The president of the Philippines had recently ordered thousands of presidential appointees to vacate their positions due to continuing bureaucratic red tape and unbridled corruption in government in spite of his previous order. Many of our citizens (and netizens) clamor for a corrupt-free government marked by honesty and integrity, one of the reasons why the current president won by a landslide margin because he spoke strongly on these issues.
Psalm 15 provides an excellent recipe for a corrupt-free government. The Message, a paraphrased translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson, does a very good job simplifying this particular psalm. Here's a portion of it.
"Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe."
Now that's a great word for people in government written thousands of years ago!
But the great paradox of moral uprightness is how can individuals have the power and ability to walk straight, act right, and tell the truth without a moral or spiritual center as their guide? There has to be a moral frame of reference by which individuals must base their actions from and have a rationale for them.
Can a person act good even without having a relationship with God? Yes, either by godly influences or a natural sense of morality. The fact is we are created in the image and likeness of God who reflects His character of goodness. But this character of God in us has been marred by sin. That's why in the previous psalm, Psalm 14, it is stated that, "There is no one that does good, no, not one." Even the best human good that we can offer will never measure up. Reason why such a religious man like Nicodemus and the rich young man who claimed to be morally upright were told by Jesus to believe and completely put their trust in Him.
How then can we "abide in His tabernacle and dwell in His holy hill" as fallen individuals? The answer is in the cross of Jesus. All of us are in need of redemption because it is only through the impartation of Christ's life, His righteousness in us that we can abide and dwell in Him. Psalm 15 shows the fruit of that righteousness which empowers us by His grace to walk straight, act right, and tell the truth.
Ravi Zacharias, a well known Christian apologist, once remarked that there is a logical, chronological sequence to being right with God. They are redemption, righteousness, and worship. The order cannot be altered. We have to experience redemption first in order to receive God's righteousness so that we can worship acceptably.
Psalm 15 ends with a great promise: "He who does these things shall never be moved." A person who has the life of Christ in Him and living in His power will be strong and unshakeable.