Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pure Heart and Clean Hands

by Nicky Smith

As I have asked the Lord over and over what I need to do in order to see Jesus, I have been told that I need to sanctify myself. I have pondered what this means and over time the Spirit has revealed it to me. The quintessential verse describing sanctification is in Alma 13:
12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.
When you are sanctified you abhor sin. You become pure and spotless before God. I then asked God for more understanding and how I can become that. I have come to learn that in order to see Christ, I need to have clean hands and a pure heart. These are two separate elements which are closely related.

Clean hands relates to outward, observable actions. As we rid ourselves of those sins, we obtain clean hands. For example, if I angrily yell at my kids, if I am critical of my husband, if I I gossip or backbite, I do not have clean hands. One can come up many examples of sins where we would not have clean hands. Each of us could probably quickly identify many things in ourselves that lead to unclean hands. But, the Lord can help us see more that we might not be aware of.
86 Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes. (Doctrine and Covenants 88)
A pure heart, on the other hand, is often difficult to discern. Some things may be obvious to us, while other elements of our heart we may be unaware of. But, the Spirit can help us see ourselves as we really are. I might possess malice (saying or doing something to hurt another) or envy or pride and until I change my heart, I do not have a pure heart. Changing our hearts is not an easy process though. It can be extremely painful. But, there is no other way to come into the presence of the Lord. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says,
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Psalm 24 describes who will make it to Zion (the hill of the Lord). Those in Zion will be in a Terrestrial world and can be in the presence of Christ. These are those who have clean hands and a pure heart. These are those who seek Christ's face. If they do not have clean hands and a pure heart, they will not be able to remain there.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. (Psalm 24)
In fact, Doctrine and Covenants 97 describe Zion as the pure in heart.
21 Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.
Over and over again in the scriptures, we are told that the pure in heart are the ones that will make it through the desolation preceding the desolation and be in Zion.
8 But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am; for the veil of darkness shall soon be rent, and he that is not purified shall not abide the day. (Doctrine and Covenants 38)
16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God. (Doctrine and Covenants 97)
18 They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion— (Doctrine and Covenants 101)
As I have considered all the ways our hearts can be impure, I have realized the list is long: malicious, envious, jealous, unforgiving, hypocritical, idolatrous, deceiving, fearing man more than God, unbelieving, boastful, proud, and on and on. But, for each of these love is the opposite. If we want to rid ourselves of these sins, we need to learn to love God and others as Christ loves. 
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7)
Peter describes the same thing. He states that as we escape corruption (impure heart), we can become partakers of the divine nature (pure heart). We begin with developing diligence, then add faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and finally charity. Each of these build on each other. Notice how many are aspects of the heart, culminating in charity. The end result is knowledge of Jesus Christ, which only comes through a personal encounter with him.
 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1)
 Truly, God wants clean hands and a pure heart in each of us! 

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