Friday, June 13, 2014


Romans 4:7-8, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Romans chapter 4 speaks to the truth, made evident in Abraham’s example, that justification is by faith alone.  A key word in the chapter is the word “counted” (NASB, “reckon;” 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24).  The word translates the Greek “logiszomai” which “primarily signifies ‘to reckon,’ whether by calculation or imputation” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).

Abraham gained righteousness, but not by works (Cf. Romans 4:4).  “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).  David is introduced as another example of one who gained righteousness by faith.  He likewise received forgiveness, not by works, but by faith.  The fact that Abraham received righteousness before he was circumcised (Cf. Genesis chapter 17), indicates that circumcision is not required to obtain right standing with God (Cf. Romans 4:9-12), and is availed to all who will but trust in God’s provision.

Jesus Christ, “who was delivered up for our trespasses,” has provided the means for forgiveness for all who “believe” (Romans 4:24-25).  “For our sake he (i.e. God) made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He represents the sole means through which true righteousness can be obtained.  By faith in Him one’s lawless deeds are forgiven, covered, and canceled out (Cf. Colossians 2:13-14; Ephesians 1:7).  True blessing is realized in God’s pardon.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was raised by a devout Christian mother, but to her bitter disappointment, he abandoned the church and went on live in a hedonistic way.  As a young man he associated himself with other young men who boasted of their sexual exploits.  It was during that period that he uttered his famous prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”  At 19 he began an affair that would continue for over 13 years.  But then God began to do a work in him.  He came to realize his own wickedness, saying, “And now You set me face to face with myself, that I might see how ugly I was, and how crooked and sordid, be-spotted and ulcerous.  And I looked and I loathed myself.”  On a subsequent occasion Augustine was overcome in his sin with fear and anxiety.  He threw himself on the ground and cried out to God in despair, asking, “How long, O Lord!”  He wrote of that happened next: “I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl (I know not which) – coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again ‘Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.’”  Augustine darted back to where he left his friend and opened up the Scriptures to find Romans 13:13– a passage that spoke directly to the sin that Augustine could not seem to escape.  He said of the occasion, “I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to.  For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.”  Augustine found forgiveness through faith in Christ.  He later had the words of Romans 4:7-8 engraved on a plaque.  He hung it at the foot of his bed so that he could look at them.  Until his dying day, the last thing his eyes beheld each day were these words from David, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Romans 4:7-8).

Abraham entered into that blessed estate of forgiveness.  David (the writer of Psalm 32) did also.  Paul (the writer of Romans), likewise joined the company of the forgiven, along with Augustine and the myriads of others who have trusted in Christ for salvation.  They all did so solely by faith in God and His provision.

“Happy, happy day, When Jesus washed my sins away!  He taught me how to watch and pray, And live rejoicing every day; Happy, happy day, When Jesus washed my sins away” (O Happy Day!; Philip Doddridge).

No comments: