Our Psalm for prayer this week, Psalm 15, is striking even if it is a little confusing. I hope it’s got your attention.
A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
The basic question is: “How can anybody possibly stand before God on these terms?” According to this psalm, I have to be blameless in:
· doing what is right
· always telling the truth IN MY HEART
· not slandering
· always siding with the right people
· despising unbelievers
· honoring believers
· keeping my promises
· financially generous, organized, and content.
Kick me out and ban me from ever getting back in. This person is well nigh perfect. It excludes me… and everybody else I know. So nobody gets to fellowship with God?
Yesterday I had the awesome privilege of sharing the Gospel with a young lady. As I went through the bad news of man’s sin and God’s justice, I then said, “We are all in big trouble, but God loved us so much he solved our unsolvable problem. Do you know how he did that?” It was so encouraging to watch her twisted face brighten up as she nearly leaped out of her chair and said, “Oh! Jesus!”
She had heard about Jesus before, but she’d never really put two and two together and figured out that he was the solution to our problems. All of them.
Jesus is WHY we can fellowship with God. Because of his work on our behalf and through faith in him alone, we can fellowship with God.
This psalm is not talking about that. It is assuming that. This psalm is talking about the person who’s already entered into the tabernacle and passed the brazen altar, where Jesus’s substitionary death is pictured in all its gory glory. The brazen altar is WHY anybody can then enter the tent of God’s present and fellowship with God.
This psalm is talking about WHO. What do people act like who have come to Christ? What is the work of sanctification that Jesus does in the life of those who’ve passed the brazen altar? What does that life look like more and more and more?
Well, he or she looks more and more like the same Jesus who died on the brazen altar. He acts more and more like Christ. The bread of life feeds him from that table of showbread. That person grows and develops. The light of the world enlightens him from the candelabra. That person begins to see things from God’s perspective. His or her prayers ascend to God more and more consistently just like the incense from the altar in the center of the Holy Place.
The point is that those who don’t live this way have most likely never passed the brazen altar. Or at least they should go back and take a good long look at those flames and realize just how hot and consuming they are. This psalm describes what Christ does to the person WHO dwells in the tent, who first stopped at the brazen altar and saw that the only reason WHY a person can enter the tent is because somebody innocent and perfect took their place and absorbed God’s fiery wrath.
Don’t let this psalm either discourage you or puff you up. None of us qualify on our own, but thankfully somebody has already taken care of that, as long as your faith is solely and fully in him for those qualifications. Are you one of the WHO that has come to him?
He is the WHY. Always. Perfectly. And when he is the WHY, the WHO that trust him and grow in his grace shall never be moved.