I must have a pure heart. Jesus is clear on that. I can’t see God without a pure heart.
Is my heart pure? That is an essential issue to address. Jesus lays it out in His manifesto (Matthew 5 — 7).
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. | Psalm 51:10
Am I clean, blameless, unstained from guilt? Not on my own but I have been declared innocent because of the work of Jesus and I am being sanctified by His refining fire and His pruning.
Now that is some good news! Jesus gives me clean hands. Jesus gives me a pure heart. Jesus promises I will see God.
Do I, like King David, recognize that no-one could ascend the Lord’s hill or stand in his holy place unless he had ‘clean hands and a pure heart’. King David, conscious that his Master desired ‘truth in the inward being’, could pray, ‘Teach me wisdom in my secret heart,’ and, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God.’
The Bible has a lot to say about my motives. A motive is the underlying reason for any action. Proverbs 16:2 says, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the MASTER.”
Because the human heart is very deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), I can easily fool myself about my own motives. I can pretend that I am choosing certain actions for God or the benefit of others, when in reality I have selfish reasons. God is not fooled by my selfishness and is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
So what is the right motivation? First Thessalonians 2:4 says, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (NLT). God is interested in my motives even more than my actions. First Corinthians 4:5 says that, when Jesus comes again, “he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
God’s glory is to be the highest motive of his people: God wants me to know that He sees what no one else sees. He knows why I do what I do and desires to reward those whose hearts are right toward Him. I can keep my motives pure by continually surrendering every part of my heart to the control of the Holy Spirit and seeking His glory.
- Matthew 5:8 (NASB) — “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
- Psalm 51:6 —Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
- Psalm 51:10 —Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
- Psalm 86:11 —Teach me Your way, O Master; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.
- Matthew 6:1–18 — “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.