(Article for publication week of 7-18-2012 AD)
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin’” (Romans 4:6-8).
We have shown you in previous articles that none can be saved by their own personal righteousness (Romans 3:10; Isaiah 64:6). We have also proven that God justifies His people by His Own sovereign grace without any cause being found in the ones He justifies (Romans 8:33; 3:24). Justification is an eternal act of God’s free and sovereign grace, whereby He declares a believer righteous in His Own Eyes because of the righteousness of Christ Alone.
Our text today is a reference from the thirty-second Psalm where David expressed his faith in God’s grace for his righteousness. The fourth chapter of Romans is fundamental to our understanding of justification, for here the Apostle Paul declares plainly that elect sinners are justified by imputed righteousness. The fourth chapter of Romans is clear that all believers are saved the same way, and that is by imputed righteousness.
Imputation is a glorious concept, and the person who is favored to believe it is, as the Psalmist says, truly “blessed.” The same Greek word also is translated here in Romans four as “reckon”, and “counted.” The idea is that God counts, or reckons a believer as truly and perfectly righteous because of the righteousness of Another. The word “impute” means “to charge, attribute, or ascribe.” Theologically, it means to reckon to a person what is not his. You see, God counts a believer as righteous as Christ, although the believer is actually and completely unrighteous himself. The believer has no righteousness of his own, but he has a righteousness that is far better- the righteousness of Christ!
Now the Psalmist David knew himself to be a wretched sinner, as every true believer in Christ also knows. He knew he could never be saved by his own works because he was such a vile wretch by nature. This every heaven born soul has been taught. The person who boasts of his own righteousness and supposes that he may be justified by something he does, or by some inherent righteousness of his own, is sadly deceived. But to those who have come to the end of themselves, and given up all hope of self-righteousness, the gospel declares the imputed righteousness of Christ for the sinner’s justification.
Blessed is the man who is justified God’s way. Our text says he is indeed doubly blessed, for God positively declares him righteous, and negatively does not charge him with his sins. Thus we see what a glorious blessing it is to be justified by God by free grace alone in Christ Alone. God does not see any sin His people! All our sins have been covered the text says. The Righteousness of Christ completely covers all our sins!
Blessed are you if by grace you are enabled to believe this glorious gospel that declares the righteousness of God in His Son that is reckoned to the account of all who believe in Him. Blessed is the believer in Christ!