(Article for publication week of 7-25-2012 AD)
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).
I told you last week that the same Greek word that is translated “impute” in Romans 4, is also translated “counted” in this great chapter that tells us that believers are justified by the righteousness of Another. Our text this week is one of those places. God counts a believer as righteous as Christ, though the believer in and of himself remains ungodly. God justifies the ungodly! Oh! What a glorious gospel!
Dear reader if you suppose yourself to be a good person, my text does not apply to you. I would highly recommend that if you think yourself to be righteous, don’t read the Narrow Way any more! Go ahead and turn to the sports section or something else that interests you, for the gospel is only for sinners. But to those who know from the Bible and their own experience that they are helpless sinners, and ungodly in and of themselves, keep reading, for we have a message for the ungodly! The fact is all people are ungodly, but some haven’t found it out yet.
Now, look again at our text. It says that God justifies the ungodly. This is because the believer is justified by the righteousness of Christ and not his own righteousness. The believer is justified by an alien righteousness, a righteousness not his own. We have no righteousness of our own whatsoever. We must be found as righteous as God to be right with Him. And this we have in the Lord Jesus Christ only.
The righteousness of a believer is imputed, not imparted. There is an eternity of difference between the two. The righteousness of a believer is imputed to his record, not infused into him. If you will take the time to read and study Romans 3:20- 5:21, you will see that. This is the difference in working for salvation and in believing in Christ for salvation. God justifies a believer, because of Christ alone. I repeat- God justifies the ungodly.
Now, to be sure, the Holy Spirit surely does impart a new nature to God’s elect when He regenerates them. But this is to be considered under sanctification, not justification, which we will (DV) do in due time. But first we need to see the critical truth of how we may be “just with God” (Job 9:2). A believer’s righteous standing before God, the Righteous Judge is not because of the new nature imparted in regeneration and continued in sanctification, it is because of Christ Alone. Our righteousness with God is not because of the gift of faith the Holy Spirit gives to the elect sinner, but again, because of Christ Alone. The blessed man is the one to whom God imputes righteousness apart from anything in himself, or anything he does. The only righteousness that will ever fit you for heaven is that which is imputed. When you believe that you are a blessed person!