Clean hands and a pure heart - two conditions we often find eluding us. Our hands get "dirtied" by the things we do - the actions we take. Our hearts reveal their "soiled" condition by the words we speak, the thoughts we entertain, etc. Today's passage points to the benefits of both clean hands and a pure heart:
3 Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart. He who has not lifted up his soul to what is not true, and has not made false promises. 5 He will receive what is good from the Lord, and what is right and good from the God Who saves him. (Psalm 24:3-5 New Life Version)
The question posed - who may go up to the mountain of the Lord? Today we don't find ourselves making the journey to the city of Jerusalem in order to go to the Temple of the Lord. In the times of the psalmist, this was a regular journey for the worshipers of the Lord. In fact, there were regularly "scheduled" feast days when all of Israel was to gather, bringing various types of offerings. Each offering served a purpose - some to make "atonement" for sins, others to offer thanks for the tremendous harvest taken in from the fields.
Today, we think of "going up to the mountain of the Lord" as approaching the throne of grace. It is the same as us going into God's presence, sitting at his feet, and worshiping him. Since the completed work of Christ at the cross, we all have this access to the "holy place" of God's presence. In fact, scripture declares we may come boldly into his presence! Yet, the "condition" of our hands and hearts may give us a little concern in doing so!
Clean hands and a pure heart are not a one time condition. The ability to keep clean hands is impossible without frequent washing! Think about it - how many times in a day do you "physically" wash your hands? Why do you wash? Simple - to get rid of what "contaminates" those hands! You desire they be clean before you eat, after you touch something which "soils" them, or just as "good measure". The same is true of our "spiritual hands". They need frequent washing to remain clean!
Purity of heart is elusive if the heart is not continually touched by the great healer himself. In time, our physical heart will become "occluded" with all kinds of fatty build up and hardened by "calcified" crusts. A similar process occurs when our heart is not continually renewed by the touch of God's healing. We begin to feel the "choking off" of the very supply we need in order to survive. We become hardened to the things which move his heart so freely. Our hearts need "tending" and "mending" in order to beat as his does!
Look at the passage again. He who has not lifted up his soul to what is not true and has not made false promises will enter boldly into the presence of God. Guess what? All of us struggle with getting a grip on truth! All of us absent-mindedly promise things we have very little intention of ever doing! Yet...by the grace of God, we can enter boldly into the presence of God. It is as we "wash again" and submit to the "purifying process" of God's touch we are made "clean" and "pure".
No one struggles alone - we are all in the same boat! Maybe this is why God encourages us to look out for each other, spurring one another on in this walk of grace! We all need grace - renewing of our minds, cleansing of our hearts, and anointing of our actions. So, who goes up to the presence of God - ALL who are willing to be washed! We don't wash alone! There is BIG "sink" in God's house!