Read it on it’s own and it comes across as works salvation. Chew on it apart from the rest of the feast offered up by the whole counsel of God in His word, and you’d conclude that God extends divine favor based on human merit. But believe Jesus when He says that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3), and you know Psalm 15 can only be sung to the tune of “I will show you my faith by my works” or, “faith apart from works is dead” (Ja. 2:18, 26). That’s why I’m wondering this morning if Psalm 15 may have been James’ favorite psalm.
O LORD, who shall sojourn in Your tent? Who shall dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart . . . He who does these things shall never be moved.
(Psalm 15:1-2, 5b ESV)
Sometimes I read and am so thankful I can rest in grace, knowing that if my place in the Book of Life were dependent on maintaining a constant standard of righteous deeds, I’d be done. But other times, like this morning, I savor the reminder that the fruit of the gospel is righteousness. Not just righteousness imputed by Christ — which it is, it so is, praise God — but also righteousness imparted by me, as the righteousness in me through Christ pours out as the righteousness (not the perfection) of Christ flows from me. Saved by grace alone through faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9), yet “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in” (Eph. 2:10).
So what do some of those good works look like? Who gets “invited to dinner” (MSG) at God’s place? Who are those who enter His presence on His holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart . . .
What does it look like to do what is right?
Well, David’s sampler list (by no means a complete catalog) includes taming the tongue and abstaining from slander. It entails purposing to love one’s neighbor and do him no evil and resolves not to get involved in backbiting one’s friend. He who walks blamelessly not only does what is right, he also stands for what is right. He holds in contempt those who persistently and habitually engage in evil, and he gives great weight and honor to those who faithfully follow the LORD.
What’s more, those with truth in their heart will keep their promises even when it costs them dearly. They will gladly lend money without interest to brothers and sisters who are in need. They refuse to be comprised by a bribe when it comes to standing for the innocent. In a sentence, the righteous man, the righteous woman, will be marked by doing the righteous thing.
And the promised reward for such behavior is unambiguous:
He who does these things shall never be moved.
They stand firm in their faith because the fruit of their faith testifies to the reality of their faith.
Yeah, sometimes I just like to rest in grace. But other times, I’m inspired to live out grace.
Even, perhaps, with a song on my lips. A favorite song, I’m thinking, of James.
Only by God’s grace. Only for God’s glory.