“Blessed are those whose hearts are pure; they are the ones who will see God” Matt. 5:8
Pure gold is gold that is pure – all the way through. There is not a trace of impurity in it. The pure in heart are those who are devoted to God without reservation of any kind. They are single-minded in their commitment to the Lord. The primary reference is not to sexual impurity, although that is brought up a bit later (Matt. 5:28), but to an undivided heart in its relationship to God.
It’s quite widely agreed that the western world has entered a stage of immorality that began with the widespread demise of absolutes. What custom had kept me from doing, I did, and in doing, custom redefined itself. In the Christian world it wasn’t quite that easy because the shift left us with hearts that want to follow Christ, but are resistant to his call for moral purity. It is this moral schizophrenia that the beatitude addresses. The syntax of the second phrase (with autoi after the connector) stresses that it is the pure in heart (and only them?) that will see God. God calls as followers those who “leave their nets” (Mark 4:20), their “tax-collector booth” (Matt. 9:9), their family connections (Luke 9:59, and “everything they have” (Luke 18:22) He expects from them their undivided loyalty. Half-hearted believers are not the ones who “see God.”
The promise of seeing God is primarily, but not exclusively, eschatological. There never will be a moment more glorious that when when we stand in the presence of God and “see his face” (Rev. 22:4). Purity of heart is the basic requirement for seeing him not only then but now. Like so many other truths of scripture, this one is eschatological in fulfillment, but available in a limited sense now. Present life anticipates life eternal.
Most of us enjoy an electronic personality called Siri. She lives in our mobile phone and can be called upon night or day for the explanation and evaluation of anything. This has a certain parallel in spiritual life. From time to time when we ask, we become existentially aware of what lies ahead for the believer. God allows us to sense the wonder of the eternal state – that which is eternal enters time. We perceive the heavenly banquet although we are sitting quietly with him here below. How blessed we are as we await the ultimate blessing of his eternal presence.