We understand restrictions. There are places we cannot go that are off-limits for a variety of reasons. There are activities we cannot participate in because we don’t fit the criteria. There are opportunities we cannot enjoy because we don’t qualify. Whether we agree with the restrictions or not, we simply understand the privileges don’t extend to us.
Try to get into Minute Maid Park without a ticket. Try to get onto a military base without clearance. Try to stop by and visit with the President without an invitation.
Restrictions are everywhere.
God has even set up restrictions. Oh how blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. How is that a restriction? The obvious other side of the coin. How unblessed are those with impure hearts for they will not see God.
Remember Jesus was in the process of changing gears—phasing out the Old Covenant obligations and introducing the New Covenant relational truths. To an audience who only knew of rules and regulations, sacrifice and ritual—He wanted to show them what was missing. This is why you can’t find God in what you’re doing. You cannot see God with an unclean heart.
Many conditions of uncleanness kept people from approaching the Temple—access to God. Leprosy, touching a dead body, blood, eating wrong food, entering a Gentile’s house.
The people knew about restrictions.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isa 59:2)
Hidden His face – withheld access
Doesn’t hear doesn’t mean He can’t hear; means He chooses not to respond.
Word for hear – Shema – hear with intention to obey or hear with intention to respond
Iniquities are the impurities that dirty our heart before God. They are the desires and actions of satisfying self above God – disregarding God’s way for our way. It’s these impurities that prevent access to God.
A clean room is a surgically sterile environment, free from contaminates, where only those who themselves have been cleansed can enter. Why must the people wanting inside have to be cleansed to enter? To keep them from bringing contaminants into the clean environment. Permit pollutants and you no longer have a clean room.
Holy God cannot allow unholy people into His presence. Neither can He welcome the impure.
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. (Ps 24:3-4)
The restriction is clear: only those with a clean heart are allowed into His presence - able to ascend to the hill of the Lord and stand in His presence.
The essential question: How do we get our heart cleaned? We can’t clean ourselves.
He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, "Remove the filthy garments from him." Again he said to him, "See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes." (Zech 3:4)
Removing the offensive filth, cleansing a dirty heart is a God-activity:
Bible uses many different words to describe the dirt but one cleanser.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; [list of offensive behavior] Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11)
The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 Jn 1:6-7)
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
For every restriction, there is a way to gain access. Jesus is ours.
a. For every fence there is a gate.
b. For every fortress there is a door.
c. For every passage there is a price.
For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, (Eph 2:18-19)
God’s house is a Holy House and God’s people are a Holy People.
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which the Father carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Eph 3:11-12)
So this cleansing act of God makes me a Holy Child of God? Yes. Well, sometimes I don’t feel like a child of God and I still have trouble seeing Him. Check your feet.
Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." (Jn 13:5-10)
Walking through life, I’m going to get my feet dirty. Doesn’t change who I am, only points out my need.
If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; (Ps 66:18)
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. (Ps 51:1-4) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Ps 51:10)
When my feet get dirty, I have not become unholy, but have become impure. Impurity restricts me from seeing God. So God washes our feet.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:9)
Sin, the stubbornness of my life to disregard God’s best, restricts me from seeing Him. How unblessed are those with impure hearts for they will not see God. How do you turn a restriction into a positive promise?
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
Cataracts are a distortion to the lens in your eye. They can cloud your vision or react to the light in ways that can make it impossible for you to see clearly. With cataracts your ability to see is diminished. The fix? Remove the distorted original lens and replace it with a new, clear lens.
When I have let the impurities of life distort my view of God, I need God to correct that distortion. His cleansing allows me to see Him clearly again. Whenever I can’t see God, I need to find out what’s blocking my vision. Could be I’m not one of His. Could be I am but got my feet dirty. Ask God to make you clean, then you will see Him.
- Restrictions keep us out, but for every restriction there is a way to gain access.
- It isn’t God’s intention to keep us out, but to show us how we might get in.
- The privilege of seeing God through the requirement of a clean heart is only possible when we yield ourselves to God’s cleansing through Jesus’ sacrifice.
- Initially, that cleansing declares us God’s holy people, granting us access to Him.
- Subsequent washings maintain our fellowship with Him.