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Weekly Bible Study
“Matthew 5:8 Happy are the Holy”
by Art Sadlier   
December 12th, 2016

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."

Background - Israel was burdened by an oppressive, authoritative group known as the Pharisees. They were the dominant influence and force in Israel at that time. The Pharisees were one of three major political parties; the others were the Sadducees and the Essenes. There were approximately 6,000 Pharisees in the time of Christ. They were a relatively small group and needed the support of the people. That is why they feared Christ’s ability to influence the people.

The Pharisees had a problem: they couldn’t keep the moral aspects of the law. The fact is that no one can keep the law. That is why God gave it. “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God....” (Galatians 3:11a). “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24).

The Pharisees thought that God expected them to perfectly keep the law. They thought that salvation was by keeping the law. They did not understand that the law was given to show us how sinful we are in order to convict us of sin and bring us to God for salvation through repentance and faith.

Instead of the Pharisees recognizing their sin and coming to God in repentance and faith. They decided to change the law to make it possible to keep it. They changed the law from moral things to physical things. They invented new laws and called them traditions. By keeping these traditions they pacified their conscience.

For example; instead of repentance for sin, they developed a series of washings that took the place of repentance and faith. “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” (Matthew 15:1-2). They externalized that which God intended to be a matter of the heart. If you can’t wash your soul from sin, substitute ceremonial hand washing.

For example in Israel today, on the Sabbath day if you go to a hotel and get into an elevator, the elevator will stop at every floor. The elevator is programmed that way. The reason is because the orthodox Jews will not lift a finger on the Sabbath day to press the elevator button. They consider that to be work. That is the type of regressive legalism that oppressed Israel in Christ’s day. The people of Israel were oppressed with a legal system they could not keep. It produced in them tremendous guilt and anxiety.

In that situation when Christ came and gave them eight principles (beatitudes) for happiness they were all ears.


1 – The goal of every Jew: happiness.

2 – The key to happiness: purity.

3 – The place where happiness begins: the heart.

4 – The way happiness is enjoyed: seeing God or enjoying His presence.

The Goal of Every Jew was Happiness

You started on a great quest the moment you were born. You have been searching, searching for something that is missing in your life. You are searching for happiness. All of mankind is traveling with you. All of humanity is on the same quest.

Maybe we can find it in a new car or a boat or perhaps in a new home. Pleasure, education, success, power or popularity may seem to hold the answer. Each one of those things can give a temporary sense of satisfaction or enjoyment or an emotional boost but they cannot give us what our hearts are really searching for.

The Jewish people gathered around Jesus that day were on the same quest. They may not have fully comprehended their hearts and desires but they were on a quest for happiness.

The happiness Jesus was talking about was the ultimate happiness, a lasting happiness, the happiness that God Himself enjoys, the happiness that God designed for man to enjoy.

The Key to Happiness is Purity

What is impurity?

A – The impurity of the air. The atmosphere we breathe, the air around the earth is only six miles high. The winds that ventilate the earth are only six miles high. We are pouring into that thin strip of space some 300 million tons of pollution annually.

B – Impurity in the water. It is estimated that 5-10 million tons of petroleum pollutants are released into our lakes, rivers and streams annually. Many cities and towns in Canada do not even have sewage treatment plants.

C – Pollution of the land. Each year in North America we litter the land with 48 billion cans, 26 billion bottles and 20 million tons of paper. Add to that dangerous chemicals like dioxin and arsenic as well as radioactive wastes.

All of that is impurity. But it is not the impurity Jesus was talking about. The impurity that Jesus was talking about is in the spiritual realm, it is called sin.

 Sin is nothing more and nothing less than disobeying God’s known will. That, is how it started in Eden. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12).

We need to understand that sin is not going contrary to man’s standards or going contrary to man’s laws. Sin is disobedience to God. That is the impurity Jesus is talking about. Jesus is teaching the key to happiness is purity. The key to happiness is obeying God.

The Place where happiness is found is in the heart

The heart beats approximately 75 times a minute, 40 million times a year, 2.5 billion times in a lifetime. It pumps 3000 gallons of blood a day, 650,000 gallons a year. It produces enough energy in 12 hours to lift a 65 ton tank car off the ground. It produces enough energy in a lifetime to lift the largest battleship right out of the water.

But that is not the heart that Jesus is talking about. He is not talking about that which is at the center of a man’s body. He is talking about that which is at the center of a man’s total being. He is talking about the soul. Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he....” I know there is much we do not understand about the soul. We do know that out of the soul flows the thinking  process, the emotions and the decision making process, the will.

When our Lord is talking about a pure heart, he is thinking first of all about the mind. The mind of the soul controls the emotions and the will. God wants a changed mind and a changed will.

God wants us to change our mind about two things.

First: about sin. We need to face it for what it is. Christ is not demanding an improvement in our lives. He is demanding perfection. Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore, perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven, is perfect.”

Second: about how to obtain perfection. He wants us to change our minds about obtaining purity or righteousness by our own efforts or good works. He wants us to change to trusting God by faith to provide His righteousness to us. God is saying just trust me, just believe me.

After Pentecost God indicated, I have provided for your sin. I have provided purity of heart for you. And that provision is in Jesus Christ, believe Him and trust Him and accept Him.

The way to enjoy happiness

The happiness that the human heart craves is found in and only in a personal relationship with Christ and in personal fellowship with God as revealed in Christ.

Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

John 14:20, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”

Only a personal relationship with Christ can satisfy the human heart. That is the purpose for which man was created and designed. True happiness is found by seeing God with the eyes of your soul and by enjoying an intimate, personal relationship with Him in the Person of Christ. That’s the starting point of real happiness.

Joy is a fruit that will not grow in nature's barren soil; all we can boast till Christ we know, is vanity and toil. But where the Lord has planted grace, and made His glory known, those fruits of heavenly joy and peace are found and there alone.

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