In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes the dilemma that all people face. “Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it.”
This dilemma is apparent in this passage. The only people who can stand in God’s presence and worship Him are those with pure hands and hearts. But no one is pure, so no one can stand in God’s presence. Thankfully, God has offered us a solution to the problem since we have no way to solve it. Lewis goes on to say, “The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person . . .”
Before I can worship properly I need my Savior to put me in right relationship with God.
Now that I’ve established that, I can look at the requirements for worship. My hands are about what I do and my heart is about what I love. My actions and attitudes.
What I love (what motivates me) and what I do (how I act) must be pure.
Dictionary.com defines Pure as being “free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter; free from foreign or inappropriate elements; clear; free from blemishes.”
The greatest commandment is to love God with all my being and to love my neighbor as much as I love myself. If I want my love to be pure I have to put God and my neighbor before myself. Pure love is unselfish love; it’s loving the way God loves.
And pure actions should flow from pure love. As John said in his first letter (v. 18)
"Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions."
So I must love God first, other people next and myself last. And if I do, it’ll determine how I live. Then I’ll have a right relationship with God my savior and I’ll be able to stand in His presence to worship Him. (I love the way God works in a circular fashion to resolve the human dilemma.)