course is NO ONE!

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)

We are powerless to change what we are; we are powerless to change our nature. A person can’t do anything to cleanse their own heart. And that’s the problem with religion. Religion at its best only surface cleans a person but leaves the heart untouched. A good example of this was the Pharisees. They had a superficial, outward form of self-righteousness that Jesus condemned.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)

So if we can’t purify our own hearts not even through religious works, ceremonies and rituals and only those who have a pure heart will see God or in other words live with Him forever in heaven—the question is how then can we get a cleansed or purified heart?

B. The Pure Heart

What is a pure heart?

The Greek word for “pure” is katharos. It has 2 basic meanings: clean and unmixed. Our English word “cathartic” comes from this Greek word. A cathartic is an agent used by a doctor for the cleansing of the physical system. We speak of catharsis on the emotional level when a person is cleansed of bitterness, anger and other destructive emotions. But there is also a spiritual catharsis, which is a cleansing of the inner man or the heart.

…purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9)

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1John 1:7)

So “pure in heart” first of all means a heart cleansed of sin through Jesus Christ.  The Greek word for ‘pure’ also involves being unmixed or undiluted. Example: Gold is pure when all the dross has been removed—it is undiluted with dross and is pure. Wheat that has been separated from the chaff is pure wheat—it is unmixed with chaff.  The basic idea here is a heart that is completely devoted to God and not diluted with a love for the world which the Bible calls having a divided heart. When God cleanses a sinner and makes him His child, he is made pure in heart in the sense his sins are washed away and he has now received a new heart with new and godly attitudes.

God also wants that person to be pure in heart from the standpoint that God and God alone is their first love to Whom belongs not only their love but their loyalty and complete devotion.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

A pure heart will produce a changed life—a life of devotion to God. Blessed is the one with a pure heart for they shall see God.  Now I can hear some Christians saying to themselves, “My heart used to be pure for the Lord. It used to guard it against sin and the pollution of the world. My heart used to be undivided for Him—I don’t know what has happened…”

You sound like King David who God called a ‘man after My own heart’. And yet David drifted in his heart toward God and became comfortable and complacent–the result was he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah murdered as he attempted to cover his sin. Eventually God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David concerning his sin.

David wrote down his confession in Psalm 51:

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin…  Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” (Psalm 51:1-2, 10, 12)

God heard David’s confession and forgave him his sin. If God could forgive David and restore him to fellowship don’t you think He will do that for you if you turn from your sin?  It’s not too late to ask God to cleanse your heart and draw you close to Him again.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

May the Lord richly bless you as you walk with Him day by day.

Pastor Phil