#6 (THE "BEATTITUDES" SERIES)
"THE IVORY SOAP BEATITUDE"
TEXT: Matt. 5:8; 6:6,19-24; 23:25-26
INTRO: We are a culture obsessed with purity. Products for sale often boast of "having nothing added" or "100% pure" etc.
a. The goal of the computer industry is to try and make a "pure" chip. They have even used outer space to grow purer crystals.
b. Fruit drinks are advertised as having 100% pure fruit drink, no added sugar or other additives.
c. Wrigley's spearmint gum is supposed to be "100% pure chewing satisfaction."
d. Environmentalists want to restore the pure air in our environment and keep the water and land pure too.
e. Drug manufacturers want to produce pure products.
f. Certain ideologies have attempted to produce a pure system of government; communism was supposed to be this.
g. Hitler tried to produce a race of pure human beings.
h. Bottled water boasts its level of purity at the stores.
AND then there is Ivory soap ... it is tragically only 99 44/100% pure. Don't you just wonder what the other 56/100% is? At least they were honest to say that their best human effort fell short of complete purity.
TRANS. SENTENCE: "Pure" means something that is not contaminated, that is not polluted in any way. So what does Jesus mean when He said, "Blessed are the PURE in heart."?
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we can only be "Blessed" or "happy" when our love and devotion to God is pure or unpolluted by the things of this world. The "pure in heart shall see God," meaning we will have clear vision.
I. PURITY POLLUTED! 23:25-26
A. Troubling Righteousness 23:25
1. The Pharisees were great at "purity" issues. They really had the system figured out for being "pure" in God's eyes.
a. Notice one verse earlier where Jesus said, "You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." Gnats were often found around fermenting grapes used to make wine. Gnats were considered the smallest unclean animal by the law. So, they would often strain out the gnats in order to keep the wine from being impure by law. They did not want to consume any unclean thing lest it make them unclean.
b. Here Jesus refers to their passion to ensure a clean looking cup. They went through elaborate ceremonies to guarantee the cup's exterior cleansing. But, what about what was inside?
c. Jesus likens them to a good looking, pure looking cup that is still dirty on the inside.
2. An exterior purity cannot guarantee what was on the inside. It is too easy to "look" pure and yet not be pure.
ILLUS: A MAN WAS DRIVING TO A MASQUERADE BALL DURING A TERRIBLE STORM ONE NIGHT WHEN THE HEAVY RAINS COMBINED WITH THE LIGHTENING AND THE THUNDER CAUSED HIM TO LOSE CONTROL AND GO OFF THE ROAD INTO A DITCH. HE COULDN'T GET THE CAR STARTED, AND SO, THOUGH WEARING A DEVIL'S COSTUME HE NOTICED A SMALL COUNTRY CHURCH NEAR BY WITH ITS LIGHTS ON. INSIDE THERE WAS A PRAYER MEETING GOING ON. HE RELUCTANTLY MADE HIS WAY TO THE CHURCH TO SEE IF HE COULD GET HELP, STILL DRESSED AS THE DEVIL. JUST AS HE OPENED THE DOOR TO ENTER, A HUGE THUNDER CLAP AND LIGHTENING HIT. THE STARTLED WORSHIPERS TURNED TO THE OPEN DOOR AND SAW THE "DEVIL" STANDING IN THE DOORWAY. FRIGHTENED BY THIS SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF THE DEVIL SOME RAN FOR THE WINDOWS TO CLIMB OUT, SOME TO THE BACK DOOR. THEY ALL FLED SO FAST THE MAN DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO EXPLAIN HIS SITUATION. ALL WERE GONE IN SECONDS EXCEPT ONE OLDER LADY WITH A CANE THAT WAS STANDING IN THE CENTER ISLE QUIVERING WITH FEAR. SHE SAID, "MR. DEVIL, I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT HERE, BUT I'VE GOT ONLY ONE THING TO SAY. I'VE BEEN A MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH FOR 40 YEARS, BUT I'VE REALLY BEEN ON YOUR SIDE ALL THE TIME." SO MUCH FOR APPEARANCES AND PURITY OF COMMITMENT!-- Source Unknown
B. Treatment Requested! 23:26
1. Jesus now explains the needed treatment for their lack of purity, "clean the inside of the cup."
a. It is too easy to simply appear to be clean.
b. Purity begins in the heart, the very essence of Jesus' beatitude.
2. There are those who go to great lengths to show how spiritual they are, but behind that appearance there is a lack of substance.
