The Goodness of an Alien Righteousness (Psalm 5:4-7)

Psalm 5:4-7 (ESV)

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;

evil may not dwell with you.

5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;

you hate all evildoers.

6 You destroy those who speak lies;

the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,

will enter your house.

I will bow down toward your holy temple

in the fear of you.

 

            How do you feel about the fact that God hates evil? Does this comfort you? It sounds right. We should like it, shouldn’t we? But, does it make us a bit uncomfortable too?

 

            Why would I suggest that words like the ones above might make me uncomfortable? It is not that I believe that there is anything wrong with God hating evil. There is not anything wrong with God hating evil-doers as the Bible states in verse 5. His judgment does not offend me. He is holy. He should judge.

 

            No, what makes me uncomfortable is the fact that I realize that I deserve to be on his hit list. I’m not good. Two of the character qualities of those abhorred by God in the above verses are liars and the boastful. I am quite certain that I have been both. God’s righteous hatred of evil, if left only to itself, would equal God’s righteous hatred of me.   

 

            Psalms like the portion above make me uncomfortable, because I am still not used to owning alien righteousness. What do I mean? In 2 Corinthians 5:21, God tells me that Christ places upon me a righteousness that is not my own. Because of his death and resurrection, I possess, no, according to the verse, I become the righteousness of God. That is an alien righteousness, a perfection foreign to me. It is brought to me from outside of me, not from my own character.

 

This is indeed a strange thing to think. I know the ugliness of my heart, at least as much as I can know it, yet God calls me righteous. I have earned the hatred of God as the psalm declares, yet God has chosen to give me love. I deserve hell. He gives me heaven. I’m not good. He calls me perfect. This is all because of the kindness of God and the powerful work of Jesus. I bring nothing to the table. Yes, I believed and, to the best of my ability, surrendered control of my life to Christ. Yet, even in that, it was the work of Christ that first moved me.

 

            Verse 7 points out that the psalmist, through the abundance of God’s steadfast love, will enter God’s house. This is likely pointing to the fact that David will enter a place of worship like the tent of meeting. But the truth is, for all who are in Christ, though we should be considered part of the wicked, God will bring us into his eternal house, his forever dwelling place.

 

            What does this do to my heart this morning? It humbles me. I remember my failings. I see what I deserve. I confess my sin again. And I at least try to remember that I do not deserve the goodness that I have been given. I’m certainly not better than others. I’m not good if that goodness is not the gift of God.

 

            I also find myself very grateful. God has given me a new label: perfect. I cannot imagine that being true of me. Yet, God will work as long as I live and to the point of my death in order to make it true of me. Eventually, when I die or Christ returns, I will be finally and irreversibly transformed to match the label of righteousness that God has placed upon me. I have hope, joy, comfort, and gratitude because of this fabulous truth.