“The one with blameless hands and a clean heart,
who does not lift his soul to what is worthless;
he does not swear to fraud.”
The righteousness of our God cannot abide by the presence of sin and deceit; how then will God accept our representative, the one who goes up into the presence of the Lord in our place, if he is covered by the filth of his own sin? In the ancient times, the high priest did go up to offer sacrifice on behalf of his people, but the purification rituals that he had to undergo before he could enter into the presence of God were overwhelmingly detailed and strict. Why is this? It is simply because no matter how righteously he sought to live, he could still never hope to fulfill the law of God. His own righteousness was as filthy rags before the Lord.
While David and the people looked for the priests to fulfill their role as mediator for the people, and as righteous living was marked as the goal of every true Israelite, it is still clear from the last four verses of this psalm that David has his heart set on one who would provide a greater fulfillment of this role. Who will go up for us! Oh, David cries! And the answer is the one whose life is pure, his hands are without blame and his heart is clean from sin—and this is just not something that can be done by a man born in sin—that is something that must be accomplished by God himself. Who is the one who will go up into the sanctuary of the Lord? It is the Lord himself, the King of glory—he will go in!
Sometimes people ask the question of why we need to hold onto the doctrine of Christ’s dual nature, that he is fully God and fully man. Were Christ not fully God, he could never have gone up for us. Were Christ not fully God, he would have been tarnished by sin, both original and actual, and his sacrifice would have been no more lasting than that of the high priest. The Passover lamb must be one without blemish (Exodus 12:5), and oh, how wretched is the righteousness of men (Romans 3:10-18). Thus, Christ, our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) had to be God, or else all would be a loss. Yet, were he not also fully man, he could not have identified with us as our mediator or die on the cross as our sacrifice, again, all would be a loss. If he did not take on our complete humanity, he could not have redeemed our complete humanity, and all would be a loss! This doctrine is essential to the Christian faith, and if you deny either of these aspects of Christ’s person, then you are of the antichrist (1 John 2:22-23; 4:2-3). You can call yourself a lot of things, but if you deny that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, and both at the same time, the one thing that you cannot call yourself is Christian.
Beloved, do not be swayed in your trust in Christ as your mediator, it is only he who has gone into the Lord’s presence and sat down at God’s right hand of power (Hebrews 1:3) to make intercession for our sins (Hebrews 7:25). There are many others who would call you to follow them, yet to where will they lead? Only Christ takes his chosen with him into the temple—into the presence of God; all others can lead only to the very gates of hell. Stand firm in your faith and He who is able to do all things will lead you into the glorious presence of his father with shouts of joy and great thanksgiving—oh, who is this King of Glory? It is none but the Lord, Jesus Christ! It is Christ that leads the way into the holy temple of God!
Blow ye the trumpet, blow!
The gladly solemn sound
Let all the nations know,
To earth’s remotest bound:
The year of jubilee is come;
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home;
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.