ILLUS: IN ANY GREAT FOREST YOU WILL FIND MANY HUGE TREES. THEY TOWER ABOVE ALL THE OTHER TREES AND APPEAR TO BE THE PRIZE OF THE FOREST. YET, WHEN LOGGERS GO IN THEY OFTEN LEAVE THESE HUGE TREES. WHY? LOGGERS KNOW WHAT WE DON'T KNOW, THAT THE LARGEST OF TREES THAT APPEAR TO BE THE TOWERS OF STRENGTH AND SOLID WOOD ARE ANYTHING BUT THAT, THEY ARE OFTEN HOLLOW. THESE ARE THE HUGE TREES PICTURED IN CARTOONS THAT HAVE RACCOONS LIVING IN THEM, OR OTHER ANIMALS THAT NEST IN THE LARGE HOLES OR CAVITIES. THOUGH THEY APPEAR ON THE OUTSIDE TO BE STRONG AND SOLID, THEY ARE SOME OF THE FIRST TO FALL IN A STORM BECAUSE OF THEIR HOLLOW INTERIORS. THEY OFTEN HAVE FEWER BOARD FEET OF LUMBER IN THEM THAN SMALLER TREES THAT ARE SOLID, HENCE THE REASON THEY ARE LEFT BY LOGGERS THOUGH TO US THEY WOULD APPEAR TO HAVE 2 TO 3 TIMES AS MUCH WOOD IN THEM. THIS WAS JESUS' POINT ABOUT THESE PHARISEES. THE OUTSIDE LOOKED GOOD, BUT INSIDE THEY WERE HOLLOW AND FULL OF ROT. HOW MANY CHRISTIANS ARE LIKE THIS? ARE YOU? A FEW GOOD STORMS WILL USUALLY TELL, NOT THE PRAISE AND WORSHIP DURING GOOD TIMES. -- Source Unknown
3. The Pharisees had separated what they DID from what they WERE. Jesus' call to them was to combine these two things into one thing.
a. He doesn't condemn them for their desire to have purity.
b. But He does call them to be sure to start on the inside first.
II. PURITY POSSIBLE! 6:6,19-24
A. Treasure Room 6:6, 19-21
1. Verse 19 and verse 6 have something in common that is not apparent in the English translation, but is of great significance in the original Greek:
a. Verse 6: Notice Jesus' call to enter into your "closet" for prayer. The Greek word translated here "closet" is "tameion"... the exact same word used in verse 19 where it is translated "treasure."
b. The "tameion" was the "treasure room." Often it was a secret room within a home where the owner's greatest treasures were stored. In this sense Jesus used it as the place of prayer in verse 6 ... the "closet" was the "treasure room."
c. Jesus was thus asking that when we pray we go into our treasure room to pray, why? "Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also."
d. Even today in modern Greece this word is still used. Today in Greece the "tameion" is the cashier in a store or office.
2. It is certain that we all have a "treasure room" somewhere. The question is "what" kinds of treasures are we piling up?
a. God wants to be in our "secret place." He wants to be where our treasures are kept.
b. It is here that He asks us to get alone with Him.
3. We must guard our hearts against the wrong kinds of desires.
ILLUS: LIKE THE LITTLE BOY WHO WAS AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY. THE TIME CAME TO SERVE THE CAKE AND LITTLE BRIAN BLURTED OUT, "I WANT THE BIGGEST PIECE." AT THIS HIS MOTHER QUICKLY SCOLDED HIM AND WISHING TO TEACH HIM SOMETHING IMPORTANT SAID, "BRIAN, IT'S NOT POLITE TO ASK FOR THE BIGGEST PIECE OF CAKE." BRIAN LOOKED BACK AT HER IN CONFUSION AND THEN SAID, "WELL THEN, HOW DO YOU GET IT?" HE OBVIOUSLY MISSED THE POINT. HAVE WE DONE THIS WITH GOD'S MATERIAL BLESSINGS VS. THE ETERNAL OR SPIRITUAL ONES? -- Source Unknown
4. Jesus here warns against an undo fascination with material things. To "pollute" our priorities in life by an undo focus on earthly treasures, they often will destroy the purity of our heart and its devotion to God.
