Read Romans 4
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Romans 4 focuses on justification and how followers of Christ are made right with God. Paul gives two human examples in the first eight verses who would prove to be excellent illustrations of how an individual is made right with the Lord. He writes about Abraham, the father and founder of our faith, and then quotes David, the greatest king (not named Jesus) to lead God’s people.
In discussing both Abraham and David, and throughout the rest of the chapter, Paul uses an accounting term to help the reader understand righteousness. Whenever a word is used multiple times in the same chapter, we ought to pay attention. In Romans 4, Paul uses the Greek word logizdomai 11 times (v. 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24). In every one of the verses except Romans 4:8, the word is translated as “credited.” In 4:8, the word is translated as “count.” When something is credited, it’s an accounting term that means “to count as” or to give something a status that was not there before.
Two specific instances of the word logizdomai help us understand the beauty of salvation. In Romans 4:5, Paul writes that one’s faith is credited to them as righteousness. Our faith in God and trust in Jesus’ work on the cross allow us to be counted/credited as righteous before God. On the other hand, for those who do believe, in Romans 4:8, we see that our sins are not “counted” against us because of Jesus.
In other words, it’s our faith that credits us as righteous or justified before God. And, this same faith means that our sins are not counted against us. In Genesis 15:6, Abraham’s faith credited him as righteous and the same faith in the Lord credits us as righteous. We can never behave good enough to gain favor with God, and because of Jesus we can never out-sin the love of God since the Lord will not count (logizdomai) our sins against us.
- If someone asked you, “Why should God let you into heaven?”, what would you say?
- Why do you think God uses the examples of Abraham and David to help us understand righteousness?
- Take a few moments right now to thank God that through Jesus He has declared you righteous. He credited Jesus’ work in your favor and doesn’t count your sins against you!
God, thank you, that you sent your Son Jesus. Thank you that He lived a perfect life and died for our sins, and that His righteousness is credited to us. Thank you that even though you know everything we have done, are doing, and will do that you still love us. Thank you that you do not “credit” our sins against us, but rather credit your righteousness to us. Help us to never boast about our works, but rather to constantly boast about your work. Amen.
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