Who Has Clean Hands and a Pure Heart?
In Psalm 24, the question is raised: “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” (vv. 3–4a). The requirement for ascending to the place of God in worship is that our hands are clean and our hearts purified. The question then becomes, “Who has clean hands and a pure heart?” Whose worship in thought, word, and deed does God find fully acceptable? Whose service is perfectly pleasing to God? The only One who has such hands and such a heart is Jesus our Lord. Appropriately, the Bible reminds us that He has ascended the holy hill. He has entered the holy place, not by the temporary washing of the blood of goats and calves (Heb. 9:12), but by His own blood. By entering in, He has made a way for you and me to enter in as well (Heb. 10:19). Does Jesus have clean hands? Yes, and so do all who have been washed in His blood. Is Jesus of a pure heart? Yes, and so are those who have been scrubbed by His blood. Through the blood of Christ, our hands and hearts have been cleared and cleansed. This means that, because of the blood of Christ, we are able to serve and worship God.
When Jesus freed the woman caught in adultery, He asked her: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, Lord.” Jesus then said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:10–11). When God has freed our consciences, it does not matter how others try to bind them. When Christ has washed our hands and hearts, it does not matter what other people say about them. We only must make sure that Christ has freed us, and that our consciences, hands, and hearts have indeed been washed in His blood.
Does Jesus have clean hands? Yes, and so do all who have been washed in His blood.
Nevertheless, we must remember that we do not cleanse our own consciences, hands, and hearts. This was the arrogance and condemnation of Pontius Pilate. He tried to wash his hands of the guilt of Christ. The Bible says, “So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood’” (Matt. 27:24). While the dirt may have been removed from his hands, his conscience could not be cleansed with water. Ironically, the blood that he tried to wash away was the only blood that could have made him clean. Contrast that with Paul, who said that he served and worshiped God with a “clear conscience” (2 Tim. 1:3). The difference is that Pilate proposed to wash the blood of Christ away from himself, while Paul knew himself to be washed in the blood of Christ.