ILLUS: AN OLD RICH MAN OF MISERABLE DISPOSITION ONE DAY VISITED AN OLD WISE RABBI TO HOPEFULLY SEEK AN ANSWER TO HIS EMPTY LIFE. AS HE SHARED HIS EMPTY BUT WEALTHY LIFE, THE OLD RABBI TOOK HIM OVER TO A WINDOW THAT OVERLOOKED A PARK AND ASKED HIM THIS QUESTION; "WHAT DO YOU SEE?" THE RICH MAN LOOKED THROUGH THE WINDOW AND EXPLAINED THE SIGHT HE SAW, FAMILIES IN THE PARK, CHILDREN RUNNING AROUND PLAYING HAPPILY. NOW THE RABBI TOOK HIM OVER TO A MIRROR AND ASKED THE MAN TO LOOK INTO IT AND TELL HIM WHAT HE SAW. HE SAID, "I SEE ONLY MYSELF." TO THIS THE RABBI EXPLAINED, "BOTH THE WINDOW AND THE MIRROR ARE THE SAME THING, BOTH ARE GLASS, BUT THE MIRROR HAS HAD A COAT OF SILVER ADDED, AND NO SOONER IS THE SILVER ADDED THAN YOU CEASE TO SEE OTHERS, BUT YOU SEE ONLY YOURSELF." EARTHLY TREASURES WHEN THEY BECOME OUR FOCUS DO THIS IN OUR LIVES. -- Source Unknown
5. Jesus here asks us to be careful to lay up treasures in heaven, not just on earth.
a. Some people do better planning their financial security on earth than they put into their eternal dwelling.
b. The stuff of this world will decay to rust and get eaten by moths, but that which we store up in heaven will never be robbed or ruined.
c. Ultimately, the treasures we send to heaven into our accounts will have a greater impact on our future than what we do with earthly treasures.
ILLUS: A VERY WEALTHY WOMAN REACHED HEAVEN AND WAS ESCORTED BY AN ANGEL TO HER "MANSION." WHEN THEY ARRIVED SHE FOUND A VERY PLAIN SIMPLE DWELLING THAT WAS FAR FROM THE KIND SHE HAD LIVED IN ON EARTH. ACROSS THE STREET FROM HER PLAIN HOME WAS A WONDERFUL MANSION OF GREAT PROPORTIONS. SHE PROTESTED AND SUGGESTED TO THE ANGEL THAT HE HAD FOUND HER THE WRONG HOUSE. SURELY THE ONE ACROSS THE STREET WAS HERS! HE ANSWERED HER THAT NO MISTAKE HAD TAKEN PLACE. THE MANSION ACROSS THE STREET WAS FOR THE GARDENER THAT HAD WORKED FOR HER ON EARTH. SHE WAS SHOCKED AND ASKED HOW THIS COULD BE. THE ANGEL EXPLAINED, "THE HOUSES HERE ARE PREPARED FROM THE MATERIALS THAT ARE SENT UP DURING YOUR LIFE ON EARTH. WE DO NOT CHOOSE THEM. YOU BY YOUR FAITHFULNESS DO THAT WHILE ON EARTH. THIS IS ALL WE HAD TO WORK WITH ON YOUR HOME WHILE YOUR GARDNER, THOUGH WITH LITTLE MATERIAL THINGS HAD A TREASURE OF SPIRITUAL THINGS TO SEND UP." WHILE BUT A STORY IT IS THE SAME POINT JESUS IS MAKING HERE. -- Source Unknown
6. Jesus is attempting to make the point that we should be careful what we consider to be treasure.
a. What is the focus of your life?
b. Who or what are the role models in your life?
ILLUS: NEAR THE END OF HIS LIFE, IT WAS NOTICED THAT ALBERT EINSTEIN HAD REMOVED TWO PROMINENT PORTRAITS THAT HE HAD HUNG UP ON HIS WALL IN A PROMINENT PLACE. THE PICTURES OF TWO VERY SUCCESSFUL SCIENTISTS, NEWTON AND MAXWELL, HAD BEEN TAKEN DOWN, IN THEIR PLACE NOW HUNG THE PICTURES OF GANDHI AND SCHWEITZER. WHEN ASKED WHY HE HAD DONE THIS HE ANSWERED, "IT WAS TIME TO REPLACE THE IMAGE OF SUCCESS WITH THE IMAGE OF SERVICE." WHY WAIT UNTIL LATE IN OUR LIVES TO DISCOVER THIS?-- Source Unknown
7. Jesus understood clearly that wherever we consider the treasures of our lives to be that is where our hearts can be found. (Again, this puts an interesting twist on verse 6 where Jesus in teaching about prayer told his disciples, "that when you pray, enter into your 'treasure room.'" (KJV has "closet" but it is the same word translated "treasure" in verse 19.)
B. Tragic Reality! 6:22-23
1. To the ancients the eyes were considered the light to the soul and the body.
a. A light was considered to have healing properties, thus those who had bad eyes that wouldn't "let light in" were considered in danger of ill health, open for disease.
b. No wonder they held "blindness" in such contempt.
