Pure in Heart
And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God (3 Nephi 5:17). This is a remarkable promise — if one would like to see God, then he must first purify his heart. It is interesting that what must be “pure” is the heart. There are so many other things that one might measure. But what the Lord looks upon to determine purity is the “heart.” This is not just ritual purity, which had been the focus of the law of Moses. Christ is replacing the earlier, ritual-based purity with internal purity. He speaks about the heart, rather than the hands and feet. Christ is speaking about beholding God, unlike the retreat Israel took from the offered opportunity at Sinai (see T&C 82:12–14). He is returning to the time of Moses, when a higher way might have been chosen. Purity of the heart is a borrowed benefit from the Savior. Man cannot become clean before God without the necessary offering of a sacrifice. The law of Moses taught this, but Christ actually brought it to pass (see, e.g., Alma 16:37). Christ’s atonement cleanses mankind (see Alma 10:1; Ether 6:3). Through repentance, all can turn to Christ and listen to and follow Him. Until then, one is not even facing the right direction in life.“Some reminders of how the heart may be purified : Let virtue constantly prevail in your thoughts. Pray to the Father with a devoted heart. Repent and call upon God with a contrite spirit, asking the atonement to be applied to your sins. Fast and pray often, that you may become humble. Follow what light you have to receive more light, until you have the ‘perfect day’ in which you are a vessel of light.”
There is almost nothing about man that can become perfect in this life. The only thing that can approach perfection, however, is one’s intent. One can mean to follow God at all times — even if the dilemmas of life make it impossible to actually do so, one can still intend to follow Him. Often, one may not even know if what he is doing pleases God, let alone how to resolve conflicting interests or commandments. One may even be making a mistake, but if his intent is right, his heart may be pure. This is one of the reasons man is commanded to not judge another. Others may be weak, foolish, and error prone, but if they intend to be doing the right, then God alone can measure their hearts and decide whether they are approved. It would take a God to know if the person’s life, training, understanding, and intent are pure before Him. “I suspect there are those we look upon as deluded and even evil, but the Lord views them with compassion and understanding. He may find their hearts to be perfect even before the heart of the proud who claim they have and follow the truth. Though a person may misunderstand a great deal, still, if they have love for their fellow man, relieve suffering where they can, give patience to the foolish, and water to the thirsty, they may be perfect before God.”1 Impurity is like a compound that exists within each person, a compound that could be identified by the Lord and burned away. He is like the fuller’s soap or the refiner’s fire, where impurity is removed and something pure and clean is left behind. To survive that burning purge there must be so little to burn away that the injury from the burn will not threaten life. This is a useful way for each person to examine what is inside them and a useful way to reconsider their thoughts.2
1 “3 Nephi 12:8,” Oct. 6, 2010, blog post.
2 “3 Nephi 12:27–29,” Oct. 13, 2010, blog post.