When Moses boldly asked God to “show me Your glory,” the Lord responded, “No man can see my face and live” (Exodus 33:18, 20). Man, tainted by sin, cannot bear to be in the presence of God. Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” How do we purify our hearts?
We cannot purify our own hearts.
In Christian baptism, God sprinkles the heart with the blood of Christ, cleansing the heart from an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22). Christ purifies what is within, thus removing the stain of guilt.
Internal purification does not stop with baptism. God fills His children with the Holy Spirit, equipping them with the means by which we “(crucify) the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24, Romans 8:13). Through His word, God reveals “the thoughts and intents of the heart,” thus enabling us to see our inner workings more precisely (Hebrews 4:12). And if we ask Him to help us know our hearts, He will assist us: “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). If we want to know “what makes us tick,” God will help us, just ask Him. He knows you better than you know yourself.
A pure heart must be an honest heart.
David asks, “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2). Though society counsels us to “follow our hearts,” the heart is not always a reliable guide; in fact, God calls the heart “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). In my own personal struggles with sin as well as those I have witnessed in others, a lying heart is often a contributing factor. We think we stand only to fall. We think a temptation no longer holds sway over us only to follow our desires “as an ox goes to the slaughter” (Proverbs 7:22). Purity of heart cannot happen unless we humbly recognize our limitations.
A fear of God purifies the heart.
There are a few verses in the Bible that keep me awake at night. Romans 2:16 is one: “in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” I know I have had thoughts and desires I hope never see the light of day. I suspect I am not alone. When I think that one day, my inner workings will be laid bare before all, I am afraid. David says, “The fear of the Lord is clean;” it is clean because true, godly fear, motivates us to clean out all of the garbage, both inside and out.