Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matthew 5:8 ESV]
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” [Mark 9:24 ESV]
God’s grace toward sinners is the driving force for any who become pure in heart.
Only one person has ever lived who could claim a pure life. He is the One who offers grace to everyone, even those who refuse His offer. His life is an example though His purpose in coming was for sacrifice. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” [1 Peter 2:21 ESV]. His purity and righteousness cannot be duplicated by anyone.
As we begin to understand His life, His motives and demands, and the grace which drives us toward Him, we will cringe at our twisted and corrupted nature. No one can look at Him without seeing themselves. Our purpose it not to be Him but to be made by God into His likeness. Each hidden in Him are made by God into an eternally unique person.
From God’s eternal perspective He has finished His work in us. This does not mean He has stopped working in us or He has let us go to live by our own devices, winding us up to let us run down until He winds us up again. He does not hope we use the tools given or that we will grown into maturity. It means nothing will thwart our being finished and complete. What He has done is done for eternity and cannot be undone.
Yet, we are constrained by time, by each moment in history. If we comprehend the completed work of Christ then we know the absolute of God’s decree. Still, our moment by moment is plagued by sin, requiring deliberate consciousness of God, a continual growing in Christ, and an abandonment of self to the Spirit. Anything less and we risk temporary defeat and loving discipline. God will make us pure.
Testing may be seen as a purifying fire. Those unwilling to submit to the testing fires of faith, rejecting His grace, will suffer the eternal “fires” of separation from God.
If I am correct in my thinking then there are two basic activities, or responsibilities, we have, and two purposes He is accomplishing in us. These are fueled by His grace and nothing else. He requires (for want of a better word) both obedience and sacrifice. Our purposes are living the evidence of His grace before the world through obedience and sacrifice, and preparation for eternity. His Son fulfilled these activities to His satisfaction. Does He expect anything less from any who are His?
Grace continues where personal strength and effort fail. At the instant my strength fails, before I even began to try, God’s grace and its inherent power, succeeds. For God’s grace is His power to overwhelm and destroy the power of sin.
In Mark 9 (and Matthew 17) Jesus once again confronts the power and consequence of sin. Coming down a mountain after His transfiguration He encounters a man whose son is demon possessed. Though His disciples were given explicit authority to drive out demons (see Matthew 10:8 and Mark 3:14-15) they could not drive out this one.
Commenting on the bent, twisted and powerless condition of all, on their complete lack of faith, their unbelieving, untrusting, disobedient posture, Jesus laments, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me”[ Mark 9:19 ESV]. I do not know if He is speaking about His disciples are the people in general. They have all seen His work, experienced His faithfulness, seen the evidence of His life and love for them, and still they have no faith. Jesus does not say “little” faith as He does elsewhere. They are “faithless.”
Finally, the father, driven to his knees, hopelessly unable to do anything, exclaims, “I believe; help my unbelief!” [Mark 9:24 ESV]. His cry did not release Jesus’ power as if faith activates God. Jesus decided to heal the boy and strengthened the faith of the father. Just as He decided to come and sacrifice Himself for us giving us grace.
Those who are pure in heart live faith as a whole person before God.