By Henry Law
Here is a beautiful picture of the holy man. Holy Spirit, mold us into this blessed form!
1. "Lord, who shall abide in Your tabernacle? who shall dwell in Your holy hill?"
Profession is not always real. Many may cry, "Lord, Lord," who shall at last be outcasts. Hence it is all-momentous to escape deception, and to know assuredly our state. Here is the question put. Here is the answer given. He who alone reads well the heart, He who discerns the wheat from chaff, hears the appeal and gives reply. Who then maintains communion with the Lord, who talks with God upon His mercy-seat, who shall forever dwell with Him in the new heavens and the new earth, who shall receive the welcome, "Come, you blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world?" Who will be Zion's inhabitants when the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and shall be their God?
The reply forbids mistake. God's people are all righteous. Holiness is written on their brow. Holiness pervades their heart. Holiness directs their steps, supplies their words, and is the very essence of their being. They are newborn by the Spirit's power. The divine nature is implanted. Let not, however, this decisive test mislead. Our holiness presents no title at God's bar; it blots out no sin; it pays no debt; it arrests not condemnation; it weaves no justifying robe; it presents no shadow of a claim. Christ, and Christ only, justifies; His blood alone can cleanse from sin; His death alone appeases wrath. His pure obedience, placed to our account, is the only robe for heaven. Holiness is not our title, but it is assuredly our character. It is the evidence before God and man that we are really Christ's. It is the test of union with the Lord; it is the proof that we are one with Him. By faith we have an interest in Christ and all Christ's work. By works we prove that the gift of faith has been received. With earnest prayer that godliness may be our element of life and fitness for the new Jerusalem, let us now ponder the beautiful portrait drawn by the Spirit's hand.
2. "He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart."
His walk is upright. His ear drinks in the mighty mandate, "Walk before Me, and be perfect." A constant effort restrains from devious ways. His delight is in the study of God's holy law, and his whole life demonstrates his effort to obey. His heart is sincere, and his lips give proof. Pure is the inward fountain, and pure the flowing stream.
3. "He who back-bites not with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor."
His tongue is strictly bridled. He hates the vile defaming which bespatters his neighbor's name. No injury to person or to credit proceeds from him. If evil whispers are addressed to him, they find a check. He propagates no scandal. His charity will cover sins however many.
4. "In whose eyes a vile person is condemned; but he honors those who fear the Lord. He who swears to his own hurt, and changes not."
His estimate of men rests not on outward show. Where he sees signs of gracelessness he withholds respect, although riches and honor and the world's applause exalt the man. But true respect is given where God is feared. He holds that godliness is honor. His conscience swerves not from a pledge because performance may give trouble. Truthfulness, not self-interest, is his rule.
5. "He who puts not out his money to usury, nor takes reward against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved."
He knows that the love of money is the fruitful source of all evil. Therefore he never strives to gain by others' need. He shuns extortion. No bribe can tempt him to overreaching acts. Such are the principles which sway his heart. Such prove that he is Christ's, ruled by His law, moved by His love, treading in His paths, seeking His glory. And he shall not be moved. Amid the wreck of worlds, he is secure in Christ his Ark. He will stand when the white throne is set. His dwelling will be firm in realms of everlasting day. But who can try himself by this strict rule, and not be conscious of shortcoming? Who will not smite upon the breast and cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner"? Again, we bear in mind this righteousness is not our plea. If it were so we fail. It is our evidence, and though imperfect, it is true. Its imperfection drives us more to cling to Christ. He and He only is the essence of righteousness. All righteousness He fully wrought. He casts His glorious covering over all our failings. In Him we are completely justified. In Him we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. O God, we thank You for Christ Jesus.