The Pure Heart
Paul L. Garlington
 
“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be perfect.’” (Gen 17:1) To such a command, there is always a universal, predictable knee-jerk response. “What an impossible demand for God to make of Abram, or anyone else for that matter!” Is God, perhaps in fact, really stacking the deck against Abram in order to guarantee his failure and ultimate condemnation? Has this been your fear about God, good? Furthermore, was Jesus complicating this issue beyond resolution when He said, “Therefore, you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”? Isn’t it true that when most of us think perfection, we assume the demand is either for flawless performance or a requirement to attain a state of being that we are painfully aware we do not now possess, and are in dread fear that we will never achieve?

Behold I bring you good news! Is it possible that the seemingly insoluble problem exists solely because man, in his incessant ego-tripping, always thinks that everything begins with and revolves around himself? But observe that God always begins with HIMSELF for there is none else. Hence, God says to Abram, “I Am God Almighty...Is there anything too difficult (wonderful) for the Lord?” With man, this is impossible; with God, all things are possible. Do you get it? Since God is One, the only power, and will not, yea even cannot, give His glory to another for there is none else, the demand can only be made upon God. In other words, because Abram forsook the idol gods of his father to embrace the One God who is all in all, he came to understand the true meaning of the command, “Be perfect.” It is literally a command to Abram to rejoice in the eternal truth that God is the life, being, self that I Am. Do you see it? Abiding in the truth that God is being all that God is AS me, doing all that God does AS me is the secret of being perfect even as the Father in heaven.

So what, if any, responsibility remains for Abram? In this context, the literal meaning of perfect is complete, blameless, sincere, having integrity, or 100% intent from the heart. To put it simply, “It’s a heart thing.” In other words, when you decide with 100% intentionality to love the One God, besides whom, there is no other power, presence, or intelligence, then you will discover to your never-ending joy that it is indeed God who works in you, yes AS you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do you see it? You will know when God is living the only life that is AS you, for you will feel God’s pleasure. That is, you will literally be blissed out. If this isn’t heaven, I challenge anybody to come up with an alternative that wouldn’t prove to be light years away.

When God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint a king, and Eliab came out first, Samuel’s response was, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” Obviously, Samuel felt this way because he was still hung up on Saul who stood head and shoulders above the average Israelite, and Eliab had a striking resemblance to Saul. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (heartsight).’” (1 Sam 16:6,7) So if God looks exclusively at the heart, then the issue cannot be the degree of one’s holiness or the quality of one’s performance, but the intent of the heart to glorify the One God besides whom there is none other. This is why the Apostle Peter said to the people who were full of amazement over the miracle that was accomplished upon the crippled man, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” (Acts 3:12) To be sure, there will be times along this path that we will make mistakes, experience doubt, fear and uncertainty, even to the point that we are severely tempted to question God’s very existence. Fear not! All of this is just the residual that remains from our sojourn in the far country. Take no thought for your life, or your performance, nor the judgments that others may have about you. Just keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it will most assuredly flow the issues of life. In other words, if you will focus your attention exclusively on the maintenance of the heart that has 100% intent to love the One God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, God for His own pleasure will take extreme delight in being all that God is AS you.

The word sincere from the Latin word sincerus means pure, unadulterated. The word was commonly used in the marketplaces of old when one would consider purchasing some type of pottery, a vase, for example. The potential buyer would often ask the merchant, “Is this vase sincere?” The question was asked because there was an all too common practice in those days of attempting to pass off an inferior article for the real thing by filling in any flaws or cracks in the pottery with wax and then painting over the repair. While the article might look acceptable on the surface, once subjected to heat, the wax would melt and reveal its hidden imperfections. The implications of this analogy should be quite obvious. Do you crack under pressure? Is your true intent or lack of sincerity of heart revealed, more often than perhaps you would like to admit, when the furnace of life’s situations seems to be heated seven times hotter than it ought to be? Do you at such a time prefer to believe that the situation determined your behavior and unfaithfulness to the truth, rather than accept the fact that the heat simply exposed the hidden defect in your commitment? Do you find this line of thought unsettling to the point that it elicits profound protest from you? Me thinks thou protesteth too much.

“Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, ‘Is it true...that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute...and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the golden image that I have made, very well. But if you will not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?’ Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter (i.e., You must be trippin’! We don’t even need time to confer among ourselves about this absurd command!). If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. BUT (and we want you to be very clear, O king, on this critical point) even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’”

THEN Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered (distorted beyond recognition, that is, the hideous nature of his ridiculous request is now etched upon his countenance) toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain valiant warriors...to cast [Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego] into the blazing fire. Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. For this reason, because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. (Please note the dire consequence that befell the men who foolishly chose to give glory to a mortal man rather than the One God.) But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up (but still very much alive).”

THEN Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he responded and said to his high officials, ‘Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘Certainly, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’...Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire....The fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.” (Dan 3:13-27) For Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, the fire did not consume them, but rather revealed the sincerity of their hearts. It is essential that we understand that while we cannot guarantee that God will save us from the fire, we can go into the fire with a sincere heart based upon 100% intentionality to glorify God, yea even in the fire. There are several wonderful consequences that these three Hebrew devotees enjoyed. They are:
  1. Every kind of bondage placed upon you by man is consumed in the fire, but as for you, the fire is so ineffectual that you come out without even the smell of having ever been in the furnace.
  2. In the furnace of fire, you are never alone for there is a revelation of the presence of God that will amaze even those who condemned you to the insatiable flames.
  3. Because man has so blatantly failed in the ultimate weapon he can use against you, namely the fear of death, you are now blissfully free and totally indifferent to the threats of man. At this point, you have proven to yourself and everyone else, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” (Heb 13:6)

This journey of no distance is based upon the truth that oneness is the only reality. God is, therefore, I am. “I am the vine, you are the branches.” “...If the root be holy, the branches are too.” (Jn 15:5; Rom 11:16) Is it beginning to make sense? Whatever is true of the root and vine is also true of the branches. Therefore, for example, holiness (wholeness) is an inevitable consequence of oneness/union rather than individual attainment that would only be an occasion for human boasting anyway. Vine-life is the only life for the One God is all in all. Is this truth starting to make your heart skip for joy? “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of host.” (Jer 15:16) The eternal, unchangeable good news is that the wholeness, completeness, and perfection that God is, is also our present reality, all appearances notwithstanding, through the fact of oneness. To boldly assume this fact and act upon this assumption will result in every facet of our daily experience manifesting that we are indeed perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing.

