Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
One way you can see that there is a problem in how Evangelicals read the Bible is that they will, first, think “righteous from the God of his salvation,” must refer to imputed righteousness, second, notice that this righteousness seems to be a response to moral uprightness, third, then either consider alternative interpretations of “righteousness,” or else find a way to reverse the seeming cause and effect order of the passage.
But here the NIV is more helpful on verse 5: “He will receive… vindication from God his Savior.” The word “righteousness” does not have to necessarily have anything to directly to do with some kind of reckoned moral perfection. In this case, the point is that those who belong to the Lord will be vindicated or declared in the right. This is not a declaration that one is sinless. It assumes God has in some way dealt with sin and the question is, for whom has he done so?
The answer primarily are those that have faith in him. They don’t turn to idols! (v. 4). Of course, the idea that trust in God is somehow opposed or different from a life of obedience is simply unknown to the Bible (because, if for no other reason, it is logically incoherent). Someone who trusts in the true God, will sin, but his life will not be indistinguishable from unbelievers. Those who refuse idols will also keep their hands clean and their hearts pure. The first commandment, after all, command faith and trust in the LORD alone. That is the obedience of faith.