By Mickey Mangun
Worshiping With Clean Hands and a Pure Heart
Much prayer and preparation brought me to this moment. Months prior I accepted the invitation to minister in song at this particular event. In ten minutes I was to be on the platform. I found a dim hallway, a small staircase, the secluded quiet place I needed for my moment alone with God.
At the bottom of the stairwell, as I began to pray and ask for His help, it was as if He said to me. “Seek my kingdom first; then I’ll give you …”
“God, right now I don’t want things; I want you to help me, to bless me. Help me remember the tune, the words; help me to be effective.”
He understood my need before I spoke it, but He wanted me to seek His face before I sought His hand.
As I began to climb the stairs, a whisper began in my soul. With each step I heard, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” (Psalm 24:3, NW). Those who are pure, holy, blameless, and righteous, and those who speak truth. It seemed that the Lord was running a checklist on me. Was I preparing myself for worship? Or just to sing?
The demand for consecration was a constant refrain in the Old Testament. God commanded His people to cleanse themselves from sin before they came into His presence. Each rule and regulation concerning the work and worship of God’s people both within the Tabernacle and within their everyday lives was prescribed so they could be holy in God’s sight.
Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy (Leviticus 20:7-8, NIV).
The call to worship is a call to consecration. God responds to people who have a deep hunger for Him. In the pursuit of success and excellence in our Christian service, we often leave the essential ingredient of hunger behind.
We are a spoiled people. Time and again we have witnessed mighty moves of God. We assume that He will always be in our midst. We tell ourselves, “It’s His church”; “He desires to live in the praises of His people”; “The glory of the Lord always fills the house”; “He is always present. I just need to show up where He is. Wrong!
It is not that easy. We are sincere, but we are sincerely wrong. Sincerity is no substitute for purity. If we want to meet with God, it requires much more of us than just showing up. God comes to those who meet His conditions. He does not come just because we want Him to come. He does not come because we are Apostolic Pentecostals or because we have done our work and practiced until it is perfect. We sometimes have the attitude that now it’s up to Him to consume the sacrifice and bless us. After all, aren’t we doing this for Him?
Often we believe God shows up to work for us just because we are the children of light. We say we are the true worshipers because we walk in truth. Yet, true worship requires more than just being His children and walking in truth.
On those steps that morning before I was to sing, I was engulfed by a desire for God to be glorified through me. Ws, God responds to our desire for Him. But our desire must be shown in ways that meet His standards. We must be holy as He is holy.
Psalm 15 poses this question: “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” The answer: “He whose walk is blameless … who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth … who does his neighbor no wrong casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man … honors those who fear the Lord … keeps his oath even when it hurts … lends his money without usury … does not accept a bribe against the innocent.” The promise is there: “He who does these things will never be shaken” (Psalm 15. NIV).
In Psalm 24 the question. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” is answered with, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart”.
God feels strongly enough about truth, honesty, and integrity to say. “No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence” (Psalm 101:7 NIV).
Clean hands. A pure heart. Truth. These are the distinguishing characteristics of the man or woman who may stand in God’s presence and offer gifts and sacrifices. The point I am making is that we do not enjoy God’s presence just because we ask for it. God wants honest, pure, and committed worshipers. These are His standards for those who would approach Him in worship.
Consequently, not just any praise will bring Him to us. Goose bumps and warm fuzzies will not do it. Neither will praise that is concerned more with what we can get from God than who He is. Our worship must have no ulterior motives. God is holy He is pure. He expects us to be holy, too. Honest worship requires integrity of heart and humility of spirit. We cannot fool God. He knows integrity He knows humility.
When pleasing Him is more important than voice control or vocal maneuvers, then we are in His presence. When what God thinks of us is more vital than what our peers or fellow laborers think, then we are in His presence. When cleanness of heart is more intriguing to us than how we are dressed, we are in His presence.
In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever (Psalm 41:12, NIV).
We must check ourselves when we come to God. We must make sure what we are saying and doing is in agreement with His Spirit and His Word. Otherwise, we are wasting our time and His, God comes only to those who are prepared to enter His presence. These are the people He permits to worship Him.
Article, “Permission Granted”, excerpted from “Pentecostal Herald”. Article written by Mickey Mangun.