So you see, through the truth that God is and the fact that we all live and move and have our being in the divine reality, we can now grasp the elusive brass ring called perfection. When we begin with God as One, absolute, all power, presence and mind, besides whom there is none else, perfection is an issue of the heart. Therefore, when James, the writer of the new testament epistle, says, “Purify your hearts, ye double-minded,” he makes it clear that to be in two minds about the exclusive claim of the One God is to forfeit the pure heart and perfection. In other words, once we have conceded to another power, presence, and intelligence apart from the One God, we become darkened in our understanding because we have forsaken our faithfulness. Hence, the psalmist declares, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Ps 24:3-5)

Isn’t it obvious since the One God is the only power, nothing is left but emptiness, vanity, and futility? Moreover, to claim to love this One God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, while giving credit to any other person, place or thing as power, is to swear deceitfully? No wonder the Apostle Paul says that we who have been subjected to futility will be set free from slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. “But whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil (caused by the futility of believing in two or more powers) is taken away. Now the Lord (i.e., the Lord who is One, unchallenged, unopposed, sharing the turf with none else) is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is (and pray tell, where is the Spirit of the Lord absent since God is omnipresent), THERE IS LIBERTY.” (2 Cor 3:16,17)

But now to the burning question. Let me anticipate the question that perhaps you might be too embarrassed to articulate. Namely, what are the practical, daily, mundane benefits of this very deep, mystical, heavy revelation? As the salesman said to me when he felt like he had me exactly where he wanted me, “I’m glad you asked that question!” Having previously established that the glorious consequence of vine-life, oneness, is the fact that whatever is true of the vine, I Am, is true of us, the branches, let us now explore the exciting, inevitable implications for those who boldly act on this truth. For example, Jesus said, with God, all things are possible. Since God is living the only life that is as me, then I must boldly acknowledge that all things are possible to me through oneness. Or again, the psalmist declares, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” (Ps 24:1) To this, the prophet Haggai bears witness when he says, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine.” No wonder the Father, in the parable of the prodigal son, says to the elder son, “My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Can you feel it? Is the light dawning? All that the Father is and all that the Father includes is mine through an eternal, inseparable union based on the truth that God is One. The only thing that is necessary to actualize this truth in my experience is a daily life of abiding, keeping my perfect heart with all diligence. Therefore, the only position that glorifies God is to REJOICE IN THE FACT THAT THE INFINITE AFFLUENCE THAT GOD IS, I AM. Consequently, there is always enough and to spare.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? Do not be anxious then, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Mat 6:28-32). Since God as infinite affluence is also omnipresent, abundance of all good things is all there is. Put another way, there is no lack of any kind in any degree anywhere in the whole of omnipotent being. Hence, if we literally begin to observe the lilies of the field, how they grow, we will soon rid ourselves of all anxiety by resting in the fact that, if the Father delights to so extravagantly adorn the grass of the field even if it is just for a day, how much more will He do for us? Moreover, this experience of divine opulence occurs without efforting on the part of the lily? Do you see it? Abiding, yea even resting, in the truth of the oneness we enjoy with the Father causes us to be adorned lavishly without sweat, toil, pain or strain. Waste is only an issue for those who begin with lack rather than God.

In the light of these profound, yet exceedingly practical insights, let us begin now to boldly claim, “I am debt free and financially independent.” How can it be otherwise? Since all things are possible because infinite power now lives the only life that is as us, we see no problems, think no lack, assume no limits. We affirm with joy, everyday is the day the Lord has made. I will be glad and rejoice in it. To be sure, there will always be those who will instantly plead with us to be realistic in the light of human experience. To these I instantly respond, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Down through the ages, it has always been the pure in heart who are undivided in their loyalty to the truth that God is One, who kept their hearts perfect in their generation, who conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, quenched the power of fire, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put armies to flight, etc. In every era and every religion, there have always been those who stood out as lights in a dark place, bearing witness to the truth that God is One, and showing forth the glorious fruitage of those who keep their hearts perfect before God. Can you hear the thundering witness within your inner being saying to you in your generation, “I am the Almighty God. Walk before Me and be perfect”? If you can, you are ready to march to the beat of a different drummer. Since divine life is our life, we can feel the pulse and rhythm of Divine Being functioning as the life that I am.

Feel the rhythm,
Hear the beat.
Listen to the melody,
Everybody move your feet.
Sing a new song.
We all belong,
In the house of the One God,
Celebrating all day long.
If you wanna go,
You got to get in the flow.
If you wanna go,
You got to get in the flow.
Flow with the rhythm,
Flow with the beat,
Signs and wonders at your feet.


I can assure you, that the time will come, even if you are ninety-nine years of age, that the Almighty will say unto you, in spite of all your doubts, fears, and mental reservations, “Is there anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the appointed time (festive gathering), it (every fulfilled desire) shall be seen.” There has never been in the history of mankind, anyone who placed radical trust in the One God who has ever been made ashamed. Begin to rejoice now for behold, “I come quickly and my reward is with Me.”

 
 

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