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Psalm 15

Such An Important Question & Answer

Early last century there was a debate between two great theologians lover what theology should be like. One of them claimed that theology should be an "answering theology," ie. a theology which answers the question which the world is asking. For this man, relevance is all important. This has seen a growth in the effect of psychology in theology; always addressing "felt needs" always trying to meet the world where the world is at. The other theologian strongly disagreed. He claimed that the world doesn't know what the right quests to ask are. He claimed that God must reveal the questions as well as the answers.

Psalm 15 reveals the right questions and the right answers. Originally this Psalm was written as a wisdom teaching poem, it covers our walk, our works, and our words. It may have been teaching young people in Israel what was needed in order to come into the tabernacle, into the presence of Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel. They would come to the tabernacle and ask what was needed in order to enter the presence of the Lord. The question would have been answered by the priests, who would have set out the criteria for entry.

1. Such An Important Question:

The question which is asked in verse 1 is really the thrust of the whole Bible. It is asked in many different ways throughout the Bible. The rich young ruler coming to Jesus was asking the right question but didn't expect the answer he received. The Prophet Isaiah asked a similar question in Chapter 33:14f, "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire, who of us dwell with everlasting burning?"

The question the psalm asks is the most important question to ask, but just like the rich young ruler who came to Jesus, are ready for the answer, are we prepared to act upon the answer.
"Who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?"

What the psalm is asking is, "Who may live in the presence of God?" "Who can stand  before Him?" "Who can know Him now and forerver?" "Who can go to heaven?" The Psalmist is not ask a superficial question as to who can go up God's holy hill, who can go for a visit. The words "dwell" and "live=abide" raise the issue of permanence. The question here in verse one is concerned about destination and the qualification for getting there.

These are the issues which we must be concerned with, we must give serious attention to them. Because in answering them correctly we not only find the way of salvation, but we find the way in which we must approach God, and worship Him in our daily living. The question is concerned about about knowing God intimately in a personal one-to-one relationship. It is about remaining in the relationship and exercising the responsibilities and priveliges we have once we have such a relationship.

If I was to ask you this morning, "How are you going to stand before a Holy, Righteous and Just God?" It is a question every single person much address. Sadly however most of the world has created the own gods, gods of pleasure and materialism, gods which they can manipulate and control. But there is only one Jehovah-one Creator and Susutainer of the world-One Judge  who will judge the thoughts and actions of every person who has ever lived on the face of this earth.
2. Such An Important Answer:

The question may be important, but the answer is even more important.

Verse 2 begins the answer to the question by informing us that the one who dwells in God's presence is the one who walks uprightly, works righteously, and speaks the truth. To walk uprightly is to walk in obedience to God's revealed will, which flows out of a love and commitment toward God. To work righteously is to to do those things which are consistent whith the character of God, to have a godly life. To speak the truth is to speak the things which are in conformity with our walk and our work. All of our life is meant to be sanctified, ie to be holy and to continue to grow in holiness. A person's entire character and behaviour need to be thoroughly consistent with the character of God's character and nature as He has revealed it to us in His Word.

There would be many people who at this stage would be saying, "That's me." They could tick off the boxes and feel very pleased with themselves, but in case you feel the urge to join them to quickly, let me remind you that you can't be godly by your own efforts or your own good works. Your sinful nature prevents you from doing that, it prevents you from being in God's presence, it prevents you from knowing God, and it certainly prevents God knowing you because of His holiness and purity.
People don't like to hear this. They think that they can offer up to God what they like and God will have to accept them on that basis. Surely what I"ve done will be acceptable to God. I've try my best. But this however, is looking at the situation from a human perspective, it doesn't account for what God's perspective might be. It completely disregard the fact that God is Holy and pure in His Being and can't accept of tolerate our sinful nature. It disregards the fact  God's wrath burning against us because of our disobedience and rejection of Him. It completely fails to understand that no-one can obey God perfectly, to God's satisfaction. Romans 3:23 reminds us of this, "For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God."

How then can we possibly walk uprightly, work righteousness, and speak the truth? God is aware of this, He knows what we are. Only after He has changed us on the inside through the work of the Holy Spirit is it possible to begin to please Him. This work of the Holy Spirit is call regeneration, or being born again, being made new. This newness then enables us to accept the Gospel when we hear it, it enables us to express an evvangelical faith in Jesus Christ, to begin to live obediently to the will of God, to begin to live a more godly life.

In verses 3-5 the Psalmist gives more details on how to live more godly lives. The person who would enter God's presence resists gossip and slander, he does his neighbour no wrong.

V4. He despises God's enemies, and honours those who fear the Lord. God's character becomes the standard of his judgement. The Scripture reveal to us that we are all God's enemies because of our sinful nature and our sinfulness, but that in the Lord Jesus Christ we receive God's mercy and forgiveness and become God's friends.

The righteous keep their oaths or promises even when it hurts. It may hurt them financially, it cause them to be seriously inconvenience, even physical suffering. The righteous man or woman keeps their word; they have honour and integrity despite personal sufferings.
The righteous person refuses immoral gain in financial affairs.

verse 5 refers to "usury" it refers to the leadning of money or property at an exorbitantly high interest rate. Usury was prohibited in Israel because the person who normally borrowed money was in financial difficulty. Loans were usually secured by and oath or pledge and repaid interest-free.

The paslm end with the words. "The one who does these things will never be shaken."  It is referring to the one who is righteous, who lives in obedience to God's revealed will, whose total life is controlled  by the character of God. It includes right speech with our neighbours, It includes integrity in legal and financial matters, in how we handle money. Money is to honour God.

All of these things we see fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ whose life was perfectly free of sin. His perfect obedience to the revealed will of God is credited to you and to me when we come to faith in Him, when we come to trust in Him as our own person Lord and Saviour. The qualities the Psalmist is advocating here are inpossible for you to perfectly fuflfill, but by faith in Christ, God credits Christ's sinless life and obedience to you.

The world cares nothing for righteousness and integrity. David's question in verse 1 about who can enter into God's presence, who can dwell in His Taberncale on Mt Zion, is still just as important and as pressing a question  today as it was when it was first penned. We can see the answer  which follows is the prescription for life -abundant life in a persoan and intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ.

I hope and pray that you have such a relationship with Him and are experiencing this life. Amen

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