Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
The season of Advent is a time of preparation. In our Psalm for this week, Psalm 24, we are asked who could go up to the hill of the Lord. Only the one who is pure in heart, with clean hands. The righteous go up to the Lord, no unrighteous need apply.
Christians can be moved either to self-righteousness or despair by this idea. How will I approach the Lord? With clean hands and a pure heart. One of our natural conclusions is that we are impure. We sin against God in grievous ways. We have not kept His commands. We have sinned in what we have done and in what we have left undone. We run into exactly the same problem in 1 John, especially in chapter two, where we are told that the Christian walks as Christ walked, that we love our brothers perfectly, and that we don’t love the things of the world. In these things we stand condemned. What hope is there?
Perhaps then we turn to the other end of the spectrum. God has received me, therefore I am able to ascend the hill of the Lord. It doesn’t matter what I do. All is well. God loves sinners. I love to sin. It’s a great arrangement! But that falls short as well. Deep in my heart I realize that I have fallen short of God’s commands. That won’t work either.
What’s the solution? Who ascends to the mountain of the Lord? Jesus, the Christ, who has clean hands and a pure heart. He is the one who is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of God the Father. What good does this do for me? It does the same good for me that we read about in 1 John. In chapter one of 1 John we are told that as we confess our sins we are cleansed, completely, entirely, from all sin and evil. In the perfect righteousness of Christ, then, not in our own righteousness, which is sinful and corrupt, we approach God. We are brought to His holiness through faith in Christ. For this reason, and this reason alone, we receive the blessing God has promised to His people. It is about Jesus’ righteousness on our behalf, imputed to us. This is our hope and our joy. Therefore we are brought up the mountain of the Lord, dressed in Christ’s righteousness, to the glory of His holy name. Thanks be to God.
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