Abraham's Justification: Faith, Not Works (Romans Sermon 20 of 120)
June 04, 2000 | Andy Davis
I. Introduction: Salvation By Works: The Universal Religion
Please take your Bibles if you would and open to Romans chapter 4. Today, we're going to be looking at Verses 1-8 in Romans 4 and I have been excited for about a month to relay to you the things that I've learned out of this text. A number of you who I interact with on a weekly basis, I've already shared some of the things that I've learned from this text. Romans 4:7-8 has just come alive to me. It's just come alive. And a tremendous encouragement to us as sinners in this passage. And it's just my prayer that I might be able to bring it out and to bring it as a word of encouragement and exhortation to all of you because this is pure water that we're going to drink and it's going to be refreshing to the sinner who needs that kind of refreshment today. Romans 4:7-8.
Now, all over the world, there are various ways of reaching out to God. We are intrinsically a religious people. Intrinsically, we're going to reach out to the divinity or the deity or whatever it is that people call a higher being. In India right now, there are Hindus that are reaching out in their way, according to their religious system. In Thailand, Buddhists are doing the same thing the way that they have been taught. In China, some following the teachings of Confucius. In Japan, Shintoism rules and reigns and people have confidence in that system. In Borneo, they're following some pagan sacrificial system their ancestors handed down to them.
But at the core of all of these religious systems, is one uniting theme. Justification by human effort. Justification by works. In other words, that we can be made right with God, we can be made right because of our sins, we can be made right through something we do, some effort we make. There is in all the world, I believe one religious system other than Christianity, and it is that the religion of human effort. Now, it takes various forms, interesting forms, but over against that, here in this chapter, we have justification by faith alone. And we have one man who lived 4000 years ago as an example of that and that is Abraham.
For in this text, in all of Romans Chapter 4, Paul is asking the question, "What did Abraham discover in this matter? How was Abraham made right with God?" And he begins to answer that in these first eight verses. Look with me together as we read them:
"What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. "Now, when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works. "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
Now I'm going to tell you, it's my purpose today to make verses 7-8 come alive to you. I want these verses, verses 7-8, to be sweet to you. I want you to return to them again and again and again. Because the reality is, every one of us is going to get up from this sacred place and go off and sin.
Now, some of us are going to take longer than others but it's going to happen eventually and what will you do when that happens? What provision is there for sinners like us? These are some of the sweetest verses in the Bible for that. "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against him." It's a beautiful thing. Now, Abraham here in this passage is an example of faith. And what we have to look at the flow and the discussion of what Paul is doing here. Why does he bring Abraham in in Chapter 4?
II. Abraham the Example of Faith
Now, in Romans 1:18-3:20, Paul was establishing one main point and that is that every single one of us has exchanged the glory of God for something less that makes us idolaters. We're living for something other than God. We love something other than God. When we're needy, we turn to something other than God. We organize our lives around something other than God and that is sin. And so it says in Romans 3:23 which sums up that whole section, "All have sinned... " And I think it says lack, "All have sinned and lack the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace."
So, we need justification. And then in Romans 3:21-26, we have what I call the glowing heart of the gospel. We have the cross of Jesus Christ erected before us and salvation flows from that cross. Salvation flows from the doctrines in Romans 3:21-26. Justification comes through the cross of Christ. Remember what justification is. It's the legal declaration by the judge of all the Earth, that is God, that we are not guilty. And how precious is that, to be able to stand on Judgment Day and not be guilty for any of the sins that we've committed? It's precious. And how is it we receive it? We receive it by faith. Justification by faith. And then we saw that propitiation was included in the cross.
The exhausting of the wrath of God, that Jesus Christ drank the cup of God's wrath to its dregs. He absorbed the wrath of God against us for our sin. And it's gone, through faith in Christ. And then thirdly, we saw a demonstration, that God demonstrates his justice. Remember, I asked the question at that time, how can a group of sinners like us expect to go to a holy place like heaven? How can that be? And what would we say of the judge who would allow people like us past him into heaven? How can he be just? The answer is in the cross. For God demonstrated his justice to the world. He displayed Jesus and the transfer of guilt taken off us and put on his own son, accomplished his justice. And so we are able to go to heaven. God is just and also the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
What a blessed gospel is this. And then last week, we saw that all of this is justification by faith alone, apart from works. And that is the theme of Romans 4. He's going to unpack it. He's going to expand it. Justification by faith alone, apart from anything we can do. We saw that justification by faith alone excludes boasting. It includes the Jews and Gentiles together. And thus, it's easily transportable all over the world. We're not bringing with us that law with all of its requirements and regulations, but it's just by faith in Christ alone and justification by faith alone upholds the law. Now remember I told you we're not going to fully understand how it does that till we get to chapter 6, 7, and 8. But it does, by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes into us and we are able to obey the law. Not all those regulations about what you can eat and how you should worship and what clothes you could wear, or circumcision… All of those things have been fulfilled in Christ. But rather, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Now that is fulfilled inside you, if you're a Christian, by the Holy Spirit.
