Blessed Are Those Whose Sins Are Covered
So Paul continues his explanation of Old Testament proofs by introducing his second major Old Testament example: David
Romans 4:6-8 **
6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
Paul quotes from Psalm 32, a psalm written by David. In the first two verses of that psalm David declared that the blessed man (or woman) is one whose lawless deeds or sins have been forgiven by God. This is a definition in a sense of the word ‘bless‘. I know we use this word in a very general sense mostly. And that’s fine. David is using it here in a very technical sense. What would be the ultimate definition of being blessed by God? Being in glory with Him in salvation in the Kingdom. The full realization of His promises. Wouldn’t you agree? So when we think of the word in its ultimate sense, which is what Psalm 32 is doing. You arrive at that thinking right away. What does it mean to be blessed? In the ultimate sense? He says it is having your sins covered. This is a literal translation for cover. The word in Hebrew for ‘cover‘ is cover. To cover a sin is euphemism for atonement, making payment for a debt of sin. In the same way that we might say we “cover” our debts. It’s that same sense. So he’s saying, ‘blessed’, is having your sin debt paid for you and he adds a person is blessed when the Lord does not take their sin into account (impute sin).
The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, reads this way.
Psalm 31:2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, and whose mouth there is no guile.
There’s that word again: impute. Only it’s used here in the negative fashion as David says we’re blessed when the Lord does not count (impute) our sin against us. Rather we are blessed when the Lord would do the opposite, imputing us with His righteousness in its place. Notice how Paul introduces the quote in verse 6, he says if you really understand what David is saying here, David is testifying that God credits righteousness apart from works. That is the language here. David said blessedness is having your debts covered, that means someone else paid for your debt, not you paying for it with your own works. And God said He would not hold our debts against Him, that He would forgive them. That’s not working your way out of your problem. That’s somebody just going up and saying, forget you ever had a problem. That’s imputation of righteousness. That’s salvation by faith in some sense, not works. It’s just a little hidden because David doesn’t use the word ‘works‘. He just talks about it in a different fashion. David says that is how you are blessed.
Therefore, trying to work off your debt by yourself is the opposite wouldn’t you agree? If by definition salvation through a means other than works is being blessed, it would have to be salvation through works would have to be the opposite of that. And anyone who has ever labored under the misconception that your works get you into Heaven can testify to the fact that is not a blessing to live that way. Talk to anyone who has lived under a works base system such as Catholicism, Mormonism and a host of others in this world. When they come to faith afterward they look back on that life and realize just how unblessed that life was. It’s an almost nonstop sense of condemnation and doubt, interrupted only with short periods of self-righteous pride. Because that is all you have. On the good days you think you are doing a lot of good work and you feel good about yourself. And all the other days in-between you are worried you haven’t done enough. That’s for the one’s who are really invested in those systems.
David’s example serves as our second witness in support of Paul’s point. But he chose these two men for a very specific reason. These two men together slam the door on any suggestion that the Law of Moses has some connection here. Because as we have already said, Abraham was saved before the Law. So that says you don’t need it (the Law). But David says his sins were covered and his relationship with the Lord was established on the basis of imputation of righteousness. He says that, after the Law. David is your example that the Law didn’t change anything. The same thing was true before, as it was after. Two examples sandwiched on either side. So if salvation was trusting God to justify the ungodly before the Law and it is the same after the Law, then the Law did not change the plan. The Law is good, it’s holy, it’s necessary. Paul will explain later why. But it is not a part of your salvation. The Law has never been a means to salvation, whether in whole or part, whether before we’re saved or after.
So Paul said in chapter 3 of Romans that God’s plan of salvation was witnessed in the Law and the Prophets, and now in chapter 4 of Romans he’s shown that to be true with two witnesses. One from the Law, The story of Abraham is found in Genesis, which is one of the first five books of the Bible and is collectively called the “Law” according to Jewish reckoning. So Abraham is the example of the Law testifying. And the Psalms are considered part of the “prophets”, they are prophetic and you see the example from the prophets that the testimony of salvation is by faith and not by works. So the Law and the Prophets are testifying in the form of Abraham and David.
God has always described the means of salvation in the same terms in His word. The only thing that’s changed over history is how much detail we know of this plan. But even in the beginning men were told enough to understand that God would provide a payment for our mistakes. And on that basis we would be given a source of righteousness from God rather than trying to depend upon our own efforts to achieve righteousness. That’s being blessed by God, and the arrival of the Law of Moses
between these two points in time had no effect on the plan.
Next, how does circumcision play a role in our salvation?
** All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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