1 John 3:2-3
Purifying Ourselves as He Is Pure
Our Lord said in his most famous sermon, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). To be “pure” means to be made of one thing without any foreign element intermixing; for example, what we mean when we say, “pure gold.” So to be pure in heart would mean to have a sincere and unadulterated desire for God and for Him only. The purpose of any other desire is merely to serve one’s desire for Him. It means to release oneself from anything which might hinder that desire, that love, that longing to be with and behold God. And the reward for such purity of heart is exactly what the pure in heart desire most: to “see God,” to behold Him in all His glory and adore Him forever. What more is there?
Perfect purity of heart eludes us here, but John provides us with a wonderful promise. The Apostle reminds us that “we are God’s children now.” It is “now” that is the operative word. We are already God’s children. And in this earthly house we must strive for purity by sloughing off sin and striving for godliness as we strain forward to that upward call (Philippians 3:12-16). But we have even more incentive to lean forward because “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
It is axiomatic in the Scriptures that no one can see God and live, God’s glory being so great (Exodus 33:20). Therefore, for one to see God and live, one must become like God. But what does that mean? We shall never be like God in his essence and divine attributes; but, we can and will be like Him as that concerns purity. In other words, one day we shall be completely sinless, without even the taint of it. And as a result of such purified souls, we shall inhabit glorified and perfectly whole bodies unaffected by sickness and disease. Our minds will be able to fix their attention on God and meditate upon and glorify Him forever in perfect joy and peace, nothing lacking. We shall be pure as he is pure—and we shall behold Him.
And so what effect does such an unimaginable promise have on us? “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” This takes us back to 2:28, for no one who names the name of Christ wants to be ashamed upon his return. We want to be found not only in him but living for him, putting to death that which is in us that is not of him and cultivating the fruits of the Spirit as we walk with him. This is how we purify ourselves as the Spirit works within us as we apply ourselves to Scripture, prayer, and cultivating virtue. Blessed are the pure in heart. Indeed.