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Sermon on the Mount
“A Matter of the Heart”
Americans are increasingly concerned with purity. We want pure water to drink, pure air to breathe, and pure food to eat. But as important as clean air, pure water, and pure food are, there’s a purity that we overlook, the purity of our hearts.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8 NKJV)
This sort of purity, however, isn’t something we can consume; rather it’s an inside out issue. What we’re talking about is the condition of the heart.
What does it mean to be pure in heart? It means our motives are unmixed. A person who has a clean heart is a person of integrity. It’s where we do what we say. God isn’t concerned with what we do as much as He is with why we do them. In other words, God is concerned with our motives.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NKJV)
“Is it possible to do good things with wrong motives?” Most definitely!
What Jesus is saying is that blessings and happiness comes from when we’re the same on the inside as we are on the outside. Jesus thought that this was so important, in fact, that He spent the rest of Matthew six talking about it.
Tonight I’d like to look at three aspects of having a pure heart.
In Matthew chapter six there’s a phrase that’s repeated three times.
“And your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18 NKJV)
Nothing is hidden from God. Nothing is secret. He knows everything. And that’s a little unnerving, because we all have secrets we want to keep that way, even from God. But God knows everything.
Most people think that nobody will ever find out their secrets, but guess what, God knows and He sees everything. And He has a way of bringing those things we hold in the dark into the light.
The Bible says,
“There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13 NKJV)
This is something King David knew well. He knew that there was nothing and nowhere that he could hide himself from the presences of God.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.” (Psalm 139:7-12 NKJV)
If God therefore knows everything, then we might as well have a pure heart rather than trying to continually fake it. We may fool others, but we cannot fool God. And the amazing thing is that even though He knows all my faults and failures He still loves me.
God knows everything we’ve ever done, and everything we’re presently doing, and everything we’re thinking of doing in the future. And still He loves us. How much? He sent His Son to pay the penalty price for our sins so we can be clean and pure before Him.
And so we need to remember that God sees everything.
We all need to do an honest evaluation of our motives before God. How? The answer lies with King David’s prayer.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV)
Why pray this, because God knows the motives of our heart and rewards us accordingly, therefore our desire is to have our hearts in sync with God’s heart.
“For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.” (Proverbs 24:12 NLT)
God’s judgments and rewards are based not only on what we do, but why we do it. In Matthew chapter six Jesus gives us three examples. Before we look at these, however, I’d like to go back and look at that repeating verse. It says that God will reward openly.
A lot of people focus on the idea of God rewarding us openly, but I’d like to focus instead on the word “reward.”
The word, “reward,” is a commercial term for a sales transaction. Jesus is saying that when we do these things with the wrong motive, we’re in essence buying our own reward. Like giving alms. They weren’t doing it to meet the people’s needs as they were paying themselves with the praise of others.
The three examples Jesus gives in Matthew chapter six are…
“When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” (Matthew 6:2 NLT)
When we give we shouldn’t do so in a way where other people see. In other words, “Don’t blow your own horn.”
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.” (Matthew 6:5 NLT)
Jesus instead tells us to do so in a secret place, that is, make our prayers directed to the Lord God and to Him alone. When we do it God’s way He’ll reward is things like with peace, forgiveness, grace, and mercy.
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.” (Matthew 6:16 NLT)
They would wear sackcloth and ashes in order to let everyone know they were fasting. Jesus, however, says our fasting is to be done before God alone, so Jesus basically tells us to take a shower, shave, and do your hair.
To be pure in heart isn’t being hypocritical; rather it’s to check our heart and see if we desire the praise of men more than the praise of God.
The Apostle Paul said,
“We speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV)
It’s all about who we want to please that determines the true condition of our hearts.
The third thing we need to do to have a pure heart is to…
The first of the Ten Commandments is
“You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3 NKJV)
God is saying, “I want the number one position in your life. I don’t want to play second fiddle to anyone or anything else.”
A god is anything or anybody we give first place to in our lives. It may be a career, possession or even a person, like a spouse or child.
How will we know when we do? Here’s a three-part test.
Where to we invest our time, talents and money?
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV)
What’s first in your life? If you say, “The Lord,” good. Now, let’s put it to the test. Let’s look at our bank statements and daily planner. Let’s look at our giving and where we’re spending our time.
Regardless of what we say is first, it’s how we spend our time and money that determines what’s really first.
What are we worrying about? You can tell a lot about someone by what they worry about.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25 NKJV)
What I found interesting in going through Matthew chapter six is how Jesus gives us five top worries of humanity, or as you’ll see, the top five “F’s”: Finances (vs. 24), Food (vs. 25), Fitness (vs. 27), Fashion (vs. 28), and the Future (vs. 34).
If we’re worrying about any of these, then it means that God isn’t number one in our lives.
Our goals reveal our heart. Whatever our number one goal is, that’s our God.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33 NKJV)
Notice it says, “After all these things the Gentiles seek.” That’s ambition, it’s seeking or desiring something, and Jesus says don’t be looking or ambitious for what the world is looking and ambitious for.
Instead God says to be ambitious for Him, for His kingdom and righteousness, and then all the rest will be provided.
What’s The Reward?
That’s the meaning of the word, “blessed.” But it’s not happiness as the world defines it; rather it’s a joy in the Lord God that goes beyond our circumstances and situations.
The reward of a pure heart is we see God move in our lives. And when this life is over we’ll see God in heaven. Now, that’s a deal.
But just as we don’t see too well through dirty glasses or through a dirty window, we don’t see God too well with a dirty heart. So we have to clean it up.
But we can’t clean our hearts on our own. Only Jesus can clean our hearts from the dirt of sin, and He did so through the blood He shed upon the cross.
If we want a clean heart and find true happiness, then we need to go to the only true heart specialist, and that’s Jesus. And you know what’s great about Jesus; He makes house calls, doesn’t charge a dime, and hasn’t lost a patient yet.
All we need to do is ask, like King David.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV)
David prayed this after his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah, to cover it up. What that means is that no one is too far gone for God to do a cleansing work upon their heart and in their spirits.
How’s your heart?
And so it’s all a matter of the heart, so let God give you a new heart, a pure heart so that we can see God.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study