A Psalm of David (Ps 15:1-5 NLT – New Living Translation)
David starts off with these questions in this psalm:
- Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
- Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Although we must answer the questions from a New Testament perspective, David already had the answers to these questions. Although he lived in the Old Testament times under the Law, his insight was so much more advanced than the rest of his people and even most other Christians for that matter.
Who may worship IN your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence…?
The writer of the book of Hebrews, wrote: “But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people” (Heb 9:7 KJV)
Because of sin, ONLY the High Priest could enter the sanctuary of the Lord – once a year and NOT without the blood of the sacrifice. Now we know that Jesus Christ was our perfect High Priest and perfect sacrifice whose blood was shed for our sins. Through the blood of Jesus Christ we have received eternal redemption from our sins (past and future). See the scripture below:
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Heb 9:11-12)
The veil in front of the Holy of Holies (the sanctuary) was rent from top to bottom and the way has been prepared (opened) by Jesus Christ for us to enter. But the principle of God still remains that you cannot enter His presence without the blood of the sacrifice. You will only receive the Blood of the sacrifice (the blood of Jesus) when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior, repent and are born-again through the water and the Spirit (John 3:5). In other words, you will have to sacrifice yourself (your own will and attitude) and accept the will of God and His attitude (character) for your life. According to John 1:12 we receive first of all the power to be called sons of God, but much more so the Word also declares in other Scriptures we receive the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is a gift from God to establish us once again without sin and shame.
The righteousness of Jesus Christ which we receive as a gift through faith in Him, establishes us once again as being blameless and innocent. As if you have never sinned before in your life. That’s why Paul could proclaim that he is a new creation:
- Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2Co 5:17 KJV)
There are so many scriptures that testifies of this miraculous gift that God has given us through faith and His grace. I don’t think the Church truly understand the real meaning of it all. Here is another one of Paul to the Church in Rome:
- But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
- For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; Rom 3:21 -25
So, now we can answer the questions ourselves: “Who may enter into His presence and worship in His sanctuary”?
- Those who are innocent and blameless through the blood of Jesus Christ!
And David already knew the answer because in verse 2 of Ps 15 he boldly declared it.
- Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts;
The people of Israel and therefore nobody else will be able to uphold the Old Testament law of Moses unto righteousness – not even the 10 Commandments. The Word makes it quite clearly that if you transgress in one stipulation of the Law, you are transgressing the whole law. Being under Grace and in righteousness of Christ does NOT give us or you now carte blanche to commit sin, “because we are under Grace”. No God forbid. It is especially the fact that we have received this awesome gift that inspire us to have a much more close and sincere relationship with our Lord and savior. Now it is not a framework of mind that we “are not allowed to do something wrong (against the Law)” , but more a sense of obedience to “we do not want to do something wrong”.
Let’s continue with the last few verses of this Psalm.
- Verse 3: “Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends”;
- Verse 4: “ Those who despise flagrant sinners and honors the faithful followers of the Lord and keep their promises even when it hurts;
- Verse 5: “Those who lend money without any interest and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.
From these few verses I can immediately see a couple of aspects that I would like to lift out:
- David is not writing about the requirements of the Law, but about righteousness;
- He clearly lifts up issues that are also covered by the Law, but he writes about people who are blameless and does these things because they WANT to and not because they are FORCED to.
- He writes about the correct character and attitude that we need to embrace in our lives. Sometimes we have to “refuse” things in our lives and “despise” the wrong in our own lives and in other people’s lives. It speaks of maturity in the Spirit. Never should we make compromises about the wrong (sin) in our or other people’s lives. Someone said: “Love the sinner, but hate the sin”. Mature people also know how to distinguish between right and wrong (Hebr 5:14)
- In verse 4 we need to distinguish between the sinners and the followers of God. Although we are in this world, we should not be from or as the world.
- Especially when it comes to the second part of this verse: “ … and keep their promises even when it hurts;” Unfortunately I have seen it too many times in the lives of children of God and even pastors who do not have any integrity. Keep your promises even if it hurts yourself, but also honor other fellow followers of God by returning a call, or answering an invitation or providing feedback when requested. Speak the truth in love! Don’t be a hypocrite and lie about a situation or why you did not attend an invitation. Do not just ignore a request or invitation from a fellow follower of God, because then it speaks of pride, egostism and a lack of consideration for your brother/sister. Do what you have promised to do! The Church of today needs leaders with true integrity – that of Christ!
- Verse 5 speaks of honesty and truthfulness. When you tell the truth, the truth will testify about itself and will stand the test of time. However, when you lie you will have to fabricate a complete set of other lies to substantiate the one lie and it will not stand the test of time. You will even have to exploit someone else as an accomplish to verify your version of the story and in the end more than one person will be in bondage because of one person and his/her stream of lies.
So, David concluded this very short Psalm with the following words:
- “Such people will stand firm forever”.
- “Such people” – Those who are blameless (in the righteousness of Christ) and who portray the correct character of Christ, being:
- Without sin – refuse to disobey the Word of God;
- Mature in their decisions – choosing between right and wrong;
- Walking and talking with integrity – fulfilling all your promises as Jesus fulfills His;
- Those who are honest and trustworthy.
Just five issues (5 = stands for Grace) that will allow you to enter His sanctuary. At the end it is only by Grace and the Blood of Jesus Christ that allows us in His presence.
Dr Eric Heath (D.Th) is the President of Galilee International Ministries (SA) in Pretoria and is available to lecture or minister on specific subjects as required. He can be contacted through this website.