As Christians, we can struggle to be in fellowship with God. We understand that salvation cannot be lost, but at the same time we self-sabotage ourselves from a more intimate fellowship with God. Have you ever wondered if the Bible has a practical answer guide to the question, “How do I have better fellowship in God’s presence”? In Psalm 15 David gives the ultimate answer of ‘who may’ have permission in the presence of the Lord (fellowship) through 10 godly habits. Psalm 15 is a Psalm of instruction for holiness and fellowship with the Lord. It is the ultimate Q&A between David and God. The Question of increased fellowship with God (Psalm 15:1) is answered by 10 principles of sanctification that characterized a life of godliness. Psalm 15 is very much like the book of James. Fruit is the evidence of faith. Increased fellowship in the presence of God is the result of bearing fruit in our integrity (habits 1-3), relationships (habits 4-7), and not being Selfish (habits 8-10). The culmination of Psalm 15 is a promise that is true today, ‘you will never be shaken’ out of the fellowship of the Lord. If you are struggling with increased fellowship in Christ, be characterized by these 10 principles of godliness.
- Walk blamelessly (Psalm 15:2a) – This is not talking about sinless perfection, which is impossible (Ephesians 4:13). One who walks blamelessly, implies living blamelessly with integrity, free of blemish, perfect, impeccable, complete. The godly do what God expects and their heart reflects that in their life conduct. Their conduct is not ‘un-becoming’ and there isn’t a secret life that would bring blame upon their walk as a Christian. Do you conduct yourself with integrity?
- Work Righteously (Psalm 15:2b) – This means doing acts of righteousness. As discussed in Psalm 1:5, we seek moral and ethical works according to God’s standard and will. We seek conformity to the standard of God. Our service, good works, and occupation should all be done correctly and right before God. Is your work done righteously for God?
- Speak truth (Psalm 15:2c) – Telling the truth is not always easy, but we are motivated by the word ‘truth’ (amen in Hebrew), which is what we say when we agree with a statement that is firm, trustworthy, stands the test of time, and is always constant. Our speech is to be in agreement to God. It is the opposite of Satan who speaks lies. God expects His people to be characterized by truth in the speech. Let your yes be yes, and no be no. David also contributes speaking to a heart condition, ‘speak truth sincerely in their heart’. Sincerely in the heart implies the authentic intent of what was said, whereas lips are just the vehicle for our intention. Is your speech consistent and authentically from God?
- Don’t Slander (Psalm 15:3a) – He does not slander with his tongue (speech). Slander implies gossip or speaking in a way that is misguiding. Christians are not to directly talk against others. Misdirecting information about others is harmful and is not characteristic of godliness. David had in mind the idea of playing the spy with a wicked malice of intent. We see this concept in Lev 19:16 “You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord”. Speaking gossip is to behave as spies for Satan. Do you need to confess your sin of slander?
- Don’t do Evil to Neighbors (Psalm 15:3b) – Don’t do evil to our neighbors. Evil is described as wickedness, depravity, misery, distress, and injury to another purposefully. In David’s day this meant to not harm anyone on purpose who was nearby or that he would encounter on a journey. As Christians, we must think about how we act with our neighbors, whether it be their leaves in our yard, or honking our horn in the car; in whatever we do make sure your intent is peace and not evil. Do you need to confess your evil intent towards neighbors?
- Don’t Reproach Friends (Psalm 15:3c) – Reproaching a friend is to disgrace them or bring shame upon their life. It could be a sharp criticism, constant ridiculing, or even actions that intend to promote one’s self over your intimate friendships. Instead, Christians must treat their Christin relationships like they are bound together in brotherhood, not heinous actions towards one another. Do you need to confess a past reproach, criticism, or ridicule of a friend?
- Respect & Honor God-fearing people (Psalm 15:4a) – Psalm 154a says that we despise a reprobate, who is a reject of God, but honor one who fears the Lord. The Lord condemns those who despise what he loves. God loves those who fear him and his ways reverently. Christians are to honor God-fearing people through devotion and commitment. If Christians seek respect from ‘rejects’, we will seek unbiblical remedies for Church and life. Reprobates reject God’s objective truth (Scripture) and ultimately despise God, taunt Christians, and threat God’s work at every corner. Psalm 15:4a prefaces this instruction with ‘in whose eyes a reprobate is despised.’ Perhaps you have heard of the term ‘woke’ in today’s media. The world (reprobates) wants us to be woke (i.e. in our eyes) to their subjective truth. However, Christians are to despise subjective truth and its application to life (i.e. abortion, CRT, equality act). Christians must respect God’s will, and should despise any societal attempt to distort God-fearing foundational truths. The second statement ‘but who honors those who fear the Lord’ conveys the contrast between rejecting the despised and honoring those who fear the Lord. Honoring God-fearers means discerning between those who are spiritual and not. Contrary to pop culture, who idolizes the wicked things of the world, we despise them and like those who fear God. Do you respect and honor God-fearing people?
- Keep Your Word (Psalm 15:4b) – Habits 8-10 can be summed up as ‘people before money, because God is in control of money’ (i.e. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5). A Christian should be characterized by swearing an oath to the point that you would bring harm upon yourself before you hurt others. It is better to be personally offended than to offend someone else by not keeping your word in a promise. We often promise many things, but one who has fellowship with God must follow them through with each promise. Whether you pledging money to help the Church, volunteering, praying, serving, making a promise to attend a birthday party…do what you say and don’t change your mind. Do you keep your word?
- Don’t Loan Money at Interest (Psalm 15:5a) – Interest is for personal gain. Charging interest is selfish, and based upon the institution of banks, but something Christians are commanded to not do to one another. Jesus even cleaned out the temple in John 2:13-22 because of the ‘money changers’ who sold sacrificial animals on interest. As a Christian, we falsely represent our worship when we take advantage of the needy. Do you loan money at interest for personal gain?
- Don’t Bribe the Innocent (Psalm 15:5b) – A bribe is a gift you give to another person to gain something later on. A bribe is putting your own interest above others and you are even willing to pay for it. Bribing the innocent implies the blameless or those who are trying to do their job with integrity. Whether you bribe a Judge for a decision, a policeman for a ticket, a boss for a promotion, a contractor for work, or even intent to give someone help for the sake of personal favor, you are not operating in godliness. Do you need to confess bribing the innocent?
To Conclude: A Promise
Christians are given a wonderful promise as a result of seeking a habitual life based upon the 10 principles in Psalm 15; which is to never be shaken (Psalm 15:5c). He who does these things will never be shaken. Shaken is the idea of being moved away from the Lord’s presence (fellowship or communion). He who does these 10 habits will be able to abide in the presence of God. Why rob ourselves of increased fellowship with God? Please pray through these 10 applications and begin the process of sanctification to increase your communion with god.
David J. Lupinetti is the Associate Pastor at Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church in Michigan. He has a passion for Expository Preaching, Biblical Counseling, Discipleship, and Evangelism.