“Those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name…. So you will distinguish between the righteous and the wicked.” (Malachi 3:16-18).
The above verses tell us of two groups of people – the righteous and the wicked. It says there that God has “a book of remembrance” which contains the names of those Christians alone who truly fear God and who esteem His Name. And God says that that is how the truly righteous will be distinguished from the wicked.
These words can be connected with what Jesus said in Matthew 23:25, 26. The wicked Pharisees, He said there, kept only the outside of the cup clean; whereas the truly righteous keep both the inside of the cup as well as the outside clean. This is how we distinguish the righteous from the wicked.
Believers who truly fear God will always keep their hearts pure before God as well as let their light (the outward testimony of their life) shine before people. A life of genuine victory over sin is possible only in one who considers his inner life as all-important.
There is also a vast difference between having a clean conscience and a pure heart. A clean conscience is one that is free from all known sin; whereas a pure heart is one that is not only free from all known sin, but also free from attachment to everything other than God Himself. The one who has a pure heart sees God alone and nothing and no-one else. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). The pure in heart see God alone, in every situation. Their minds will not be occupied with people (good or evil) or with their circumstances (easy or difficult). They will be occupied only with God Himself.
One who has a complaint against another thereby proves that his heart is not pure, for he is not occupied with God alone but with the evil he sees in another. If his heart were pure, he would see only God – even in the difficult situations created by difficult people! Such a person would see God as working in those difficult situations not only for his good (Rom.8:28) but also for the glory of God. Then he will be praising God for everything.
If your heart is truly pure, then all the people in the world and all the demons in the universe together will not be able to hinder God’s plan for your life from being fulfilled – for God will work for you in every situation. You will then be an overcomer in every situation – and you will be able to fulfil God’s perfect plan for your life.
The Bible says, “As in water, face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man” (Proverbs 27:19). One meaning of this verse is that when you impute bad motives to others for some things that they do, that would actually reveal the condition of your own heart – because you are assuming that they must be doing those things with the same bad motive that you would have had, if you did those same things. But Jesus told us to assess people only by their fruit (external actions) (“By their fruit you shall know them” – Matthew 7:16) – and not by their roots (their motives, which cannot be seen!) If we are living in a constant cleansing of ourselves, we will judge only ourselves and not the motives of other people. Then we will be able to keep our hearts pure always. Then God Himself will give us discernment about others, so that we are not deceived. Jesus’ heart was always pure, because He never judged anyone (John 8:15), but had discernment about everyone (John 2:24,25).
Here is an example of what it means to keep our heart pure. Brother Juniper was a godly man who lived in Italy in the 13th century. He always dressed in very simple clothes. One day he saw one of his fellow-brothers dressed in very expensive clothes. But Juniper did not judge him for that. Instead, he said to himself, “Perhaps under those expensive clothes, my brother has a humbler heart than I have under these simple clothes.” With such a pure and humble attitude, he preserved himself from the sin of judging his brother. That was one secret of his godliness – and that is a good example for all of us to follow. May we be like that always. Amen.