“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God,” (Matthew 5:8).
In the year 1895, an American soap manufacturing company in Cincinnati, Ohio boasted of the quality of its flagship product by claiming it was “99 and 44/100 percent pure.” With such a claim, the company’s sales quickly surpassed those of its rivals.
Fallen humanity longs for purity. The psalmist pleaded in supplication to God, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:5–7).
Only Heaven can produce something 100% pure. Consider the scene of the disciples in catching a glimpse of this purity when “Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them” (Mark 9:2, 3).
Yet purity is more than just physical cleanliness. The purity of heart required in order to see the heavenly King in His glory requires a moral innocence that is deeper and more comprehensive than our corrupt human nature can even fathom. “For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God” (Jeremiah 2:22).
The Lord’s appeal and assurance to each one of us is, “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:16–20).
Only Christ can clean the soul that is stained with the horror of sin. John the Revelator was shown in vision those who willingly undergo this process. One of the elders at the throne of God explained to him, “these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).
What does it mean to wash our robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb?
“We must not give our attention to unimportant things; we need to become acquainted with the Scriptures as we have never done before. . . . The sinner has broken God's law, and he must repent and come back to obedience of it. He is to show to the world that there is a moral law which is the great standard of righteousness, and that Satan would break it down, if possible, and have man erect a standard of his own. God's word is sure standing fast forever; and as we look into that mirror, we see the defects of our characters. Will any stand before God's mirror, and because it shows them their defects, say that it is not true? We should not, as soon as our defects are pointed out, go away and forget what manner of persons we are; we must plead the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour by living faith, that pardon may be written opposite our names. We must wash our robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.”—The Review and Herald, December 18, 1888.
“The provisions have been made for us to wash. The fountain has been prepared by infinite expense, and the burden of washing rests upon us who are imperfect before God. The Lord does not propose to remove these spots of defilement without our doing anything on our part. We must wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb. We may lay hold of the merits of the blood of Christ by faith, and through His grace and power we may have strength to overcome our errors, our sins, our imperfections of character, and come off victorious, having washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb.”—Pamphlet 138, p. 44. [Emphasis added.]
“Let us relate ourselves to God in self-denying, self-sacrificing obedience. Faith in Christ always leads to willing, cheerful obedience. He died to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. There is to be perfect conformity in thought, word, and deed, to the will of God. Heaven is for those only who have purified their souls through obedience to the truth. It is a place where unsullied purity alone can dwell.”—The Gospel Herald, March 1, 1905. [Emphasis added.]
How is the purity through obedience mentioned here to affect our relationships with one another?
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22).
“No unlikeness to Christ will be permitted in the holy city. The process of gaining perfection of character is to be carried on in this life, that we may be prepared for the future immortal life. It is God's purpose that His church on earth shall reach perfection. It is essential that His directions be strictly obeyed. The members are to help and strengthen one another. No self-exaltation or accusing or harshness are to be shown in our dealings with one another. We must purify our souls through love and obedience to the truth. We must act like saints toward one another. We must purify our souls through love and obedience to the truth. We must act like saints toward one another, preparing ourselves, drilling ourselves, to be without fault in character, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, p. 171.
What characterizes the minds of those who neglect this process in contrast to those who treasure it?
“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient” (Titus 1:15, 16).
“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off” (Isaiah 33:14–17).
“If we are pure in heart, our words will be pure, our actions will be holy. Unless our hearts are pure and our hands clean, we cannot discern the beauty of God's character, nor hold communion with the Holy One. It is now that our hearts should be pure and holy. We have no promise that we shall be transformed in character when Christ appears. If we would offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness, we should put away everything that is sinful in thought, in word, and in deed. If we cherish iniquity, we cannot offer acceptable petitions; our praise cannot arise to God as sweet incense! O how much we need purity of heart! Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from all iniquity. Let no one think that Christ can be satisfied with one little corner of our hearts, while we allow Satan to erect his throne within, and fill our moral atmosphere with defilement. Christ will abide in the soul only when the whole heart is given up to Him, and then the character will develop after the divine similitude. We cannot hide that which is in the heart. That which occupies the soul will be made manifest. If we are pure in heart, we shall see God; we shall gather more light and power, and become more like Jesus.
“We may multiply forms and ceremonies, and heap resolution upon resolution, and be nothing better for all these things. What we need is purity of heart; and God can give us this as a free gift of his grace. Many blame circumstances for their defective characters. They say, ‘I could do so much better if things were only different; but this one tries me, and that one vexes me, and that is the reason that I am not a better Christian.’ But this is a deception. There is grace with God to enable you to serve Him just where you are, and excuses of this order have no weight with him. Do not charge your circumstances with your failure. The Lord knows where you are, and He would have you practice those things which make for godliness.”—The Youth’s Instructor, January 9, 1896.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3).
Let us cheerfully endure this refining process in preparation for our Master’s return! This purging is underway right now in the hour of investigative judgment. “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:2, 3).
Christ will “baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11, 12).
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24:3–5).
“As God is pure in His sphere, so man is to be pure in his. And he will be pure if Christ is formed within, the hope of glory; for he will imitate Christ's life and reflect His character.
“The princely dignity of the Christian character will shine forth as the sun, and the beams of light from the face of Christ will be reflected upon those who have purified themselves even as He is pure.
“Purity of heart will lead to purity of life.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 10.
“This purity of heart and loveliness of spirit are more precious than gold, both for time and for eternity. Only the pure in heart shall see God.”—Child Guidance, p. 418.