Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 26

This entry is part 26 of 35 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man,
unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 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 4:6-8). The Lord does not reckon sin, but does reckon
righteousness, to the person whose sins are forgiven. The Lord
reckons, or imputes, sin to the person so long as he is a sinner, and
because he is a sinner. But when his sins are forgiven, the Lord
does not reckon them against him anymore. The forgiven man is
righteous, and hence the Lord imputes, or reckons, righteousness
to him. It has been mistakenly assumed and falsely argued that to
impute a thing to a person is to put to his account something he
does not have, or somewhat more than he has. Some teach that
the righteousness of Christ is imputed, or credited, to the
sinner. This doctrine is entirely without scriptural support. If to
impute means to consider a person somewhat more than he is, or
to credit him with something which belongs to another, then to
impute sin to a person would be to consider him worse than he is,
or to charge to him the sins of another! Righteousness belongs to
character, and is absurd to think that personal righteousness can
be transferred to another. When by the power of the gospel a man
has been made clean and free from sin, God reckons
righteousness to him. Because he is righteous. God does not
pretend that a man is righteous when he is not. The gospel makes
men righteous, just as a soiled garment may be made clean, as
clean as if it had never been soiled, by carrying it through a process
of cleansing. In the same way the gospel takes the sin defiled
person for a process of cleansing that makes him as clean as if he
had never sin.
“Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only,
or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was
reckoned to Abraham for righteousness” (v. 9). Paul uses the terms
circumcision and uncircumcision; the “circumcision” where the Jews
and the “uncircumcision” where the Gentiles. His questions are
equivalent to stating that this blessing may be upon the Gentiles as
well as upon the Jews. There is one thing upon which we all agree –
namely, to Abraham his faith was reckoned for righteousness
based on Genesis 15:6. As Abraham was righteous before he was

required to be circumcised, so might the Gentile, of whom
circumcision had never been required, be righteous without it.
“How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or
in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision” (v.
10). Paul had reminded the Judaizer, a Christian who teach it is
necessary to adopt Jewish customs and practices, that Abraham
was justified without the works of law. Of course, they knew this,
but may not have thought of the bearing it would have on their
position. But now they might reply that he was circumcised. To that
possible objection, Paul replies that he was righteous even before
he was circumcised. Abraham’s case shows that a person who had
not been commanded to be circumcised could be righteous without
it, and every Jew knew that Gentiles had never been commanded
to be circumcised. It was possible, therefore, for them to be
righteous without it.

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