3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3–5, NKJV)
One does not accidentally stand in the presence of Almighty God. Fellowship with Him is a privilege. Only the one who is holy as God is holy will be granted a place in His presence. One cannot live in the defilement of sin and properly claim a place of blessing in His holy place; such would be incompatible with the holiness of God. If you wish to ascend to God’s holy hill of habitation, the psalmist David explains the faith that must characterize your life. First, cleanse your hands. You cannot do impure things and stand in God’s holy place. Pure actions require a pure heart. Purge your mind of evil thinking so that you may stand in God’s presence. Additionally, you must not lift up any idol in your heart. Only the true and living God has a place in the soul of the person with whom God has communion. Finally, be an honest person, one who does not deceive or mislead with your words. God’s blessing of righteousness and salvation is given to the person of faith who is holy in heart, in word and in deed (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17, NKJV)
In an age when many people possess the mind of Pilate (who said, “What is truth?”), faithful Christians continue to affirm God’s word as truth (Jno. 18:38). Please note it is God’s word that is truth, not the word of human beings. The Bible is not a collection of the opinions men, or the fables of fallible men; it is the inspired, inerrant, communication of the mind of God to the world (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 14:37). Divine truth has the power to sanctify sinners (“to purify, to consecrate, to make holy,” Jno. 17:19). Christians are “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and therefore, “called saints” (1 Cor. 1:2). The “Holy Scriptures” make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Thus, when we believe and obey truth, we are set apart from sin and set apart unto Christ (2 Thess. 2:13-14). Have faith that God’s word is truth. It has power to save you and power to lead your life in holy and godly conduct.
Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple. (Psalm 65:4, NKJV)
God chose David, a man after God’s own heart, to rule over His people Israel. David praised God for this rich blessing and the ability to come into God’s presence. David and his people were content, filled up with the blessings of approaching and serving God. Today, the church of Christ is the temple of God (Eph. 2:19-22). Like David, we ought to be satisfied by our spiritual blessings in Christ, which bring us into God’s presence and sustain us in His fellowship (1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 1:3-4). Truly, God is good. And so, we do not complain about the church as Christ built it. Its worship, its organization, its work, its ethics and morality elicits our praise and honor of the Lord. Instead of attempting to innovate and improve upon God’s holy temple, be satisfied to be a living stone in His temple and offer God acceptable, spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5).
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4–5, NKJV)
God chose Jesus Christ as the living stone – risen from the dead – from whom and by whom His house would be built (Matt. 16:16-18; Acts 4:11-12). Christians are “living stones” in God’s spiritual house, the church (1 Tim. 3:15). We were dead trespasses and sins, but He made us alive, saving us in Christ, the living Son of the living God (Eph. 2:1-7). And so, Christians are priests, composing a “holy priesthood” that offers up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. Because we are priests, our hearts and lives must be pure, respecting the holiness of God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). Take your role as priest seriously. Come before God with clean hands and a pure heart to do His revealed will (Jas. 4:8).
1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ” So Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1–3, NKJV)
By offering “profane fire” before the Lord, priests Nadab and Abihu were executed by God. Let us see two things wrong with bringing before God that “which He had not commanded.” First, they failed to regard God as holy: “I must be regarded as holy” (v. 3). We must approach God with utter respect for His holiness, only bringing before Him the worship and service He commands. Secondly, they failed to glorify God before His people Israel: “And before all the people I must be glorified” (v. 3). They dishonored God when they offered Him something He had not commanded. Be diligent not to change God’s commanded worship, thereby dishonoring Him. We do not get to decide the parameters of acceptable worship; God does (Jno. 4:23-24). Those who worship God “must worship in spirit and truth” (Jno. 4:24). God is holy, therefore, He defines true worship. God must be glorified, therefore, be faithful and obedient to His revealed will.
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:1–3, NKJV)
Isaiah’s vision of the Lord sitting upon His heavenly throne presents a magnificent scene of the Lord Almighty in all His majesty, power, splendor and holiness. Heavenly beings attend Him and praise Him for His holiness, acknowledging His creation magnificently displays His grandeur and brilliance. How very unlike the gods that men have made for themselves throughout the ages. Their false gods rise no higher than the human imagination and vices from which they sprang. In vivid contrast, the earth proclaims the majesty of the Almighty and His holiness. This becomes more dramatic when we learn from the apostle John that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus; He is the Lord sitting on the throne, lifted up and holy (John 12:37-41). Jesus is worthy of our faithful praise and service, for He is the Lord Almighty.
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:6, NKJV)
An unwillingness to make any moral and religious judgments puts a person at odds with Jesus. After warning against making hypocritical judgments in Matthew 7:1-5, He commands us to make several judgments. We must judge what is “holy” and are “pearls”, as well as who are “dogs” and “swine” (the two-legged kind). Then, we must judge when not to give holy things to the dogs and when not to cast pearls before swine. But, are these judgments left up to our personal assessment? No, because God’s word tells us about holy things and true valuables (cf. Matt. 13:44-46). He identifies the figurative dogs and swine for us (cf. Phil. 3:2). The Scriptures reveal God’s judgments. We shall test ourselves against His judgments conform our lives to His words. When evil people despise God’s truth we must judge when to “shake off the dust” from our feet and move to others who will hear and respect the gospel of Christ (Matt. 10:14-15). (Or, have you reached a point where you will not judge something and someone as evil?) “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9).
10 Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah: 11 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. 12 “When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:10-15)
Israel had wearied the Lord God with their sacrifices of worship and offerings of praise while they simultaneously defiled themselves with all manner of sin (see Isa. 1:4, where God described His children as a “brood of evildoers”). We cannot successfully worship and serve God with defiled hands; only “holy hands” will do (cf. 1 Tim. 2:8). Pretending to love God while practicing sin is as unholy as the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Cleanse yourself of sin’s defilement that your sacrifices of praise will honor and please Him (Isa. 1:18-20).