Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Matt 5:8
For myself growing up, this statement was an impossibility, almost a paradox. I neither saw God, nor had any sense of purity. I wanted to be pure; but my desires lead me into the wrong bars and the wrong bedrooms. Although I would brag about it to my mates, behind the scenes I would come back cursing myself and prayed for close to 5 years for purity. When things got bad and I felt I had lost the Holy Spirit: I used to feel revived by listening to Allegri’s Miserere Mei Deus. I discovered later that this was a choral rendition of Psalm 51, David’s prayer after sleeping with Bathsheba: “Oh Lord have Mercy on my soul”. After years of praying alone and in deserted Cathedrals: my answer, my deliverance did not come from prayer alone; but from the place where my spirit groaned not to look at:
Pss 119:9 “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word”
Ethesians 5:25-28 “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish”
If the word is so important when it comes to purity, then I want you to ask yourselves, how do you see God, how do you see the word of God when you do your devotionals, when you are reading the word of God:
* Do you see a means to a deeper understanding, comprehending infinitely deeper and deeper concepts, always unfolding, always getting closer to this point of complete understanding. When you look back though, do you see it making some sort of meaningful change in you?
* Do you see a means to help you with your calling, a means to bring your vision, your culture, creating atmosphere that everyone will want to be around. But that only comes out when you’ve had your morning coffee?
* Do you see the means to be a great leader with thousands of followers, winning over enough peoples hearts and minds for you to be justified and go to Heaven:
Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 5:39 “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very scriptures that testify about me”
The Apostle John saw God and the word of God very differently. Whilst exiled on the small island of Patnos, John received a vision from God and described the Word of God this way:
Rev 19:11-16 “Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that’s known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as “Word of God.” The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords.”
This heavenly rider, this king of kings is more than John’s personal hero, this Lord of Lords is a Saviour.
When you see the bible, do you see a saviour? When you read the word and you are being corrected, warned and told your way of life is wrong, do you see a Saviour or do you feel belittled and scorned? When you change your ways in response to what you have read, do you begrudgingly think, oh alright then? Or do you see heaven’s victory, a victory being won over sin in your very own life.
When we feel condemned, belittled and told not to do what we want to do, how then can it be true that:
Pss 94:12 “Joyful are those you discipline, LORD, those you teach with your instructions.”
We can take joy from being corrected because our saviour has won a battle and his kingdom has advanced. You are allowed to feel happy, to join in with God’s victory while being corrected and changing your ways:
Luke 15:7 “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
When you exercise the piece of control that you have in your life, to accept and to apply the word of God to your life: you may feel like you are just reading an instruction manual. You may feel that you are being told to do this, do that and that nothing you do is right. What if you could change this view? What if when you saw the word of God, you saw a heavenly rider making war in pure righteousness. Instead of struggling with your shame and belittlement you saw Heaven’s victory starting in your own life?
How then can we have this perspective like John on the word of God? What’s so special about John? John:
1. Openly and unashamedly confessed that he was the disciple that Jesus loved, he openly admitted and believed that Jesus loved him.
2. John saw no differentiation between Word, Jesus and God
3. John declared God is Love
In fact John can barely keep the Word of God, Christ and Love separate as if they are almost interchangeable yet distinct in the same breath. To John this Bible, this word of God is not an instruction manual, this is love, this is a heavenly rider making war in pure righteousness, winning that war with weapons like love and honour, obedience, correction, warning, prayer, praise, discipline and devotion.
For all the difficulty we have in distinguishing the difference between God, the Word of God, Jesus and Love: John prescribes for us a clear path to help us view Jesus as our Saviour:
1 John 4:15-16 “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. “
This breaks down into 4 key points:
1. Confess Jesus is the Son of God
2. Come to know the love God has for us
3. Come to believe the love God has for us
4. Abide / Stay in Love
It is easy for bitterness, disappointment, envy, grief to steer us away from abiding in his Love; but that love is the only permanent home that we will ever have.
If we are to know God’s love then we must read diligently, understanding every page of the scriptures. If we are to believe God is love then we must come to our own understanding of this, observing not just how he loves us by providing for us; clothing us, feeding us, healing us and forgiving us but how he loves us with
every word that is breathed through scripture.
If we are to see God as Love then we must read the word as if God is love, we must take the word and look at it from the angle of how does this show us God loves us?
By starting our question with the presupposition that God is Love, when we ask how is this love we admit our lack of knowledge and show faith in God’s word. We show faith that God is who he say he is and then we can begin to get to know and understand God.
If look at the Word of God through this lens of faith and belief in God being love then we can go further.
When we consider ‘How is this Love’ we begin to see God: because God is Love.
As we take on and accept this Love of God and confess Jesus is our Saviour and has paid the price for our sins: then we must also consider the importance and weight we have given to sin in our life. When we hid sin from God it occupied a position of massive importance, it was so big compared to the love of God. As we accept that God is victorious over sin in our lives, we must also reconsider the magnitude of God’s love. We must re-sensitise ourselves to the wonder of God. With this same question we can explore the magnitude of God’s love:
- How is this the love of a God that spent 1500 years inspiring people to write this book for you?
- How is this the love of God that lavished mercy on Abrahams son; but watched his own get crucified for you?
- How is this the great love that the gospel promised us?
Have you ever reflected for a moment: when somebody brings you a cup of tea or a small gift, how do you feel? How would you feel if the person next to you was to get on a crucifix and die to rid you of your guilt, your shame, your condemnation that you were hiding from him under your facade of upright living
You can ask these questions of every page because it is written ‘No word from God will ever fail’ Luke 1:37
This is why the pure in heart are blessed: because when they see God they don’t see a means to an end, when they see God they see Love.
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