We’re reading Psalm 15 today and Marina has provided the notes.
When he finished writing this Psalm the writer must have put down his pen and felt despair! I assume he wasn’t blameless, as we saw earlier in the week ‘There is no one righteous….. Even our righteous acts are like filthy rags’ and therefore he must have realised that he falls far short of the standard set in his own Psalm. However, the psalmist understood the standard expected by a holy God and he didn’t try to water them down or make allowances for any difficult areas in his own life.
This view of a holy God is quite different from the view of God many people have today. He is seen by many as a type of Father Christmas or kindly old man who, because he loves us, just pats us on the head and smiles indulgently when we sin. Of course this could not be further from the truth. God is rightly angry with sin. Sin spoils his children and a loving God wants to protect those he loves from the destructive forces of sin that would seek to destroy. But a holy God cannot look at our sin and as sinful people we have no way of living the blameless life set out in the Psalm.
Every one of us faces the same problem. There is a gulf between a holy God and sinful man and in our own strength we have no way of crossing it. I am reminded about the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee praying at the temple. The Pharisee was full of self- importance and reminded God about all the good things he did. In contrast the tax collector realised his sinful state and understood that he was unworthy to stand before God. The tax collector did the only thing he could; he asked God for mercy.
It’s God’s mercy that makes reading this Psalm, without despair, possible. When we read the list of qualifications for living in God’s sanctuary we see that Jesus meets them all. Jesus lived a perfect life and he lived a sinless life, everything he did pleased God. Yet he was willing to die on a cross for each one of us, taking our sin on himself in order to bridge the gulf. We can come to God no other way. We cannot earn this mercy and we cannot live the life set out in the Psalm. But we too can ask God for mercy and know the forgiveness of God through the sacrifice of Jesus.
“For God so loved the world He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)