Clean Hands and A Pure Heart

Clean Hands and A Pure Heart

In his talk 'Keeping the Temple Holy,' President Hinckley urged us to 'Keep His house holy!'1  He explained in quite some details the questions we have to answer when we go through temple recommend interviews. These questions, in a way, are the standards we have to meet when we want to go to the House of the Lord. We must prove worthy and obey the commandments before we can enter the House of the Lord.

                Yet, another set of high standards for us to strive for to enter into the House of the Lord was proclaimed by King David when he declared: 'Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob.' 2

                Here King David set forth several standards for those who seek to ‘ascend into the hill of the Lord’ and to ‘stand in His holy place’, i.e. seek to enter the Lord’s temple:

First, we must have clean hands.

We learn from James that, '...Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; ....' 3 This clearly indicates to us that to have clean hands, we have to repent of our sins and have our hands made clean before we can enter into the House of the Lord.

Nephi further illustrated that this cleansing process is only made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and only through Him can we be saved from our sins. He taught: 'And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.' 4

Therefore, only those who repent of their sins and who come unto Christ with ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit’ will be accepted into the House of the Lord.

Second, we need to have a pure heart.

James further taught '...and purify your hearts, ye double minded';5 and also 'But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.' 6 Therefore, unless we are pure in heart, and not waiver in our faith, we shall not receive anything of the Lord. These verses also clarify that to have a pure heart means we are to purify our heart and single our eye and mind to the glory of God.

The Lord also warned us of not being double minded when he taught, 'No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.' 7 

Satan knows our weakness well and has waged war on us with temptations of this world to drag us away from the straight and narrow path. He assaults us not only with evil or immoral things, but often times with seemingly good and worthy things that we may be pacified and lulled away into carnal security; 8 or, with a sense of doing good and righteous things when we only have time to do the better or the best things in life that have impact on our eternal well-being. He assaults us with cool and fancy modern technologies; seemingly meaningful and interesting data, information, and knowledge; even with healthy entertainment, outdoor activities, fine dining and hobbies. These seemingly good and harmless things in life can easily consume our time, energy, resources and passion so he can 'leadeth us by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth us with his strong cords forever.' 9

Third, we are not to ‘lift up (our) soul unto vanity’.

Even our Savior was tempted with the vanity of this world after he had fasted forty days when the devil offered him all kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. 10 The devil knows how vulnerable we can be when it comes to the glory of the world: wealth, power and fame. Time and again, we are warned not to covet the treasures of this world:

'But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also. 11

'For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.' 12

Fourth, we are not to swear deceitfully.

This means we should not lie or bear false witness or make false promises or commitments we cannot or do not intend to keep. This particularly means we should not make covenants in the House of the Lord and not live up to what we have covenanted to do therein.

It is relatively easy to make covenants with God in the House of the Lord. Yet, without dedicated effort and firm commitment, it is rather difficult to fulfill our duties or things we have promised to do after we make the covenants. The Lord cannot bless us if we do not fulfill our part of the obligation in the covenant. But once we have fulfilled our part, the Lord is bound to bless us: 'I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.' 13

Once we can meet the high standards set forth by King David, we shall, as promised, receive blessings from the Lord and the righteousness of His salvation. 14

We can become as one of those mentioned in the Book of Revelation: ' And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.' 15

Then we shall be recognized by our Savior as ‘the generation that seek Him.’16

And as we do as He has invited: 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: '17 we shall be blessed with the utmost blessing of: 'and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.' 18 In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. ■

Caption: President Philip Yu Chen Ho


1 Gordon B. Hinckley, “Keeping the temple Holy,” Ensign, May 1990;

2 Psalms 24:3-6.

3 James 4:8.

4 2 Nephi 2:5-7.

5 James 4:8.

6 James 1:6-8.

7 Matthew 6:24.

8 See 2 Nephi 28:21.

9 2 Nephi 26:22.

10 See Matthew 4:8-10.

11 2 Nephi 9:30.

12 1 Timothy 6: 7-9.

13 Doctrine and Covenants 82:10.

14 See Psalms 24:5.

15 Revelation 7:13-17.

16 See Psalms 24:6.

17 Matthew 7:7.

18 See Doctrine and Covenants 88:68.