◄ Verse of the day ►
“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
Thoughts on Today’s Verse
Paul open his Roman letter with a carefully constructed argument that all people are sinners..(both Jew and Gentile alike), and all need a Saviour. He continued by presenting the doctrine of justification by faith in his third chapter, and then expanded his reasoning in chapter 4, with examples of biblical characters who believed God’s word.. and whose faith was credited as righteousness.
His main concern in the fourth chapter were religious Jews, who were convinced that men are saved by obeying the Law. They refused to believe that one is not justified in God’s sight by works of the Law. They would not accept that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith in His only begotten Son, and for this reason Paul used illustrations from the Old Testament to validate his line of reasoning.
Paul’s first illustration is Abraham, the highly esteemed patriarch of Israel, who believed God’s word when called out of Ur of the Chaldees. Paul quoted from the first book of Moses – Genesis, where we read, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness”. Abraham was not justified by what he did but by what he believed.
Abraham was justified in the eyes of God, hundreds of years before of the Law was given to Israel and Paul used Abraham to show that justification is not connected with keeping the Law. It was only through his faith that God reckoned him to be righteous
The importance of this truth cannot be overstated. The wages a worker receives can never be described as a gift. Payment is not considered a free gift by the one who works, but something that is rightfully theirs. Similarly, to the one who does not work, but believes on Him.. Who declares the ungodly to be righteous – that man’s faith is credited for righteousness.
Paul chose king David as his second illustration and used a quote from Psalms to continue his line of reasoning. “How blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Unlike Abraham David did live under the Mosaic Law, but was justified in God’s sight in the same way as his forefather – by faith and not by keeping the Law.
Paul wants us all to see that a gift is not given as a reward for work – that would be a payment. God’s blessing of salvation is not given because of works of the Law. God gives salvation freely – apart from works. It is unbiblical to teach that to gain salvation one has to keep the Law, or that one is justified by engaging in a religious ritual, or undertaking a good work. Such teaching is quite frankly – wrong. It is unscriptural. It is legalistic. It presents a false gospel. It removes the freedom we have in Christ and places people in bondage to sin.
By using Abraham and David as examples of justification by faith, Paul was able to show that the legalistic teaching.. that men are saved by obeying the Law – is false and unbiblical. One historian wrote the following.. “Whereas Abraham lived before the Mosaic Law, David lived under it. However, Abraham’s story is in the Law section of the Hebrew Bible, while David’s is in the Prophets section.” Both were examples of men who were justified by faith for the forgiveness of sin, and it was because his sins were forgiven BY FAITH, that David rejoice and write in Psalm 32, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
Abraham was justified in Ur of the Chaldees, because he believed God.. and His faith was translated into action when he set out on his journey to the promised land. David trusted God as a young shepherd boy. David was a man after God’s own heart because he believed God’s word.. and we see his faith in action when he used his sling to protect the sheep from a lion and bear and he was able to defy Goliath because he trusted God.
It is important to realise that a man is justified the moment he believes in his heart on the Lord Jesus Christ.. and this can be called “initial justification”. This initial justification immediately places a man in an eternal relationship with Christ, (positional justification). Initial justification makes a sinner into a saint and brings them into fellowship with God at one moment in time.. while positional justification is an eternal position, which can never be lost. However, sin can cause fellowship with the Lord to be broken UNTIL that sin is confessed before God.
David’s hymn of praise is connected with Psalm 51, when he confessed his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. No doubt the Holy Spirit had been convicting David of his sin for many months until he finally confessed – ‘against You and You only have I sinned and done this great evil’. On that day David discovered that when God’s justified saints confess their sins… He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. No wonder David cried out, “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.”
It was not by works of the Law that David was declared righteous as a young man – he was justified by faith. Nor did he have to carry out some penance or legalistic act to atone for his sin – he was forgiven because of his faith. His lawless deeds were forgiven and his sin was covered by the blood of the one and only sacrifice for sin – Jesus Christ the righteous, Who is the propitiation for our sin and for ALL who throughout the history of the world, are justified by grace through faith in Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the truth in Romans that we are not justified by when we do, but in Whom we believe. Thank You that I am not justified by works of the Law but by faith in Christ and the work that HE did for me on the cross, when He bore my sins and carried my iniquity on His sinless shoulders. Thank You that ALL my lawless deed have been forgiven – past present and future and that by faith in Him I am born anew (initial justification) and have been placed into eternal union with Christ Jesus my Saviour and am positionally justified. Keep me from thinking that works of the Law are required for my initial salvation or my ongoing sanctification. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient and I pray that I may work the works God, that You have prepared for me to do in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and for your eternal praise and glory – this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.