So now we turn to an example, and why does Paul do this? Why does he reach way back into history for some old guy who died so many years ago? What is the relevance of Abraham to our life today? Is there any at all? Well, as I look at chapter 4. I take my interpretive principle from the very last verses of chapter 4. Look at it, verses 23-24, it says, "The words it was credited to him, were written not for him alone but also for us." In other words, when you go back and read in Genesis 15, which we're going to do and see what happened to Abraham, that account is in the Bible for us. So that we can learn how we can be right with God.
We read Genesis, we read Abraham's experience and we understand there is one God and there is one plan of salvation, justification by faith alone. The same gospel, the same message that saved Abraham, a promise believed, trusted, and God credited to him as righteousness. The same thing happens to us. And so that account is written for us. So we're going way back in time to some old guy, Abraham, and we're going to find out that the very same way that Abraham got saved, we get saved too. And that's what he's doing in Chapter 4. Now, why does Paul choose Abraham?
III. Four Reasons Why Paul Chooses Abraham
Now, why does Paul choose Abraham? I think four reasons.
1. Abraham’s humanity: fleshing out Paul’s theology by a living witness
First, Paul chooses Abraham because of his humanity. He's a human being. He's a real live flesh and blood man. He really lived. Now we've been going through some heavy doctrine, going through Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, the heart of the gospel and all that. So Paul takes a step back and gives an illustration, like a good preacher would do. An illustration of how faith is lived out. And he chooses Abraham, just as humanity.
2. Abraham’s antiquity: validating Paul’s theology by an ancient witness
Secondly, Abraham's antiquity. He lived 2000 years before Paul. Now why is that important? It's because Paul was being accused of doctrinal innovation. "You're coming up with a new gospel, a new message, we're Jews here and you're turning everything on its head. How can you do that? You're preaching a new gospel". Paul says, "No, I'm not. No I'm not." The same way that Abraham got saved, we get saved today. So Abraham's antiquity helps. Abraham lived 500 years or more before the law of Moses came. So 2000 years before Paul wrote this greatest of all letters, 500 years or so before the law was given to Moses, Abraham was justified. And so his antiquity helps his case.
3. Abraham’s patriarchy: demonstrating God’s universal vision by the “Father of the Jews”
Third, Abraham's patriarchy, the fact that he was patriarch, that he was an ancestor, a forefather of the Jews. He was the first Jew to some degree. The beginning of the Jewish nation. And in bringing Abraham up and showing as we're going to see in Chapter 4, that Abraham was justified as a gentile. This shows that Paul is not preaching a new gospel. The same message goes all over the world for the gentiles because it was before Abraham was circumcised, that he was justified. And so what helps him, that he's choosing Abraham, because he's the head of all the Jews, the first Jew. And he was saved as a gentile, now that's the point he's going to make in Chapter 4.
4. Abraham’s piety: removing Jewish (and humanity’s) pride by a pious “ungodly” man
Then finally, Abraham's piety, and this we're going to bring out very clearly. Why does that help his case? Because Abraham was a pious man. He was, what appear to us to be a godly man. But in the passage I'm going to work on today, he's actually called a wicked man, an ungodly man. That should shock us. But who of us is righteous before God? Is Abraham able to stand before God based on his own good works, and say, "What a righteous man I am? Now justify me?" That's the very thing he's going to say he can't do.
And so the fact is he's choosing a good man, a great man, and putting him up and saying, not even his works would save him. So how do you think your works are going to save you? So he chooses very well. He chooses Abraham as an example for all of us. Now, how does it work? In verse 1 he says, "What then shall we say that Abraham our forefather discovered in this matter?"
