“‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ … David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘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 4:3, 6–8).
How does God bring righteousness to men and women? There are many like Abraham who have believed God and God has credited to them divine righteousness. David knew it too. What blessedness! God credits righteousness to those sinners who believe in the Lord. He lays to their account a full pardon for their sins; He justifies them, declaring them to be righteous. And the righteousness that is credited to us has nothing at all to do with some goodness that we have accumulated because of our works. It is not something we have done community service to obtain. We have not worked for a year to have righteousness imputed to us. Paul says categorically these three words: “apart from works” (Romans 4:6). We have not worked to earn this righteousness.
Then what is this righteousness that is credited to us and makes us eternally blessed? It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Think of what Paul said to the Philippians: “Not having a righteousness of my own … but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).
Those who trust in Jesus Christ enjoy the three-fold blessings of this passage in Romans:
All their transgressions are forgiven (v.7). For every occasion when they have crossed the boundary into forbidden territory, God has forgiven them. Every single trespass, even the one you are most ashamed of. “Forgiven,” says God. He has gone on record. He says so. He declares, “I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). He makes a promise that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
All their sins are covered (v.7). In the Old Testament, sins were covered temporarily through sacrifices. But here is the new and remarkable way in which God covers the sins of believers once and for all. God takes the robe of righteousness of Jesus Christ—His Son’s holiness and obedience—and He wraps us from head to toe in that. What a stunning covering! On the inside we are forgiven and on the outside our sins are all covered by the righteousness of Christ. What blessedness!
Their sin the Lord will never count against them (v.8). How is that possible? Does God turn a blind eye to our sin? Does He shrug in indifference? I will tell you how God can be a just God and yet not count our sins against us. God has counted them against His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sin was counted against Christ and nailed to His cross. God will not demand payment again for what Christ has already paid.
That is the eternal blessedness of the gift of God through what Jesus Christ has done. It is the privilege of everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. I am here today to tell you that if you turn away from your unbelief and trust in the Savior then God will not hold your sin against you. He will cover your sin and put you in Christ for evermore (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Don’t you want this blessedness? It’s real and it is being offered to you today. Receive Him who is the Savior. Give Him no rest until you know that He is yours for evermore. “Lord, save me. Lord, help me. Lord, forgive me.”
—Geoff Thomas, adapted