How about this one: “Who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” David posed this question to God in Psalm 15:1.
In other words, who is qualified to have intimate fellowship with the Creator of the universe? Who is fit to come into the presence of God? Or, how can I know whether I’ll go to heaven when I die?
David then answers his own question with a list of twelve requirements (Psalm 15:2-5). Just the first one is enough to make me tremble: “He whose walk is blameless.” The second one doesn’t make me feel much better: “He who does what is righteous.”
I’m intrigued by the fact that Psalm 15 follows Psalm 14. In the previous psalm, David tells us how sinful we are. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). And now he is saying that to be with God, I must be blameless.
Certainly this is cause for concern, if not confusion.
But I think there’s a method to David’s theological madness. Could it be that Psalm 14 and Psalm 15 are providing the key that unlocks the door to heaven?
Yes, God hates evil and therefore, in our natural sinful state, we have been barred from His presence. Somehow we must find a solution to our sin problem. To make matters worse, not only must we get rid of our sin, God also requires that we be righteous. The standards of Psalm 15:2-5 were summarized succinctly by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Be perfect . . . as your heavenly father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Again, I’m frustrated. How can I be perfect when my heart is “deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9)?
The solution is found in biblical concept of justification. It first appears in Genesis 15:6 – “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Justification is the act of God whereby he declares the guilty sinner to be righteous, even though he’s not. It’s a legal pronouncement from the courtroom of heaven that we are not only acquitted of all wrongdoing, we are also treated as if we have always done the right thing.
David was aware of this teaching, along with the related concepts of atonement (or covering) and forgiveness (or pardon) of sin, for he wrote these words in another psalm: “Blessed is he whose sin is forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed in the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Psalm 34:1-2).
God cannot dwell with an unforgiven, unjustified sinner. But He does welcome the forgiven, justified sinner into His presence. The biblical meaning of the word “saint” is “holy one,” i.e. a person who has been declared holy by God and thereby given the perfection of Christ. This is the crux of 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “God made [Christ] who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God.”
The solution to our sin problem is the death of Jesus Christ. By faith we must embrace Him as our sin-bearer and substitute. When I allow His death to become my death, God’s holy wrath against my sin is poured out on Jesus instead of me, and I can then receive the gifts of forgiveness, justification and righteousness.
Isaiah said it well:
“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).
It is your desire to live with God both in this life and the next? Then look to Jesus, for only He can provide the robe of righteousness you must wear to come into the Father’s presence.