2. Jesus picks up on this thinking in His day to explain how this principle is true in a spiritual sense.
a. If one's spiritual eyesight is polluted or obscured they would be sick.
b. "Purity" of vision is the meaning here. Only those who can see clearly can expect wholeness to both body and soul.
c. Even the "treasure" stuff had to do with "purity," not being a servant to two masters, a point Jesus will make at the end of this section.
3. Verse 23's point is this: If the eye is bad already, AND the person lives in darkness too, how really dark that darkness is! Bad enough to have poor or polluted vision, but then to exist in darkness with it makes the darkness really dark.
4. Tragically, there are many people like this. Their vision is not too pure.
5. The Lord takes no pleasure in those whose "purity" of service is polluted with ungodly desires for self.
ILLUS: A RICH AND POWERFUL MAN ONCE INVITED HONORED GUESTS FOR A FEAST. HIS OWN CHAIR, RICHLY DECORATED, WAS PLACED AT ONE END OF THE LONG TABLE. WHILE OUT OF THE ROOM THE GUESTS WERE TOLD TO SEAT THEMSELVES WHERE THEY WISHED SO EACH FOUGHT FOR THE CHAIRS CLOSEST TO THE MASTER'S. THOSE WHO FELT THAT THEY DESERVED THIS KIND OF ESTEEM GOT THE CLOSEST CHAIRS. WHEN THEY WERE ALL SEATED, THE MASTER WALKED IN, APPROACHED THE CHAIR, TOOK IT FROM THE END IT HAD BEEN PLACED AND PROCEEDED TO MOVE IT TO THE OTHER END OF THE TABLE. THE HUMBLE WERE HONORED, THE PROUD IGNORED! -- Source Unknown
C. Total Response! 6:24
1. Now Jesus makes His point: "No one can serve two masters..."
a. You cannot remain "PURE" to both, only one.
b. A servant by nature is under the control of only one master.
c. The question then is simple: Who or what is your master?
ILLUS: A FEW YEARS AGO IN LOS ANGELES A MAN WAS WALKING DOWN THE STREET WITH A SIGN ON HIS SHOULDERS THAT READ ON THE FRONT, "I'M A SLAVE FOR CHRIST" AND ON THE BACK IT READ, "WHOSE SLAVE ARE YOU?" THAT IS THE QUESTION. -- Source Unknown
2. What are the passions of your life?
a. Where do you put your time?
b. What are your goals?
c. What do you make sacrifices for?
3. "Who or What do you serve?"
4. While most of us would like to say we could quickly answer that, what do our actions and attitudes show to be true, not what do we believe to be true?"
5. Probably the most honest of us would have to examine the "purity" of our hearts before we answer that!
ILLUS: YEARS AGO JACK BENNY DID A SKIT TO ILLUSTRATE HOW MONEY CAN BE MORE IMPORTANT TO US THAN ANYTHING ELSE, EVEN FOR GOOD PEOPLE. IN THIS SKIT HE WOULD BE WALKING DOWN A STREET WHEN HE IS CONFRONTED BY AN ARMED ROBBER THAT DEMANDED FROM HIM, "GIVE ME YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE." JACK WOULD TAKE A LONG PAUSE AND SAY NOTHING UNTIL THE ROBBER IMPATIENTLY SAID, "WELL?" JACK THEN SAID, "DON'T RUSH ME, I'M THINKING ABOUT IT!" WHILE THIS IS FUNNY ONLY BECAUSE IT IS RIDICULOUS, IT MIGHT HAVE MORE TRUTH IN IT THAN WE WOULD LIKE TO ADMIT. -- Source Unknown
6. We are once again faced with Jesus' statement in the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the pure in heart, FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD."
a. Where there is no pollution, we can see clearly.
b. Where our hearts are not pulled in more than one direction we have peace and happiness.
c. The world's best might be 99 44/100% pure ... Christ's righteousness can make us 100% pure.
7. Where are your treasures?
8. How pure is your eyesight?
9. What master do you serve?
10. HOW PURE, AND THUS, HOW BLESSED ARE YOU?
CONCLUSION: The "pure in heart" are happy and blessed because there is no pollution to be concerned about. The "pure" shall see God because their hearts are "clear" from the contamination of this world. Remember Jesus asking us to pray in our "closet" (6:6)? The world "closet" here is the same exact word translated here (6:19) as "treasure." The closet was the treasure room. To pray here put one in close contact with their treasures and that is where their heart was! What kind of treasures do you have? How "pure" and happy are you?