READING OF THE LAW: "The Sin of Mere Outward Purity" - Matthew 23:25. Here, the Pharisees are denounced by Christ for their outward purity, but not inward. The word for "clean" is the same word for "pure" in Matthew 5. They were outwardly "pure" but not pure in heart. In this way, the Pharisees are excellent examples of those who saw only the external commands of purity. Purity does not come by ritual or outward appearance, dress, or even behavior alone. Rather, purity must start from, and include, the inward purity of our desires and affections. Failure to do this makes us "whitewashed sepulchres" - pure outwardly, but impure inwardly.
READING OF THE GOSPEL: "The Children of God Seek True Purity" - 1John 3:1-3. Being children of God means we are destined to be like His Child, Jesus Christ. The main idea of being like Him is seen in verse 3, where John emphasizes purity. Those who are God's children now (in this life) seek to be more like Jesus, who was pure. Purity is not sought in order to become a child, but because one already is a child. Only those born again can truly seek - and in this life partly obtain - purity of heart. Only those who are God's children have the hope and anticipation that one day we will be totally pure.
SERMON; Blessed Are The Pure In Heart - Matthew 5:8 "True Purity" - In the OT, the priests were commanded to be ritually pure in order to perform their duties. This ritual purity consisted of washings that represented their cleanness before God. But this picture was meant to show that God demands true purity. Not the outward, or external, purity. Rather, God demands purity "in heart."