>Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8
Solomon asked, “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9). If the answer is “no one,” then who can see God? Yet, Jesus blessed the “pure in heart,” so someone must qualify.
We all know that only one perfectly sinless person ever walked this earth: Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22). He was the only one who ever kept the entire Law and fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17-18). Solely on the merits of past performance, Jesus is the only one who is technically qualified to see God.
Job asked, “Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!” (Job 14:4) And, in Job’s understanding, that was the correct answer. But, for us, the answer is Jesus. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The only chance that we have to be pure in heart, and thus to see God, is through Jesus Himself. He freely offers forgiveness to everyone who asks (1 John 1:8-9). But, there is one more thing: what do you do with the guilt?
How many of us carry around the burden of guilt from sins that already have been forgiven by God? Pretty much all of us do that. Our pride has a difficult time with God’s grace. And, we have an enemy whose full-time job is to accuse us and to bring us down (Revelation 12:10). No wonder we feel like damaged goods most of the time. But, this is not where God wants us to live.
Our guilt drives us toward things that displease God. How do we escape the pain? How can we numb the guilt? What do we do?
In recovery, we are taught: “I openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.” Step Four in Celebrate Recovery is to take a Moral Inventory and list everything that we feel guilty about. This is an exercise to do alone. Just start with the question: “What do I feel guilty about?” and let it flow.
Once the inventory is complete, then we must take responsibility for our actions, and ask for forgiveness. Then, the next part is a little more challenging: confess your faults to another person (James 5:16). As Rick Warren says, “Revealing the feeling is the beginning of healing.” Boy, that’s a tougher one.
Why can’t we just confess to God? Why can’t that be enough? Well, it goes back to the idea that we’re only as sick as our secrets. When we tell another person, we are released from the power of the secret. We have owned up. It’s exposed to the light of truth.
The last part of this is to forgive ourselves. Years ago, a college student came to see me in my office. We talked about a number of things, and the problem of forgiving ourselves came up. She said that this was something that she had struggled with, but one day, she felt God speaking to her. He asked, “If you were thinking these things about another person, would that be okay? (The answer was “No.”) If it’s not okay to judge another person like this, then why do you think it’s okay to view yourself this way?” Good question, huh?
The path to a pure heart involves sweeping out the dark corners of guilt. As guilt is removed, sins are confessed and forgiven, the purity it brings changes our relationship with God, others and ourselves.
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