In scripture the word purity is used a couple of ways to describe our heart and it’s condition. The first general meaning of this word is cleanliness, meaning to be clean and have proper hygiene. That will do little to scrub the heart clean. Long ago Job wrote, “If I wash myself with snow water, and cleanse my hands with soap” would I be clean? Any religiously legal heart would want to immediately start a new group of the pure hearted and call it the “First Church of the Snow Water and Soap.” This is why the phrase “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is really only slightly true and really not mentioned in the Bible.
Cleanliness and ethics have far different meanings. One relates to filth and the other relates to sin. They are closely used at times for descriptive effect. Isaiah wrote, “Depart! Depart! Go out from there. Touch no unclean thing. Go out from the midst of her; be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.” These two forms of purity are characterized together as ethical cleanness. No one blends this as well as David, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.” The law of purity (hygiene) is interpretive of a spiritual cleanness. Moral cleanliness certainly takes on both aspects of purity. We are not under Levitical and ceremonial law, but we are under ethical and moral law forever…and ever shall be. Purity of heart was not, and is not, superseded by Jesus and grace. Grace makes the ethical attractive in Christ. By the Holy Spirit living in us we have an internal response to the ethical law. That response is grace. It is now possible for a pure heart to fulfill a pure law.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Jesus