Qualities of Genuine Happiness, Pt. 8
Study Guide, December 6, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
So, have you ever had what are called ‘eye floaters’? They are like small spots that drift through your field of vision. Yeah, they are really weird, right? They can be like dots or squiggly lines or cobwebs or even rings that move around in your eye. The really strange thing is that they dart away when you try to focus on them. They are small flecks of a protein called collagen. And they often occur as people age, usually between 50 and 75. And most people just learn to live with them, however they can be really buggy, and can sort of cast shadows over your vision, interfering with your clarity of sight.
Okay, and so, why are we talking about ‘floaters’? Well, we have come to our next Beatitude, and it has something really amazing to say about our vision, particularly in how we see God. Let’s explore: Matt 5:8- “Blessed (Happy) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” NASU How about that? Or we should say, ‘What about that?”, as in, what is Jesus talking about here? Is He talking about seeing God when we get to Heaven? And what does Jesus mean by ‘pure in heart’? Is He talking about our position as a saved person, like when we are called ‘saints in Christ’, even though we know we still stumble in sin in our practice of the Christian life? Or is He talking about seeing God here and now, in our daily practice, or in our day to day lives as followers of Christ?
And the answer is? Well, let’s let the words of a familiar chorus answer that. And you’ll recognize it right away…you can even hum it in your head if you want to while I read the words. “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see You. I want to see You. To see You high and lifted up, shining in the light of Your glory. Pour out Your power and love, as we sing, holy, holy, holy.” So what is this chorus talking about? It’s an appeal to better see…and to better know…and to better understand…and to better commune and fellowship… and to better experience the power and the love and the very Person of God! Amen?
And that brings up a really fascinating concept, which is this: You see, in Heaven we will see God with our eyes, but on earth, we see God with our heart…as in, ‘Open the eyes of my heart, Lord’. In this life, we use our heart to see God. But how do we do that? How can our heart be used to see God? Or, what are the conditions in which our heart can see God? And the answer is?… “Blessed (Happy) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The condition required for the heart to see God, or to better know, understand, commune and fellowship, and experience the power and love of the very Person of God is the condition of ‘purity’. And Biblical ‘purity’ is just another word for Biblical ‘holiness’. And Biblical holiness is just another way of describing a heart that is devoted to and set apart and set upon pleasing Jesus first, especially in the matters of moral character.
Throughout the Scriptures we often find God speaking to His people about this conflict between their eyes and their heart, or this disconnect between their head and their heart. For example look at Jer 5:21-24- “Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. Have you no respect for Me? Why don’t you tremble in My presence?…My people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned Me. They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God…” NLT By the way, what a great way to describe our commitment to try to live a life of holiness for God… ‘…to live in awe of the Lord your God!’ You see, the better we see and understand God, the more in awe of our God we will be, and even that will motivate us to live out a more holy, a more pure life for the sake of our awesome God!
And another ‘by the way’ is that the passage reveals that not only do we ‘see’ from the heart, why…we even speak from the heart. Do you remember what Jesus said about that? Luke 6:45- “Good people have good things saved in their hearts. That’s why they say good things. But those who are evil have hearts full of evil, and that’s why they say things that are evil. What people say with their mouths comes from what fills their hearts.” ERV That sure clears up a lot of things, right? Did you know your heart is like a safety box? Yes, your heart acts like a safety box, and whatever you save, or hold onto, good things or bad, good thoughts or bad, good intentions or bad, good will or bad towards things in life and towards others around you…they all get saved and stored in this safety box of your heart. And then when your attention is drawn toward any of those matters, what comes out of your mouth is what you have been saving in your heart…or ‘out of the mouth the heart speaks’.
That’s why the Proverbs call for us to ‘guard our hearts. Look at this…Prov 4:23- “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” NLT And then another version shows us the direct connection between our thoughts and our heart. Prov 4:23- “Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” ERV That’s why we have to be careful of what we dwell upon, because whatever we dwell upon is getting packed into and hearts and stored there, again, like in a safety box. And then when we are faced with whatever issue it is that we have dwelt upon, our thoughts are like keys that open the safety box of our heart, and then out of the heart the mouth then speaks! So guard your heart…guard your mind…guard your eyes…be very careful of what you are allowing to get packed into the safety box of your heart.
