“Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” —Romans 4:8
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (Romans 4:6). After having given proof of Abraham’s justification by grace through faith, the apostle gives an illustration of another prominent figure in the history of Israel: David the king. Abraham was called the friend of God. David was called a man after God’s own heart.
The word “impute” here (and also in v8) is the same Greek root, λογιζομαι (logizomai), for the word “counted” in vv4 and 6, as well as the word “reckoned” in v5. It means “to consider, deem, judge, determine,” “to take or make account of,” “to place upon one’s credit.”
As Paul just presented scripture concerning the life of Abraham with one side of imputation in justification, —that is, Abraham being considered righteous through faith, —Paul presents another aspect of imputation in justification: —that is of David being forgiven through faith.
“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:7-8). In these verses, Paul quotes Psalms 32:1-2,
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”
This instructive poem of David is an excellent selection to allow us to see the grace of God to forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin regardless of the sin committed. For if the apostle Paul had quoted from Psalms 51, the psalm that David had written in repentance because God had confronted him through Nathan the prophet concerning his covetousness, adultery, murder, and deceitful cover-up, we might have room to say, “Well that doesn’t apply to me because I’ve never done anything like that.” Yet, the Holy Spirit directs the heart and mind of Paul to quote Psalms 32:1-2 in order to present man’s depravity through original sin; man’s state of fallen-ness since Adam’s initial disobedience.
David, though a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), was full of many faults through the sinful corruption of flesh. As king, David violated the command of God for a king by multiplying wives to himself (Deuteronomy 17:17). He acted foolishly and presumptuously, and so his life reflected a blessedness, not because of his works, but by God’s justification by grace through faith.
Sometimes we tend to look at these “great heroes of the faith” and make them out to be more than the mere sinners they are. They were used mightily for God’s glory and the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom only by God’s grace alone.
Therefore, this blessing is to us and for us. It is for those whom God has justified through faith in His only Son, Jesus Christ.
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalms 32:1). A person is happily blessed because God has cast away (lifted up, נשא) his sin (rebellion, פשע), and covered his sin (חטאה) like the flood waters during the days of Noah (covered, as in Genesis 7:19-20 where כסה is used). “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12).
“Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psalms 32:2). A man is happily blessed whose iniquity (עון) is not imputed, counted, reckoned (חשב) by YHVH. Another reason that this passage is selected is because the first use of the word in the Bible, יחשב (imputeth) comes from Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Therefore, the questions that we must ask are: “Am I the blessed man? Am I the blessed woman? Has God counted me righteous for Jesus Christ’s sake? Has God counted me forgiven for Jesus Christ’s sake.”
When the proclamation of the gospel is attended in your regular worship services, do the words “impute” and “imputation” rarely ring in your ears? Imputation is a marvelous word, an awesome word, and should bring us joy in every moment of meditation and every waking submission in wonderful worship of Jesus Christ.
Are you a minister who has been shy to utter the word “impute,” “imputed,” or “imputation” because your hearer may not know or understand what is being said? Then, may I encourage you dear pastor, preacher, proclaimer of the gospel, tell your hearer what it means. May that blessed word never be divorced from the truth of justification by faith, nor from the glories of the gospel of Christ crucified.
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Read the previous article in this series, “Justification by Grace” (Romans 4:1-5).