Recently Added
to Exposition of Romans:

3:9–20—Conclusion: OT confirms that humanity is under sin’s power
(January 26th 2019)
Romans 4:6–8—God also reckoned David righteous, even after he sinned.

6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

The news just keeps getting better, and reckoning (logizomai) is again at the forefront. As Douglas Moo says, “One of the reasons why Paul quotes these verses is the presence in them of the key word ‘reckon’.” ESV again translates it as “count”; NKJ is better with “impute.”

Permanent right standing
We’ve seen that a person obtains right standing with God by faith, not works. Now we learn that if a person who is already saved sins, God will not cancel his or her justification. God will not reckon sin against the person but instead will forgive his or her sin. As Moo points out, forgiveness is in this sense “God’s act in not reckoning their sins against them.” Bob Utley says the verb here is a strong double negative: God “will not under any circumstances” reckon his sin against him.

If you are saved, God placed righteousness in your account. Your sin was placed permanently on Christ at the cross; it’s paid for, and you owe nothing—account closed. Now when you sin, God will not remove the righteousness and put sin back into your account. Your righteousness remains secure and it is still based on your faith “apart from works.” Think about that: you do not need to “work” yourself back into God’s acceptance.

The person Paul uses to illustrate these truths is David, who wrote Psalm 32, the source of the quote in verses 7 and 8. David pronounces a blessing on people whose “lawless deeds” are forgiven and whose sins are “covered” (hidden and concealed so they are out of God’s sight). God is not like an unforgiving friend or spouse who will keep reminding you of your misdeeds.

Psalm 51 is David’s confession of his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah. He may well be writing of those same sins in Psalm 32.

The goal is lived righteousness
Forgiveness of sin is not freedom from the consequences of sin. You can read about David’s sin and its devastating consequences, God’s displeasure with and chastening of the king, and David’s repentance in 2 Samuel 11 and 12.

God will not let his people be content to stay in a lifestyle dominated by sin. His goal is that they display in their character the righteousness that was imputed to them when they were saved. Sanctification is the lifelong process through which reckoned righteousness becomes lived righteousness. Our behavior must come into alignment with our declared standing as God’s holy and righteous children.

God’s discipline can be quite painful, as it was for David, but when we bring our sin to God and yield to his discipline, we find it “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11 NIV). In Psalm 32 David makes his confession and goes on to say that God is our hiding place. God, David testifies, will preserve us from trouble and teach us the way we should go.