Mid-week Devotion for March 17, 2021


Dear Friends and Family

Jesus was steeped in the Hebrew scriptures. When He said in Matthew 5:10, O the blessedness of the pure in heart, for they shall see God, He drew from the rich Scriptures. In Ezekiel 11, God promises to gather the people of Israel back to their land from the nations where they are scattered. Then He promises in verses 19-20: And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God.

One heart is the opposite of a divided heart. David prays in Psalm 86:11-12: Teach me Your way, Yahweh, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided heart to fear Your name. I will praise You with all my heart, Lord my God, and will honor Your name forever. A person with a divided heart has one foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot in the world.

After prophet Nathan confronted King David of his sin with Bathsheba, he prayed: Psalm 51:10: God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. The Hebrew word for “clean” is thahor. Girdlestone, in Old Testament Synonyms, notes that in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, thahor is translated as katharos, “pure,” the word found in the beatitude.

As we trace the verb katharidzo, “to cleanse” or “to purify,” we find that all the Old Testament sacrifices and cleansing rituals are fulfilled in Christ. We read in Hebrews 1:3: After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 9:11-14 gives more detail: But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse (kathariei) our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?

1 John 1:7 tells us: …the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. Consequently, John encourages us in verse 9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:26: Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He also writes in Titus 2:14: He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works. In light of these truths, Paul exhorts us in 2 Corinthians 7:1: Therefore, dear friends, since we have such promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, completing our sanctification in the fear of God.

These passages teach us that the offering of Christ is effective not only for pardon from sins but also for cleansing for all who feel their moral pollution. Augustus Toplady’s famous hymn begins: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee; Let the water and the blood, From thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure.”

Nor are these benefits afforded to the Jews only. When Peter shared the Gospel with the Gentile household of Cornelius, they were saved, filled with the Spirit, and spoke in tongues—much to the astonishment of Peter and his Jewish companions. In Acts 11:3, Peter was criticized by some saying, “You visited uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Peter simply told the story of their conversion and verse 18 records that When they heard this they became silent. Then they glorified God, saying, “So God has granted repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles!” Later, in Acts 15:8-9, Peter notes: And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing (katharisas) their hearts by faith.

The godly life, the ministry, and the sacrificial death of Messiah fulfill the meaning of all the ceremonial cleansing of the Old Testament rituals so that, the moment we trust in Christ, God sees us as pure, holy, dressed in the immaculate white robe of His righteousness. We are regarded as clean in the sight of God through the mediation of our great High Priest. But then, as we walk with the LORD and learn of Him, there is the actual moral change—the clean heart, the renewed spirit, the godly life. There is even a change in our social position; Paul tells the Gentiles in Ephesians 2:19: So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household….

The promise is that the pure in heart will see God. What can that possibly mean? Those whose hearts are changed by the grace, power, and indwelling Holy Spirit of God will see everything in a whole different way. Every bird, every tree, every flower, every rainbow reminds us of the love and care of our gracious Heavenly Father. We will see Him in the love of every friend and family member. We may even see Him in our enemies.

Love and Shalom,

Chaplain John Hollis, Arbutus Park Manor