“Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless…” (Psalm 15:1-2a, NIV).
“You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins” (Psalm 85:2, NIV).
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:5, 12 NIV).
I’ve been trying out a new quiet time Bible reading method, one that has a reading from the Psalms and something from both the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes when I tackle too much during my quiet time, I find myself distracted by the amount of text I have to read, and it’s harder to be quiet and meditate on a single verse or phrase. Other times I find it helpful to look at several passages in conjunction with one another and listen for an overarching theme or message God is speaking through each.
When I read the two Psalms and Colossians, I noticed how well they fit together. Psalm 15 asks the all-important question: who may dwell with the Lord? And the answer doesn’t give us much hope: “The one whose walk is blameless.” Reading through the rest of Psalm 15, I realized that no one can live up to what it describes. So in reality, Psalm 15’s answer to the question of who can dwell with the Lord is no one.
That’s why Psalm 85 is so profound. Rather than condemn us to a life of slavery in sin and an eternity separated from his love, God forgave our iniquity and covered our sins. This he did through Jesus’ death and resurrection. God knew that the answer to Psalm 15’s question was no one, and that why he sent Someone, his Son, to rescue us. Because of Jesus, the answer has changed to those who’ve been forgiven in Christ.
Then, Colossians 3 lands on the scene. Because of what Jesus has done for us, in response to his forgiveness and mercy, we are called to lead blameless lives–to put our sin to death and clothe ourselves as children of God. It’s important to get the order right here. It’s not live a blameless life so that God will accept you and allow you to dwell in his house. It’s live a blameless life because God has already acceptedyou, forgiven you, and given you a place in his house. We’re still called to live a righteous and holy life, but the difference between Psalm 15 and Colossians 3 is that Jesus has finished the forgiveness of Psalm 85.
Because Jesus sets us free from the penalty and the power of sin, we can actually begin to live the life described in Psalm 15. Will we do it perfectly all the time? Not a chance. We still live with the presence of sin. But someday Christ will return and eliminate even that!
My prayer for the week is that Jesus will come soon, and, while we wait, that he will give us the strength to be who we are in him.