IV. The Lesson of Abraham
Now what matter is he talking about? Well, how a sinner gets right with God. Is that relevant? Is it relevant to you? Are you concerned about how a sinner gets right with God? I would say, that's the question of life, isn't it? How can I as a sinner stand before God holy and blameless? Well, alright then, what did Abraham discover in this matter of how that happens? It says, if in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. Now, you see the if-then. If Abraham could stand before God, based on his works, what is the then? What comes out of that? Boasting. We've just excluded boasting. Where then is boasting? It's thrown out. It's excluded. Why is that God will have none of us boast before him? If he could be justified by his works, he could stand up before God and say, "Give me what I deserve." And God would have to do it.
But would God be a debtor to any man or any woman? Would God owe any of us anything? God owes none of us. And so it says, "If Abraham was justified, he had something to boast about but not before God." We cannot boast before him. In verse 3, it states his justification. This is so beautiful. In Verse 3, he says, "What does the Scripture say?" Now I'm going to jump out of the flow here and say, can I ask just that all you who are godly, who love God, pray that First Baptist Church, the people of First Baptist would ask this question about everything? What does the Scripture say? Does the Scripture address this issue? And if so, let's do what God says on everything. What does the Scripture say? Isn't Paul setting us an example here? What does the Scripture say? Pray that we would grow up into asking that question about everything, because God has said much to us.
Alright, well, what does the Scripture say about Abraham's discovery in this matter? It says, "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." Now that's a quote from the Old Testament. Genesis 15, if you want, you can turn there and look. If you want to just listen, you can just listen. But in Genesis Chapter 15, we have the story of Abraham's justification. Now in Genesis 15, God appears to Abraham and he says, "Do not be afraid Abram." That was his name at that point. "I am your shield and your very great reward." I'm your reward. I'm what you get. Do you realize that's what you get when you die if you're a Christian? You get God. He is your reward. He is what you get. Not the streets of gold and the white robes and the harps and all those images that we have of heaven. You get God. You get the eternal Creator of the ends of the earth and he will satisfy you. He will satisfy you deeply and richly.
Well, Abraham says, "'Oh sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? ' And Abraham said, 'You have given me no children. So a servant in my household will be my heir.' Then the word of the Lord came to him. 'This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.'" And then one of the great moments in all of the Old Testament. He took Abram out. I think he was in a tent at that point. He took him out of his tent and it was night, and he said, "Abram, look up to the sky. Well, what do you see? You see stars."
Psalm 8:3-4 says "When I consider the heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars, which you have created, what is man that you are mindful of him? The son of man that you even notice him." It's very humbling to look at the stars, isn't it? Especially now we know just how immense the universe is. So he takes Abram out and he says, "Be humbled Abram. Be humbled. I made all these. I created every one of them by my mighty hand and power they are there. I spread them throughout the universe. Can you count them? Count them if you can." And then he gave him a promise. "So shall your offspring be." You're going to have this many children Abram. It's a promise, it's gospel, it's good news.
"So shall your offspring be," came the word to Abram. And then, at that moment, something happened. If you had been standing there, you wouldn't have seen it. There's no works involved. There's no display. There's nothing external, but inside Abram, something happened. He heard that message and he believed it. That's all. He just believed it was true. And what happened according to Scripture the moment that he believed? He was justified. God credited to him as righteousness. All his sins were removed at that moment.
The same is true of every one of you. You hear a simple message. Jesus died on the cross and wants to take you to heaven. And as you hear that message, the same thing's going to happen inside you. Hey, you'll believe it and God sees it. Nobody else can see it, but God sees it. And at that moment, all your sins are removed. That's all. Simple faith. Humbling faith. The faith that looks up at a mighty God and what he's done and doesn't look inward at all to anything you've done. Just looks to a mighty God and says, "Yes, you can do it God. You can give me this great thing." He simply believed.
And it says, "He believed and it was credited to him as righteousness." Or the word is "reckoned" or "imputed." I like the word imputed. It's a great word. The root of it is a latin word 'putare' which means to think. We get computer, a machine that thinks for us. More and more as time goes on, we're letting our computers do our thinking. I don't know my home phone number. I lost my little electronic thing. What is your phone number? I don't know, let me look it up. What's two plus three? Let me dial it into the calculator. We have our computers to do our thinking for us. Computer, right? Or reputation. It's what people think about you. Well, what is this imputing? That's what the word means.
