Psalm 15 says:
Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous.
Also, Psalm 24 says:
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart.
Righteousness and pure hearts are pretty hard to find these days. When I sincerely look into my heart, my initial response is: Me, standing in the presence of the Lord? Not a chance! I am fully aware of the fact that, on my own, I will never be able to enter God’s presence.
After many, many years of reading the Bible, I have found a very interesting principle. The issue of justification is not directly related to my ability to do good. In my heart, there is a desire to do good. But in reality, I know I am not good. I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for more than 30 years, and I am still not a good Christian. I guess at this point in my life it is safe to conclude that I will never be a good Christian.
But, despite my sin, I believe.
Many years ago, a sick woman heard that Jesus was walking around her hometown (Matthew 9: 20-22). She had been sick for many years, and doctors had not given her any hope for healing. But when she heard that Jesus was in the area, she said to herself: “If I only touch his garment, I will be healed”.
Like me, the woman knew her condition, and yet, both, the woman and I have said: “If only I can touch him, I will be healed”. The sick woman and I are the same. We both know our terrible condition, our lack of hope, but we believe that if we could just touch him, all things will be made well.
The Bible says: “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2).
Justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, here is a great mystery, and perhaps, something we need to understand clearly in our lives. Justification is not a result of my actions. Justification is a result of my faith -faith in God’s promises.
The woman had faith to be healed, but Jesus said: “Your faith has saved you”. She believed and was healed, but she was also -miracle of miracles- saved!
This has always been the case. From the very beginning of history, faith in God and his promises has always been the key to our righteousness before the Lord. “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
The sick woman, as soon as she touched Jesus’ garment, was healed. But, very interestingly, Jesus’ words to her were: “Your faith has saved you”. When the woman believed, the result of her faith was infinitely greater than what she had ever expected, thought or imagined. Her faith, in addition to healing her, justified her; made her relationship right with God; made her righteous before the Lord.
Now, going back to our original questions:
Who can dwell in God’s sanctuary?
Who can live in God’s holy hill?
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Whose walk is blameless?
Whose hands are clean?
Whose heart is pure?
Who does what is righteous?
The answer is: Nobody.
The question to be asked is: Who believes? Who has faith?
Doing good things is easy. Everyone can give food to the poor, everyone can go to a house of worship and repeat a prayer or sing a song, everybody can abstain from food or pleasure for religious reasons. Believing is not easy. Believing requires everything in me, my mind (my thoughts), my heart (my feelings), and my strength (my actions), to know that the only way to attain righteousness before the Lord is to believe in Him and his promises.
Believing is harder than doing good.
The one thing I know about myself (and which will always be impossible to know about anyone else) is this: Yes, I am a sinner, but I believe with all my mind, my heart, and my strength, and I will see the Lord.
Do you? Will you?