“So give us clean hands and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another.”
~ Chris Tomlin
In Psalms 24, King David writes, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place. He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false.”
What does the Bible mean when it refers to “what is false”? Well, the Greek translation actually means “to vanity”. The connotation refers to false gods, or idolatry. So who will ascend the hill of the Lord? He who has clean hands, a pure heart, and one who does not lift up his soul (mind, emotions, and will) to idols.
Next question…what are idols? Are they physical images made of wood, metal, or clay that represent deities? They can be. They can also be activities, ideas, institutions, people, places, desires, dreams, feelings, belief systems’ or anything else that sits in a higher place of influence in your soul (mind, heart, and will) than God.
Anything that motivates, inspires, comforts, consoles, or influences us more than God himself can be an idol. For example, if the Holy Spirit or the Word of God tells us to do something and we choose to do something else – whatever reason we chose that “something else” – is an idol. That means an idol can even be fear or even a sense of obligation to another person. How do we know it’s an idol? We know it’s an idol when it causes us to disobey God.
I heard a pastor preach one time about a couple who came to visit America from India, where many deities are worshipped openly. Their comment about America? They were surprised and appalled at all our idol worship. Everywhere they went they saw incredible wealth, time, and resources being dedicated to the idols of sports (immense stadiums where people go to worship their favorite sports teams), materialism (vast and opulent shopping malls where people go to worship their favorite designers and brands), and televisions/movie theaters (where people go to worship celebrities or their gods of entertainment). Meanwhile, there are still homeless people standing on the streets and whole neighborhoods stuck in the grips of poverty.
How easily we become accustomed to our own culture’s form of vanity and lifting up that which is false. Some even defend it while claiming to be Christians. This shouldn’t be so – not for us. Like David, may we be of pure and holy heart – seeking only the One who has the power to save.
Lord, we ask your forgiveness over the idolatry and false gods we have lifted our souls to. We ask for open eyes and humble hearts to repent and replace every false god with the One True God so that we may have clean hands and pure hearts before you. Lord, we say that you are the only God we need and ask for your strength to clean out our lives of all that is false. May we trust you alone, worship you alone, seek after you alone, and follow you alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.