If you bring it over into English, you can get imputed. It means that God thinks of you as clean. Isn't that beautiful? God thinks of you that way. He thinks of you as free from sin, in the same way that Jesus was thought of as a sinner. In Isaiah 53:12, it says, "He was reckoned with the ungodly." Isaiah 53:12. When people looked at Jesus, they saw him at that moment as a sinner. They reckoned him as a sinner. He was treated like he was a criminal, ungodly. Do you see the exchange? He's treated the way we deserve to be treated. We're treated the way he deserved to be treated. The exchange of the cross. Righteousness was given to Abraham. He was covered with righteousness.
Now, Paul then describes how this occurs. Romans 4:4-5, it says, "Now, when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation." Or according to debt, would be a literalistic way to translate it. Now, many of you hold down jobs. And when payday comes, how would you feel if your employer came and said, "You know, I'm going to give you this money, but I want you to understand, this is just a gift. You don't deserve this. This is just something I'm giving to you as an example of my grace and my beneficence. So here, take your pay and go home, and enjoy it on me. Go out, take your wife to eat and just enjoy it on me." Wouldn't you look at him like, "You are strange? I worked for that money. That's my salary. I deserve that." Isn't that the principle here in Verse 4?
When you work, what you get, you get because you deserve it. Can any of us come to God that way and hope to get a favorable outcome? God, give me only what I truly deserve. I don't want any gifts. No gifts from God. I don't want anything from you. Just give me what I deserve, that's all. Is that what you want?
Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as debt, it's what you deserve. What do we deserve for our sin? The wages of sin is what? Death. But the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord. We don't want wages. We want gift, don't we? We want gift. We want a free gift, grace. And he says, "You know, when you work, you get what you deserve." However, now Verse 5... Oh, I want Verse 5 to be so sweet to you, "However, to the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies..." And this is a shocking word, wicked. Do you see it in your Scripture? Do you see the word? It says, "Ungodly." I thought we were talking about Abraham here?
Do you understand what Abraham looked like to God before he was justified? He was covered with sin, covered with sin just like all of us, even the best of the best covered with sin. There is no one righteous. No, not one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away. There is no one who does good. No, not one. And that was including Abraham.
So, we have three clear statements in this one verse of justification apart from works. The first, it says, "To the man who does not work…" Could it be any plainer? Apart from work? Just where Martin Luther got it. "To the man who does not work..." Now, this isn't giving us an excuse for laziness. "Oh, I don't need to do anything for God. I don't need to serve him in any way because Romans 4:5 says that I don't need to." That's not what he's talking about here. We're talking about justification. Your works will be welcome when we come to sanctification. Get busy and work hard on yourself. Grow in godliness, grow in prayer, grow in witnessing, grow in stewardship. Yes, work hard, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Yes, work, but not for justification, not to get right with God. No work will be accepted on that front.
And then second, this word, "ungodly." "But trust God who justifies the ungodly." All of us should feel that way when we sin. And when you do, when you feel ungodly, come back to Romans 4:5. God justifies people like you and me, ungodly people who deserve wrath, and hell, he justifies us through faith in Christ. And then thirdly, "His faith is credited to him as righteousness." It's just reckoned to his account. God just put that in his account. He covered him with the asbestos robe.
Now in Verses 6-8, he turns to David, Abraham's descendant. And this is Paul's second witness. In Jewish law, the testimony of two or three witnesses was required. You remember that? Jesus said so in John 8:17, "In your own law, it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid, two or three, and that's what you need."
V. Abraham’s Descendent David: Paul’s Second Witness (verses 6-8)
So now, he's bringing another witness and he says, "David says the same thing." So he's confirming it. Both David and Abraham were ungodly, justified by faith alone. Now the question is though, "Do they say the same thing?" Up to this point, up to this point, we've looked at justification positively, positively. In other words, that you are covered with a righteousness that doesn't belong to you. It's Jesus's robe, and he drapes it on you, so that when God sees you, he sees you righteous in Christ. That's positive, right? It's imputed to you. Christ's righteousness is imputed or thought of to you positively.
But now, we have the negative side of justification. Look at verses 6-8. "David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works." And then Verse 7, "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." Verse 8, "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord, will never count against him." Now that last word, 'count' in verse 8, that's impute. God does impute Christ's righteousness to you. He does not impute your sin. Isn't that incredible? The gift of God, he gives you Christ's righteousness, thinks of you that way, but he does not remember or think about your sin.
