October 2018 Newsletter - "The Pure in Heart" by Nathan Padilla
The purity of our hearts enables us to approach a level of intimacy and closeness to God that, quite honestly, very few achieve. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” [Mat_5:8] One who is knowledgeable of Scripture will know that this sounds contradictory. For one Yahweh tells Moses “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." [Exo_33:20] However, when Aaron and Miriam came against Moses, Yahweh rebukes them, specifying “Then He said, ‘Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?’"[Num 12:6-8]. We also have the Gospels where Yahushua/Jesus Himself says “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.” [Joh_6:46]. Now this may imply that there is a contradiction; nevertheless, those who have eyes to see and ears to hear and a HEART to perceive will understand.
First, we must understand that what seems like a contradiction is actually hinting to a mystery awaiting to be unlocked. All the Ante Nicene Fathers understood this notion that these seemingly contradictory verses are awaiting to be unlocked. Thus, let us take into consideration with our first example as I wrote above, concerning Moses. Yahweh tells Moses that no one can see His face and live; however, when reprimanding Aaron and Miriam, He puts them in their place for murmuring against Moses, thinking they were at the same level as Moses just because they were operating in the prophetic gifts. They were sadly mistaken for their arrogant and obtuse allegation. Yahweh explains the different levels of prophecy and then makes the profound statement that Moses He knows “face to face,” and “sees the form of YHVH.” Form in Hebrew is temûnâh, which characterizes the image. So, what exactly happened? What changed? Well when Moses approached Mt. Sinai to see God, he died up there, “No one can see Me and live.” This is not a physical death, and the Apostle Paul explains this death that Moses went through: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,” [Rom_6:8]. One may think that Moses saw God the Father; however, Yahushua said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father;” [Joh_14:9] so when Moses ascended to Mt. Sinai, he saw the Son, “the invisible image of God,” [Col_1:15]. Now what does this have to do with having a pure heart? How does having a pure heart give us the ability to see God? Let us give ear to what Origen illuminates us with the meaning of the purity of the heart that enables us to see God.
Here, if any one lay before us the passage where it is said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” (Mat_5:8) from that very passage, in my opinion, will our position derive additional strength; for what else is seeing God in heart, but, according to our exposition as above, understanding and knowing Him with the mind? For the names of the organs of sense are frequently applied to the soul, so that it may be said to see with the eyes of the heart, i.e., to perform an intellectual act by means of the power of intelligence. So also, it is said to hear with the ears when it perceives the deeper meaning of a statement. So also, we say that it makes use of teeth, when it chews and eats the bread of life which cometh down from heaven. In like manner, also, it is said to employ the services of other members, which are transferred from their bodily appellations, and applied to the powers of the soul, according to the words of Solomon, “You will find a divine sense.” (Cf. Pro_2:5) For he knew that there were within us two kinds of senses: the one mortal, corruptible, human; the other immortal and intellectual, which he now termed divine. By this divine sense, therefore, not of the eyes, but of a pure heart, which is the mind, God may be seen by those who are worthy. For you will certainly find in all the Scriptures, both old and new, the term “heart” repeatedly used instead of “mind,” i.e., intellectual power. In this manner, therefore, although far below the dignity of the subject, have we spoken of the nature of God, as those who understand it under the limitation of the human understanding. In the next place, let us see what is meant by the name of Christ. (1)
Origen expresses to us clearly that we cannot see God through our physical eyes; we are only able to perceive the realm of the Spirit through our spiritual senses. Our heart is where we in the Spirit discern perceive and understand. Job disclosed, “But I could not discern its appearance,” (Job_4:16). Job could not see what he could not understand or perceive. The way we begin to use our spiritual senses is by Wisdom. The Apostle Paul stated that “those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb_5:14) Exercising the ability to discern between good and evil is also having the ability to see beyond the corporeal/earthly realm to an incorporeal/spiritual realm, and it is Wisdom that refines our spiritual senses and helps us to shut off the senses of our flesh. This is done by a circumcision of the heart, as flesh covers the spiritual sense of us having the ability to perceive. This is also done by Wisdom. How so? Well, the Apostle Paul stated that with our spiritual sense exercised, we would have the ability to “discern both good and evil.” The wise Solomon prayed, “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.” The book of Proverbs imparts to us an understanding of what Wisdom is: “That people may understand a proverb and a figure of speech or an enigma with its interpretation, and the words of the wise and their dark sayings or riddles,” (Pro_1:6, AMP).
Yahushua/Jesus came to teach us this wisdom, the ability to be able to understand the parables and secrets of the Kingdom, the dark sayings. By understanding the mysteries, we are thus exercising our spiritual senses and deadening our fleshly senses. Yahushua was teaching us to be able to see the Father. Yahushua was reversing what had happened in the Garden with Adam and Eve, the curse we were put under because of their fall. He came to close one set of eyes and open a different set. I will leave you with this passage from Origen, as he gives a formidable discourse on the difference between the two types of sense and how we separate the two.
Now let us hear what it is that he invites us to learn, that we may ascertain from him how we are to know God, although he thinks that his words are beyond the capacity of all Christians. “Let them hear,” says he, “if they are able to do so.” We have then to consider what the philosopher wishes us to hear from him. But instead of instructing us as he ought, he abuses us; and while he should have shown his goodwill to those whom he addresses at the outset of his discourse, he stigmatizes as “a cowardly race” men who would rather die than abjure Christianity even by a word, and who are ready to suffer every form of torture, or any kind of death. He also applies to us that epithet “carnal” or “flesh-indulging,” “although,” as we are wont to say, “we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth we know Him no more,” (2Co_5:16) and although we are so ready to lay down our lives for the cause of religion, that no philosopher could lay aside his robes more readily. He then addresses to us these words: “If, instead of exercising your senses, you look upwards with the soul; if, turning away the eye of the body, you open the eye of the mind, thus and thus only you will be able to see God.” He is not aware that this reference to the two eyes, the eye of the body and the eye of the mind, which he has borrowed from the Greeks, was in use among our own writers; for Moses, in his account of the creation of the world, introduces man before his transgression as both seeing and not seeing: seeing, when it is said of the woman, “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise;” (Gen_3:6) and again not seeing, as when he introduces the serpent saying to the woman, as if she and her husband had been blind, “God knows that on the day that ye eat thereof your eyes shall be opened;” (Gen_3:5) and also when it is said, “They did eat, and the eyes of both of them were opened.” (Gen_3:7) The eyes of sense were then opened, which they had done well to keep shut, that they might not be distracted, and hindered from seeing with the eyes of the mind; and it was those eyes of the mind which in consequence of sin, as I imagine, were then closed, with which they had up to that time enjoyed the delight of beholding God and His paradise. This twofold kind of vision in us was familiar to our Savior, who says,” For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not, might see, and that they which see might be made blind,” (Joh_9:39) - meaning, by the eyes that see not; the eyes of the mind, which are enlightened by His teaching; and the eyes which see are the eyes of sense, which His words do render blind, in order that the soul may look without distraction upon proper objects. All true Christians therefore have the eye of the mind sharpened, and the eye of sense closed; so that each one, according to the degree in which his better eye is quickened, and the eye of sense darkened, sees and knows the Supreme God, and His Son, who is the Word, Wisdom, and so forth. (2)
- Origen-De Principiis Bk I Ch. I, ANF Vol. 4
- Origen-Against Celsus Bk 7, ANF Vol. 4