Blessed are the Pure in Heart Part One
Homilies of Jesus 4
By Fred Pruitt
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matt 5:8)
Second only to coming to know the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ, the issue of the “heart” has been for me, the source of the most total liberation in my life. First in my inward self where liberation originates.
However, prior to the coming of that inner light of liberty into my understanding and consciousness, I had felt fettered in heart. I was in bondage held together by humanly unbreakable chains, mostly convinced it could not ever get any better. The outworking of this transition, from bound-in-heart, to liberated-in-heart, only began in earnest during my “seeking” days, as I was beginning to realize that all the answers to things that were becoming uppermost to me, would be found in some way “within me.”
That line of thought and questioning eventually brought me face-to-face with Jesus, and I knew I had hit pay-dirt. The next few months were euphoric as day after day the Spirit opened new things in me. New understandings, new sights, new loves.
That new life came to an end when we packed up baby John and everything else into our 1959 VW camper (with the big red JESUS on top) and left Rome GA in mid June, 1973. California or bust. It took a while (most of the time the van would go no faster than 50mph) to get there, but we made it. I had to lay hands on the van in Albuquerque because it was smoking badly. I prayed for it to get us to our destination in Monterey CA, and it did. And then died.
Once we got to Monterey and joined up with the church at the invitation of our friends, our whole new phase began. Loving Jesus while bound in heart. When we left Rome we were loving Jesus all the way across the country but felt no bondage of heart. But after a time we were taught that we had desperately wicked hearts, even though we were “born again” and “baptized in the Holy Spirit.”
I didn’t understand it, but I had more or less “submitted” to the teaching and authority of the pastor and the church, and therefore embraced what they said and taught as truth, since the scriptures seemed to say it. I was a beginner in all that then, knowing absolutely nothing about the different covenants. Like most everybody on the outside thought then, I thought the Old Testament was all about the angry vengeful God and the New Testament was all about the Loving and Forgiving God.
It didn’t really take long to lose that first consciousness of simply loving Jesus and learning in joy something new every day. Don’t get me wrong. It was replaced by a more “corporate” experience of Pentecostal or charismatic worship services, with lots of singing, hand-clapping, fervent dynamic prayer, tongues, interpretation of tongues, spontaneous outbursts of real joy and praise. Then would come fiery, sometimes uplifting, sometimes heavy correction preachings, which brought many forward for repentance and rededication to be more devoted and better Christians. Those meetings tended to be lengthy. We certainly knew were no longer at the staid, dignified, quiet, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rome.
It was like getting a shot of God. You’d go to church, get all worked up, believing, testifying, shouting “Glory to God,” repent a little, praise a little in a little slice of heaven with short guided visits (from the preacher) to hell now and then, and then try to take church home with you.
But we couldn’t keep it up. How could I even know what to pray or how to pray if I have a wicked heart? The most untrustworthy person in the whole world for me at that time was “yours truly.” That was the necessity of being “under authority.” You have a wicked heart, so you need guidance that will keep you on the straight and narrow instead of taking the broad way to destruction. It was a frightful thing, having a wicked heart!
The two main passages proving their point:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9)
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5)
Nevertheless, I tried. We were strongly encouraged to have private devotions and I gave it a worthy effort for seven years.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10).
That was my prayer. How could I come before God with a wicked heart? It’s quite a quandary. God must create a clean heart in me, but how could he acknowledge my prayer since I was, even as a believer, someone with a wicked heart?
(Let me also mention to the reader at this point, that every time I use the term “wicked heart” one could also substitute the term, “sin nature.” Since there are believers who have been taught they have a lifelong “sin nature” to wrestle with daily, it is tantamount to the same thing as believing we have an evil heart even as believers filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s crippling.)
“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut 6:5).
That’s some very earnest loving! I gave this one everything I had, or thought I had. After all, doesn’t it say to do it “with all thy might”? What “might?” What does this mean? There’s hardly a one of us who understands this in our beginning days. Some maybe, but not most. The context with which I read the above passage and many others like it, puts this “effort” in the realm of human power, human determination, human force of will.
Because of the lie that has bound every one of us at some time or another, the lie that we are self-acting, self-determining, self-reliant, self-power islands of lonely independent self, the answer is the same for all of us. We strive to become “religious.” That’s what we think the answer is.
Oh, I have to get my act together. Oh, here’s the things the church says to do and the things it says not to do, so we attack that program with earnestness. It’s all show. It’s all put-on. It’s all “trying to act like Jesus.” We think the effort itself is the goods. God will look at our efforts, whether we succeed or fail, and reward us for giving it a good effort. If God were English he’d say, “Well done, Good show!”
We’d like to think that, but truth be told, we already have a clue our efforts are not working. Why?
“Except LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” (Ps 127:1).
That’s why. When we are acting, it is not the life of God we are portraying. God does not desire actors. When we are acting, pretending to be loving, humble, considerate, holy or righteous, etc., by trying to act certain ways or adjusting our speech to always say the “right” Christian things, we are working on our own house, not God’s. When we give up working on our “own” house (which is only a shadow anyway), then our eyes are opened and we see the Lord’s building that was already there inside us even while we were following this or that bunny trail.
“Oh, I see,” we may say. “Here I was trying to build the building I thought God wanted, and all He wanted me to do was to open my eyes and see the House of the Lord He had already built inside my inner self.”
“This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 118:23,24).
END PART ONE