just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:Romans 4:6(NASB)
The focus of Romans chapter 4, is salvation by grace through faith. In this section, Paul is writing about the justification aspect of salvation (being justified in the eyes of God). Although we are also to live by faith, to walk by faith, and to pray in faith throughout our earthly life (the ongoing process of our sanctification) the emphasis of this particular passage is initial salvation (justification).
Paul first identifies Abraham as the 'father of faith' and reminds us that when God called him to leave his home and family in Ur of the Chaldees: "Abram believed in the Lord, and God reckoned it to him as righteousness." His decision to believe God's Word, leave his home, and set out for the land God promised him, was a decision of obedient faith, and in the book of Hebrews we read how he looked into the far distant future, with full assurance that the promises God made to him would be fulfilled.
Paul quickly moves from the righteousness of Abraham (who lived before the Law was given) to David (who lived during the time of the prophets and kings). David was a man who 'thrilled' to speak of the blessing on those to whom God credits with righteousness, apart from works: "How blessed is the man," is David's rejoicing cry, "how amazingly favoured is the one whom the Lord does not charge with sin, and in whom is no spirit of deceit."
This biblical quote comes from Psalm 32, and like Psalm 51, is based on David's confession of his adultery with Bathsheba and his manipulated murder of her husband, Uriah. It is a psalm that expresses David's overwhelming gratitude and praise for the grace of God. David was justified when he was a young shepherd-boy tending his father's sheep, but the more he discovered of the long-suffering faithfulness of God, the more his heart overflowed with thanksgiving and praise.
Paul wanted to emphasise that salvation is a free gift from God and not something we can earn through good works of the flesh. It is not something we get by keeping the Law or performing some acceptable religious ritual. The only good work that secures our salvation is Christ's finished work on the Cross, and the only way we can receive salvation is by faith. There is nothing we can say or do to justify ourselves, and nothing we can do or say to earn His favour. There is nothing we can add in order to improve our salvation or make it more secure, for like Abraham and David, salvation is by faith alone in God's Word, and when a man or woman believes in their heart by faith, God declares us righteous in His sight.
Religious Jews challenged this truth, but Paul used these two patriarchs to show from the Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy), from the Psalms, and from the Prophets, that justification in the sight of the Lord is through faith alone: "How blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered," we read. How favoured are those whose lawless acts are pardoned and whose sins are covered over. How blessed are those whose wrong-doings have been forgiven and over whose sins a veil has been drawn. Oh, how happy are they whose transgressions have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered up!
Every member of the human race, Jew and Gentile alike, is born a sinner who is imputed with sin and faces eternal condemnation. There is nothing in heaven or earth or under the earth that can reverse the status of fallen man, with one exception, faith in Christ (a heart that trusts God's Word). Everyone who has believed God's living Word is justified in His sight and their sin is forgiven. They are declared by God to be righteous, and they are changed from being condemned sinners to blessed saints.
Old Testament saints believed God's promises and,throughout their lives, looked forward in faith to the coming Messiah Who would save His people from their sin and bring in an everlasting kingdom of righteousness. Old Testament saints were justified before the Cross, and gained His approval through their faith.
New Testament saints are those who have lived by faith since the Cross and Resurrection. They also believe God's Word and look back in faith to the Cross, when the Saviour of the world bore the sin of the world and washed the stains of sin away from all who believe in Him. They have also gained His approval through their faith and been imputed with righteousness and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Both Old and New Testament saints have gained divine approval through their faith. May we never forget how blessed we are that the righteousness of God has been made ours by faith in Him. For as David said, "Blessed is the man whom God credits with righteousness."
Heavenly Father, thank You that salvation is not a complicated issue, but simply a matter of faith in Your Word, believing the truth of Scripture, and looking to Jesus, the true and living Word Who died and rose again so that all who believe on Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Thank You that I am justified in Your eyes, by grace through faith in Christ, and that as I grow in grace and in a knowledge of Him, I am being sanctified, day by day, and being changed into the image and likeness of Christ, as I die to self and live for Him. I rejoice with Abraham, David, and all the saints who have gone before me, for we are all blessed beyond measure. Praise Your holy name, AMEN.