Summary: This sermon deals with the character of the citizen's of the kingdom of Heaven.
Grant Avenue Baptist Church
2215 Grant Avenue
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Pastor David Wilson Cell Phone: 310-213-4586
COMFORTABLE IN GOD’S PRESENCE
TEXT: Psalm 15
We’ve been dealing with godly character traits for some time now. In our series on the Sermon on the Mount we discovered that the Beatitudes describe the character of godly people and the practices that Jesus taught in the remainder of the Sermon on the Mount were to grow out of those character traits. God is greatly concerned with the attitudes of the heart.
While attending a conference on Saturday I heard a great sermon illustration from Dr. Calvin Wittman, who pastors a growing church in Colorado. He described his wife and daughter viewing a classic film on Television. The film was one of those musicals that he termed a “chick flick.” He told how they came to a scene where the classic “Puttin’ on the Ritz” was performed. He said for a few minutes he was shaking his head in disbelief because in his memory it was Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle doing this routine and Peter Boyle was made up like Frankenstein. He was, of course, referring to a Young Frankenstein, a film by Mel Brooks that was a total parody of classic horror films, but included this one musical number. Of course, to those seeing the real thing after seeing the parody version was very, very strange. The point he quickly made was that in America today—more people have seen a parody of Christianity than the real thing.
Psalm 15 describes part of the real thing. It describes what God’s people are really supposed to be like.
First, the Psalmist asks a question.
“LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?”
I’d like to paraphrase the question—“Lord, who gets to live in your presence? Lord, who is comfortable being with you?”
Now, that paraphrase may miss the mark a bit because it puts my own interpretation on it! The Psalmist may be asking instead, “Who is good enough to live with you?” Of course, the Biblical answer would be nobody, outside of Christ.
I don’t think this is so much a question of qualification for dwelling with God as the character of those who get to dwell with God. In other words, since the Psalmist is going to take the time to describe the character of God’s people- I believe he is saying that it is important to develop this type of character.
“He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart”
To have a blameless walk is not to be perfect. It is to live a life where no charges of wrong can be properly attributed to you. For example, Daniel lived a life of such integrity and lack of compromise that when the king’s other officials started their investigation they could find nothing. He was blameless. So they had to create a new law that they knew would get him because it was related to his spiritual walk.
The second part of this verse is about doing that which is right. I wish that I could honestly declare that I always do that which is right, but the truth is that I don’t. The principle that I find in my life is that when I do what is right my fellowship with God is wonderful. When I don’t do the right thing fellowship with God is impaired. Doing what is righteous doesn’t mean walking around with a holier-than-thou attitude. It means dealing with life’s circumstances in a right response. It means choosing right living over evil. While it sounds easy in principle, in practice it is really quite difficult. It means choosing a non-wrathful response towards those who drive like idiots around you. It means being kind when others are cruel. It means being honest even when the truth is embarrassing. It means choosing that which is right. Please note- it is indeed a choice.
The third part of verse two is about speaking truth. God’s people must be honest. Honesty is hard sometimes. I’m talking about not protecting yourself with some story. Not inflating your importance in a story. Not exaggerating your accomplishments. I’m talking about being open and honest. I wish more pastors were honest from the pulpit about their shortcomings. Honesty means admitting where we are struggling or falling short. But note that we are not talking about being forced to be honest—but we are speaking of an honesty that comes from the heart. It comes naturally.
I am grateful that God has allowed me to earn a reputation for honesty and integrity. I wholeheartedly appreciated the pastor friend (and former employer) who called me and told me of a conversation he had with a worker’s compensation insurance adjustor regarding me. The adjustor was working on a final settlement to offer to me. However, he knew I was scheduled to testify in another case where another employee had created a fraudulent claim. He expressed concern to my pastor friend about how I would testify if I was dissatisfied with the settlement the company was offering to me. My pastor friend tempted me to pride when he told me what he had told the adjustor, “Even if you never give Mr. Wilson one cent, he will come in and tell the truth, no matter what.” He went on to express his pleasure in being able to tell the adjustor and further expressed his appreciation that I was always honest in every situation, even when it hurt.