The Call to Godly Living
The Word: Psalm 15:1-5
Last Week: We explored the importance of a life lived for God—led by the Holy Spirit.
This Week: We will explore the truth that a relationship with God involves both a personal faith and ethical behavior.
To begin today’s session, I would like to ask the following questions:
When is the last time you took a test? Were you prepared for it or not?
What feelings were involved in taking a test you were ready to take as well as the feeling of being unprepared to take a test?
Today’s passage from Psalm 15 begins with a serious question: Who may dwell in the sacred tent (sanctuary) of the Lord? Thankfully, it’s an open-book test. The psalm then gives the answers to the question. Through living out the truths we find in the psalm, we too can pass the test.
A. Question (Read Psalm 15:1)
Note that the question is asked of God. Observe as well that the question is asked in two parallel phrases: "Who may dwell in your sacred tent?" "Who may live on your holy mountain?"
The NLT says: "Who may worship in your sanctuary?" "Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?"
One of parallelism’s advantages is that it allows us to better understand the words employed because the psalmist has provided a synonym: live is a synonym for dwell and holy mountain for sacred tent.
Verse 1 is a rhetorical reminder of the holiness of God. In a church culture that sometimes seems to turn God into a tame, domesticated “teddy bear” God, we would do well to remember this is the all-powerful, creator God who spoke the universe into existence, miraculously redeemed His people out of Egypt, and takes sin seriously.
In what ways do we sometimes try to tame God down in our personal lives and particularly in the worship of the church?
Why is it important for us to show respect and reverence for God? (For example, when people use terms like “the man upstairs” and “the big guy” they reduce and minimize the “Holy Otherness” of God.)
B. Answers (Read Psalm 15:2-5b)
The psalm begins to provide answers for the questions of verse 1. It is helpful to focus in on the action words found in these verses.
If we were in the classroom (I sure miss being there) I would ask you to either write them down or to underline them. But since we are not in the classroom I’ll do it for you. The action words from verses 2-3: walk, does, speaks, utters, does (again) and casts.
The action words from verses 4-5b: despises, honors, keeps, does not change, lends, and does not accept.
Is it possible to say we believe these things are true, and not live them out? How would such a hypocritical way of living stand up to the standard of holiness presented in verse 1?
What does it mean to live out these things, and not just believe in one’s mind they are true?
In v.2 we have the essence of the answer to the question asked in verse 1. Those who want to enjoy God’s presence must be people of integrity, righteous both in action and in words.
In v.3 the psalmist begins to elaborate, we see the emphasis on interpersonal relationships. Scripture is crystal clear; we cannot truly love God unless we love our neighbor (cf. 1 John 2:9-11; 4:19-21).
Verse 4 tells us that being righteous is not as difficult as being both righteous and charitable. This verse describes the person who maintains this balance, avoiding meanness on one side and moral laxness on the other. It is not easy to despise a vile person and still love them, as verse 3 implies (“casts no slur on others”).
The final verse focuses on money, the proper use of which is one of the best indicators of true righteousness. In verse 4, we saw that the righteous person didn’t put a price tag on integrity. Now, we see a picture of those who use things rather than people and value justice over profit.
Nor should money ever be used to pervert justice. Those who have the right to dwell with God demonstrate His commitment to justice and fairness.
C. The Promise (Read Psalm 15:5c)
The promise the faithful “will never be shaken” does not mean bad things will not happen. “It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45c) Bad things happen to godly people. What it means is that circumstances do not have the power to shake our relationship with the Lord, both personally and as the body of Christ. It means that the person of true piety, whose alliance is true, whose words are retrained, and whose dealings are righteous, will stand fast. Nothing can move him/her.
What are some instances where you have been shaken? How did living a godly life help you recover?
Believers use the language of having a personal relationship with God. This means we live each day with the awareness of God’s presence in our lives.
Psalm 15:1 (NLT) “Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?” The questions in this verse state a central concern: What kind of living prepares a person for godly living daily in the presence of God?
How are the questions in verse 1 answered in the rest of the psalm? (blameless walk, v. 2a; doing what is righteous, v. 2b; avoiding all slander, v. 2c; doing no wrong to your neighbor, v. 3b; casting no slur upon another person, v. 3c; avoiding one who is vile, and aligning ourselves with God, v. 4a; honoring those who fear the lord, v. 4b; keeping an oath, v. 4c; avoiding lending money at exorbitant interest that takes advantage of another, v. 5a, and avoiding any compromise of the truth by refusing to accept a bribe, v. 5b.)
D. Connect to My Life and the World
Godly living always has two components. There is the inner life of a faith commitment to God’s will, which is known only to the individual and God. The second is the external fruits of true righteousness which show integrity in human relationships.
Why are both components important in our spiritual walk with God?
This is a good time to take a little test.
Characteristics of a Life Acceptable to God.
Rate yourself from 1 to 5 (1 being “rarely” to 5 “consistently” on the following behaviors).
1. Is blameless 1 2 3 4 5
2. Is righteous 1 2 3 4 5
3. Is truthful 1 2 3 4 5
4. Controls his/her tongue 1 2 3 4 5
5. Despises sinful behavior 1 2 3 4 5
6. Honors those who fear God 1 2 3 4 5
7. Stands by his/her word 1 2 3 4 5
8. Generous to the poor 1 2 3 4 5
9. Refuses to exploit the vulnerable 1 2 3 4 5
Read Psalm 15 several times this week. As you read, pause after each verse for a moment of prayerful reflection.