Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Romans 4:4-8

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him' [Psalm 32:1-2].

V4-5 — Imputation. What an amazing statement that “God justifies the wicked”! God declares the ungodly to be righteous! How do we respond to understanding that? Do we understand what imputation means? Paul helps us with these verses. It’s an accounting term, like debit and credit. Justification and imputation work together to accomplish salvation. In justification we are declared not guilty though we are guilty, righteous though we are not righteous. And imputation is how God justifies. He imputes Christ’s righteousness to us through faith, so that He can righteously declare us righteous. He “credits” to our “account” the righteousness of Christ. He cancels the immeasurable debt we owe, but not only that. He also gives us His requirement to enter His presence, the priceless righteousness of Christ. What an amazingly gracious gift! Verse 4 explains the way people would expect this transaction to be accomplished. Paul addresses the hypothetical question: “What must we do to take advantage of this transaction?” Paul says, “Nothing, because if you could do something to gain God’s grace, then God would owe you His grace. It would no longer be a gift. And this is contrary to salvation by grace, for grace would not be grace; it would be like a wage, an obligation, paid out as compensation.” God owes us nothing. Since salvation is a gift and not an obligation, we receive it through faith, not by works.

V6-8 — Blessed is the man. Paul again goes to the Old Testament Scriptures to show that David held this position of justification by faith, salvation by grace. David says, “Blessed are they whose sins have been covered and forgiven. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” “Blessed”=deeply secure, not deserving; due to God’s divine benediction, your lawless deeds are covered and forgiven and not imputed. God does not credit your sins to your account. This is an example of non-imputation. Both are essential for salvation. So God imputes Christ’s righteous to the believer’s account, and He does not impute the sins of the believer to the believer’s account. And Paul proves this right here, using only the Old Testament. Paul does not see justification as only the imputation of righteousness or only the forgiveness of sin. It’s both! And the blessedness of both conditions is by faith, apart from works. This doctrine for the mind is designed to produce joy in the heart. Be secure that you are justified!

Notice that David says the blessed man is the man whose works the Lord does not consider. The blessed man is deeply secure that God accepts him not on the basis of what he has done, but on the basis of what Christ has done. David does not stand before God and say, “Lord, I’m trying to be a good person.” David says, “The man who is really blessed is the man whose sins God doesn’t count against him.” Understanding imputation and non-imputation are important, as we will discuss imputation more when we come to Romans 5:12. I’ll make a statement regarding that passage for you to ponder until we get there: “The sin of Adam was imputed to all mankind, as every person was ‘in Adam.’ Adam was our representative, and when he sinned, the entire human race was counted as sinners.” Just as the righteousness of Christ was imputed to me through faith, so the sin of Adam was imputed to me through my humanity; I descended from Adam.

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