And so, you can see now why David or Paul quotes the word three times "blessed." "David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness." And then in Verse 7, "Blessed are they, whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." Verse 8, "Blessed is the one whose sin, the Lord will never count against him." Do you know what blessedness means? It means happy, to the root of your being. Happiness. A blessedness this world cannot give. Total forgiveness of sin. Blessed.
Do you see how beautifully it conforms here, to the same blessedness that Jesus held out for us in the Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are the spiritual beggars, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn over sin, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." We'll get to that later in Romans 4. He's the heir of the world. It's all together. The blessedness of faith in Christ.
The Covering of Our Sin
Now we get to something I've been waiting to share with you all this time. I'm so excited about this. It says in verse 7, "Blessed are they, whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." I want to zero in on that word 'cover.' The word 'cover.' Now usually, I don't like to pronounce Greek words, but the word is 'epicalupto'. If you take the beginning off and you put the word, the prefix 'apo' before, you get the root of our word 'apocalypse', apocalypse. Alright? Well, what is the apocalypse? Revelation, right? It's the unveiling, the removal of a veil. So, if you just take that away, you get 'calupto', which is to veil or cover something, to drape a cloth over something, so you can't see it. 'Calupto' is to remove it. Apocalupto, is to remove/unveil it, so we can see something we didn't see before. In this case, see the glory of Jesus, and we see the future, which we wouldn't have any other way of knowing if God didn't tell us.
But now with this epicalupto, the 'epi' is to intensify. So basically, it's not to remove a veil, it's to cover it and then cover it again. And just cover. Bury, I guess would be a good way to put it. Total coverage. Complete coverage. So, I started to look up this word in the Old Testament and I was amazed by what I saw. Genesis 7:19-20. These verses are printed in your bulletin, if you don't want to look them up. The first use of the word 'covered,' I found, was in Genesis 7. Now what's going on in Genesis 7? Do you remember? I preached on this at the beginning of this year. The flood. Noah's flood. In Genesis 7, we're right in the middle of the flood, aren't we?
And what does it say in Verse 19-20, "The waters rose greatly on the earth and all of the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered." Epicalupto in a Greek translation. Covered, covered. Verse 20, "The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than 20 feet." That's an incredible image. Bring it right to where you live. Romans 5:20 says, "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more." You see what I'm getting at? God knows how to cover things. Give me your highest mountain of sin and I can cover it another 20 feet. I'm good at covering. 20 more feet. Give me your highest mountain. And so you say, "Alright, I'll make it even higher, so we can see just how much grace." Don't think that way. If you think that way, you don't know what grace is all about. We don't sin all the more so that we can get even more coverage. We'll get to that in Romans 6. But the point is, if you have a mountain that needs covering, God knows how to do it, to a depth of 20 feet.
Second use, Exodus 14. Now you remember this story? Moses has just made his way across the Red Sea. You remember? They get to the other side and there was Pharaoh's army. And where were they? They were in the... Their wheels were getting stuck. You remember with the mud? If I were one of Pharaoh's henchmen at this point, I'm thinking, "This is not good. We've just been through 10 plagues and there's water on all sides here, and our chariots are suddenly stuck. And I just noticed that the Hebrews, they're all out now."
I would want to get out as fast as I could. It's too late, it's too late. Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and at daybreak, the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it and the Lord swept them into the sea. Here it is. Verse 28, "The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen. The entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea, not one of them survived." Same word. Alright. Now let me apply it right to your life. Your sins, they pursue you, and they'll pursue you to hell. They're more dangerous to your soul than Pharaoh's army was to the Israelites. And there they are. And God just covers them with his grace. Do you understand the word 'cover'.
Third use, and this is so powerful. Proverbs 28:13, "He who conceals his sin, does not prosper. But whoever confesses and renounce them, will find mercy." Now, where is the word 'cover' in that? Conceal. Remember, I told you this word means to cover. I mean really to cover it, to bury it, deeply. Now what's the context of Romans 4:7-8? You notice in your Bible, if you're looking at Romans 4:7-8, that there's a slight indentation here? You notice how just looks different than the other verses. Why is that? Old Testament quotation, Old Testament quotation, most English Bibles just look different and they'd pull it in, and so it's... You know you are reading a quote. Well, what's the quote? Psalm 32. Well, what is Psalm 32? It is King David's great confession psalm. I believe it's after his sin with Bathsheba. Now I described this to you two weeks ago.
