Justifying the ungodly

As we move into chapter 4 of Romans, Paul is developing his argument that we are all justified by God’s grace through faith. He is clear to clarify that the gospel is not obtained through works, so that no one may boast. Both Abraham, the great Patriarch, and David, the King, are used as examples of how God both credits us with His righteousness and covers over our sins. A true understanding of this amazing doctrine should lift our hearts in worship and set us free to love others unconditionally. By allowing the truth of the gospel to penetrate our hearts we are set free from boasting, from striving, from trying to justify ourselves, and we get to rest in the knowledge that God ‘justifies the ungodly.’

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Romans 4:1-12

Abraham Justified by Faith

4:1 What then shall we say was gained by [1] Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in [2] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. (ESV)

Footnotes

[1] 4:1 Some manuscripts say about
[2] 4:5 Or but trusts; compare verse 24

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

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