Monday, November 21, 2022

2022.11.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 4:5–8

Read Romans 4:5–8

Questions from the Scripture text: About what sort of person does Romans 4:5 speak—what doesn’t he do? What does he do instead of work? In Whom does he believe? Whom does God justify? By what mechanism (accounting/imputing or debt) is he justified? Through what instrument is this righteousness imputed to him? To whom else does the apostle appeal as teaching this (Romans 4:6)? In what condition is the man that David describes? How did this man come into a state of blessedness—Who did what to him? Apart from what? What three things do Romans 4:7-8 describe this man as doing? What two things were done to his lawless deeds and sins (Romans 4:7)? Who did not do what to his sin (Romans 4:8)?

What does a believer contribute to his righteousness or blessedness? Romans 4:5–8 looks forward to the devotional in this week’s midweek meeting. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that faith must be the only instrument of our justification, because God justifies the ungodly one who does not work.

Justification by faith must be justification by faith alone, Romans 4:5. The Spirit taught us, in Romans 4:3-4, that justifying faith is not a work. Now, He makes it very clear that justification by faith will not allow the addition of any works or godliness. 

Justification is specifically for “him who does not work.” Bringing any of our works at all into the equation removes entirely the possibility of righteousness. God justifies not those of substandard godliness but the entirely ungodly. Godliness cannot even begin until justification!

The righteousness that believers have accounted for them (calculated as theirs) isn’t just unmerited righteousness but demerited. Believers don’t get “better” than they deserve; they get the opposite of what they deserve.

This is not new in the age of the gospelRomans 4:6. The Davidic beatitudes of Psalm 32 give us the portrait of the blessed man. David, a man “after God’s own heart,” was a great sinner, even after decades of walking with the Lord. Yet, he describes a life of blessedness in which a man is saved by God (cf. Psalm 32:6–7), gladdened by God (cf. Psalm 32:7c), and led by God (cf. Psalm 32:8), while surrounded by covenant love (cf. Psalm 32:10b) and filled with gladness (cf. Psalm 32:11). 

The believer’s contribution to his blessednessRomans 4:7-8. What “works” does the blessed man contribute to his coming into such a state of blessedness? “lawless deeds … sins … sin” (verses 7–8). Or, as our version of Psalm 32 itself has it, “transgression … sin … iniquity” (cf. Psalm 32:1–2). There is a way of thinking that says that God’s grace produces much, but then that we supply the faith or the choice. Or even that God supplies the faith, and that the faith is received as if it were a work good enough to make us right with God. 

But these miss what Paul and David both say by the Spirit. We do supply much—our contribution to our salvation is the sin from which we need to be saved! This is the only thing that we contribute.

The Lord’s contribution to the believer’s blessednessRomans 4:7-8. We supply the lawless deeds, but the Lord supplies the forgiveness (Romans 4:7a). We supply the sins, but the Lord supplies the covering of the sins (verse 7b). We supply every single sin, but the Lord supplies by Jesus the righteous (cf. Romans 3:26) calculation of that sin away from our account. Faith, then, sees that we supply only that which is bad, and that the Lord saves us by supplying in Christ every good thing necessary.

What did you supply to your salvation? In what must you hope, for righteousness? In what mustn’t you hope?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we look to You alone for righteousness, blessedness, and salvation. For, the only thing that we can contribute to these is the sin from which we need to be saved. Forgive us, and count us righteous, for only the works that Jesus has done, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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