Clean Hands and a Pure Heart (Psalm 24:3–4) - Radical

Clean Hands and a Pure Heart (Psalm 24:3–4)

 “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully.”
– Psalm 24:3–4

I heard an illustration once that I’m reminded of in this verse. Ignaz Semmelweis was born in 1818 into a world of dying women, so one in every six women were dying in childbirth and he became a doctor. He wanted to find out why all these women were dying. He started to study and found something today that we would think is appalling.

They didn’t understand germs in that time so doctors would go from morgues were they would prepare dead bodies for burial directly into the birthing rooms to deliver babies, and they started to experiment with a chlorine situation. They would just wash their hands and they would go from the morgue to the birthing room and they dropped the death rate in their area from one in six to one in fifty.

So he’d found a cure. All you have to do is wash your hands, but people around him didn’t believe him and he was speaking to a convention to his colleagues one time. He said, and I quote, “This fever is caused by decomposed material conveyed to a womb. I’ve shown how it can be prevented, I’ve proven all I’ve said, but while we talk, talk, gentlemen, women are dying. I’m not asking you to do anything world-shaking. I’m only asking you to wash. For god sake, wash your hands.”

Psalm 24:3–4 Shows Us How to Reach God

None of us can stand before God on our own merit. In Christ, we can ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place.

I think about this picture in Psalm Chapter 22, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Who has clean hands?” I guess I would just ask you the question as we meditate on this verse, are your hands clean before God? I would encourage you to examine your heart. What is not clean in your life before God and your thought life and your desires and your words and your actions, where have you grown content with uncleanness? Where have you grown complacent with sin, thinking it’s no big deal? Maybe it’s small.

Oh, hear this verse in Psalm 24. The only way we can be before God is with clean hands and a pure heart. Now obviously that’s not possible in and of ourselves. We need Jesus to clean our hands and to purify our hearts. We need his death on the cross as a covering for our sin, but then the picture, once we placed our faith in Christ is that we walk in holiness, we walk with clean hands and whenever we dirty our hands in sin in all kinds of different ways, then we come before God and we ask him for grace to cover over our sins. So, we ask for his forgiveness, we confess those sins, we ask him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and we need this every day before God.

This Verse Calls Us to Examine Our Hearts

We need an examination of our hearts, confession of sin and then receiving of cleansing grace from God so I want to encourage you. I hope this is a part of your daily pattern to examine your heart and confess sin before God and not just daily but during the day, the same time, I want to encourage you if for some reason you are not regularly confessing sin or it’s been a while since you really did a deep clean so to speak in your own heart and just asked God to uncover areas of your heart and life that are not clean.

Psalm 24:3–4 Urges Us to Spend Time Repenting  

I want to encourage you to do that. Spend time in concentrated confession and repentance, and in the process, enter into a greater intimacy with God in his presence. Oh God, who may stand in your holy place? Surely not one of us on our own merit. The only way we can come before you is based on the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for our sins so we come to you by his shed blood and we praise you for saving us from our sins. At the same time, we confess that we’re still prone to sin.

So God, examine our hearts now. Help us to see any and everything that is not clean and pure and holy in us. Anything that we are doing that goes against your word or anything we’re not doing that we should be doing according to your word, God, please, cleanse us by your grace so that we might experience the fullness of your presence. Make us a people of continual confession and repentance and receiving of your mercy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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