David committed adultery with Bathsheba, tried to cover it up. Do you remember David, the great cover up artist? Bigger cover up than Watergate. He's trying to cover up adultery and so he calls Uriah, Bathsheba's husband back so that he can cover up his sin. Uriah won't do it. So, then he tries cover up plan number two. Get Uriah drunk, maybe he'll go home that night. Doesn't work. So, then he tries cover up plan number three, coldly, cruelly, putting his own death sentence in his own hand and sealing it perhaps with a king's seal. Said, "Take this to Joab, your commander." And you know what's written on that piece of paper? His own death. "Put this man, Uriah, at the hottest part of the battle and pull away from him, so he perishes."
Now, how did David know that Uriah wouldn't read his own death warrant in the king's hand? Because Uriah had proven himself to be a faithful godly man. How cold-hearted was David at this point? "Go ahead, carry this to Joab, give it to him. Don't read it, now." and he didn't read it and he was killed. And so, then David marries Bathsheba, Bathsheba's pregnant. And through all those months until the baby is born, David denies the sin, denies it, denies it, denies it. What is he doing? He's covering the sin, he's covering it, he's submerging and he's burying it inside himself.
And Psalm 32 describes what happened to him. "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him, and in whose spirit is no deceit." You know what deceit is? Lying. He said, "I was lying to myself. I was denying my sin, saying I'm not a sinner. Denying it." And this went on for a long time, maybe as long as a year. because the baby was born, when Nathan came to confront David, the baby was already born. So, you're talking about a year perhaps of denial.
Alright, Verse 3 in Psalm 32, it says, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long I was sick, I felt sick." Verse 4, "For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was sapped as in the heat of summer." There is no health in denying your sin. No health in it. There's spiritual sickness and your strength gets sapped. Proverbs 28:13, "He who covers his sin, conceals a sin, will not prosper." Instead there's a corruption from within.
Let me ask you a question. In that year's time, how many psalms do you think David wrote to add to the psalter? Do you think he wrote any? Do you think he enjoyed his prayer life? Do you think he felt glad to look at the Scriptures, the Law of Moses, all those things that used to bring him such joy? What happened to David's spiritual life during that year? Shriveled up. His strength was gone like in the heat of summer. And then God was gracious to him and sent him Nathan the prophet, and Nathan convicted him of his sin.
In Verse 5, it says, "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I didn't cover it up anymore." There's a long history of us trying to cover up our own sin, isn't it? Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, they tried to cover it up, didn't they? Cain tried to cover up his sin, didn't he? After he killed his brother. That's what we want to do. We want to cover it up. So, I guess the question I want to ask to you today really just comes down to this, just this simple. You are going to sin, I'm going to sin, and when we do, who is going to cover it? There are two choices, and only two. You can cover it yourself or you can let God cover it through the blood of Jesus Christ and through his grace. Who's going to cover your sin?
And what David is saying here, and what Paul is saying through David is, understand and know the blessedness of confessing the sin. When I learned these things, I couldn't wait to go and pray and just try to find things to confess. Anything that I'd done that was displeasing to God because I wanted to be clean and I enjoyed it, because what does it say in Verse 8? "Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against him." Paul actually intensified the language there. David actually just says, "Not... He will not count the sin against." But Paul, that's not enough for him. He's going to intensify it, "Whose sin the Lord will never count against him." It's the same word that Jesus used in Matthew Chapter 5 when he said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Never. And in Hebrews 13, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you." Strong. God will never count your sin against you.
VI. Summary and Application
My application to you is simple. Go home and pray. That's what David says, Psalm 32:6, "Let all those who are godly, let them pray." Go home and just clean yourself out before God. If you're Christian, he will not count your sin against you. Go and do that work. Find it, and spend time, not two minutes. Just, "God, get it out of me. Get it out. Here it is, here's another one." And he will cover it to a depth of 20 feet. Whatever your highest sin mountain is, he'll cover it to a depth of 20 feet. Let's do it. Understand, you're not justified by your works, and God is not surprised by your sin. There is provision for it, and that provision is the blood of Jesus Christ.
Now, if you've never come to personal faith in Christ, can I invite you to know the blessedness that Abraham and David have discovered? The blessedness that he will cover you with a righteousness that is not your own, and that he will never count your sin against you. Come to Christ today. Let's close in prayer.