Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. (Psalm 24:3-4)

I climbed a hill this week on my bicycle, on a road that I hadn’t cycled before; I didn’t know the hill was there.

I came around a bend and there it was – straight up. Think Mt. Everest, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Sinai all combined. Think a vertical wall of asphalt at the end of a nice country meadow.

Some engineer/road builder had thought years ago, “Okay, Pastor Grant, let’s see you climb this!”

In my lowest (easiest) gear, I started climbing. I began singing “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.

My shoes are clipped onto my pedals. If I can’t pedal another stroke and stop, I waver for a moment, then fall and roll back down the hill attached to my bicycle.

I’m praying, “God, I need to be Lance Armstrong while he was on steroids right now!” Not the best prayer, but I’m struggling on this hill and I can’t stop to be theologically accurate with Shakespearean prose.

If you lived in Biblical times or walked in the Holy Land today, you climb hills. There are hundreds of references to mounts, climbing and mountains in the Bible. You have the Sermon on the Mount, Mount Sinai, Mount Ararat, Mount Zion and many other mountains.

In Psalm 24 climbing a mountain is synced with purity.

Anybody who tries to understand and walk in the teachings of Biblical purity, will find themselves on a vertical wall of effort. You will need grace, the power of the Spirit, and encouragement from others.

Since it is impossible in our own strength to be pure, two attempts are made as effort. Some go the legalistic path and others follow the licentious path. Both paths are wide, and both paths can’t be climbed.

Some cultures have restricting and legalistic rules. Other cultures – America! – have “do your own thing” as you define it, with no judgment from others, and there should be no consequences.

Rules don’t work, and walking without restraint is failure. The rule of religion depletes the soul and sensuality eats an apple with worms.

Paul writes, “Where the Spirit of the Lord resides, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

I was halfway up the hill; in my mind I was on mile 210 – but actually only about 200 yards. I was thinking about how to stop without falling. Down the other side of the road came another cyclist who shouted when he passed, “You are doing a great job!”

Amazing what encouragement can do in time of struggle. Yes, I got to the top.

Purity is an impossible mountain to climb. Impurity can manifest in sexual indulgence, gluttony, ambition, boasting, and materialism.

Impurity stalks all of us. Saying “yes” is easier than saying “no”. In the moment we act, causing later regret because passion eliminates the ability to see consequences.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom, and Hebrews 10:15 adds, “We are to encourage one another all the more as we see the day of the Lord approaching.”

Freedom or purity is supernatural. Nothing can resist the flesh except the Spirit of God.

I want to encourage you today. You are doing a great job! By God’s grace you will have victory.

Amen.