The heart of the issue is that the heart is always the issue! Back to what Jesus said… ‘it is the pure in heart that are able to really see and know God!’ The condition of our heart is what determines the clarity of our sight. We can only see God, can only know, understand, commune and fellowship, and experience the power and love of God to the degree that we are committed to purity in our heart. And again, purity in our heart refers to holiness in our life.
Have you noticed that there are some Biblical concepts that you just don’t hear much about anymore? Like, ‘repentance’…even those who are religious in our culture are not really into ‘repentance’ much anymore. Oh, they can handle a little ‘penance’ now and again, but not ‘repentance’…because ‘repentance’ means forsaking or turning away from whatever it is that they have been doing ‘penance’ for. Penance is like ‘painting over’ something again and again that needs to be replaced altogether, or repented of altogether.
And ‘purity’ is another Biblical concept that has fallen out of favor, even in those who claim to be religious in our culture. In a recent Barna study, which I will note in the study guides, it pointed out that morality in our society is generally defined according to people’s feelings. In a postmodern society, where people do not acknowledge any moral absolutes, if a person feels justified in engaging in a specific behavior then they do not make a connection with the immoral nature of that action. For example, about two thirds of Americans believe that living together as though they are married even though they are not married is morally acceptable. About one half of Americans believe abortion is morally acceptable. About one third approve of pornography, one third approve of any sexual behavior outside of marriage between a man and a woman, and more than a third believe that the use of profanity is morally acceptable behavior. Barna went on to state: “Until people recognize that there are moral absolutes and attempt to live in harmony with them, we are likely to see a continued decay of our moral foundations. The generational data patterns make a compelling case for this on-going slide. Even most people associated with the Christian faith do not seem to have embraced biblical moral standards. Things are likely to get worse before they get better – and they are not likely to get better unless strong and appealing moral leadership emerges to challenge and redirect people’s thoughts and behavior.”1
We are seeing a serious moral decline and decay happening all around us. And the only solution is ‘repentance’…a realization that for the unsaved, unless they repent, they will perish, as Jesus said in Luke 13:3. And for the compromising Christian, unless they repent, they will receive chastening on Earth, and will suffer loss in the Kingdom. Again, there is no win in sin, only loss. There is no gain in impurity, no gain in immorality, only loss.
On the other hand, there is great gain in purity, great gain in godliness, great gain in holiness. Not only are there great eternal reward privileges in the coming Kingdom, but Jesus said there are present joys and genuine happiness for those who seek to live holy lives for the sake of their God. Why, we will even see God more clearly, and fellowship with God more deeply, and experience the power and the presence of God more closely. Do you remember what did the Psalmist say about that? Ps 16:11- “You will teach me the right way to live. Just being with You will bring complete happiness. Being at Your right side will make me happy forever.” ERV Brothers and Sisters, there is no greater happiness than knowing Jesus deeper and higher and better and better. But in order to get closer to our holy God, Jesus said we need to commit to a holy life, because it is the ‘pure in heart’ that are the ones who get to experience the joys and the happiness that come from walking with Jesus, seeking to please Jesus, and thus better seeing Jesus.
That means that like with Job, especially the men here, we will have to make a covenant with our eyes. As Job said: Job 31:1-4- “I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look with lust at a young woman. For what has God above chosen for us?
What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? Isn’t it calamity for the wicked
and misfortune for those who do evil? Doesn’t He see everything I do
and every step I take?” NLT And for all of us even like the Psalmist said: Ps 101:2-6- “I will be careful to live a blameless life—…I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar…I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions…” NLT
And we will need to act on Heb 12:1-4- “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” NLT
We can’t do much about the development of ‘floaters’ in our eyes, but we can do a lot about the development of ‘floaters’ in our heart…or stripping off every weight that slows us down, especially the sins that trip us up. We are to be men of God, people of God, whose joy is found in being more and more like God.
Jesus offers a joy of spirit and a happiness of heart, not just in Heaven, but even now on Earth. But He offers it only to those who are serious about offering to Him a surrendered spirit and a holy heart. And to those who will guard their heart, guard their eyes, guard their thoughts, guard their words, so that what they dwell upon and then actually do are things that honor God and bless others, well then, in essence, Jesus then says to you, ‘I will bless you…I will bring happiness to your heart because of your efforts to offer Me a pure heart and a holy life. I will even let you see Me more clearly throughout your journey through this life.’
Blessed (Happy) are the pure in heart, those with holy intentions and godly efforts and moral convictions, for they will better know, better understand, better experience, and better ‘see God’! And that’s what makes you genuinely happy!