Punished Fourfold, But Saved
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 46 Holman Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the man to
whom God credits righteousness apart from works.
Paul had used Abraham as a witness in behalf of justification by faith (43). Now David is called to testify. The name of David, Israels most honored king, would carry much clout with the Jews.
What did the sweet Psalmist of Israel think about a sinners condition How did he perceive the way God deals with sin and sinners He understood the blessed person was the one who received righteousness apart from works.
David did not pronounce a blessing on those who try to earn their salvation. Self-righteous Pharisees were left out. The blessing falls on those who recognize they are lawbreakers, not on those who claim to be law keepers.
Here is the key to true blessedness accept Gods verdict we are sinful once we trust Jesus, accept the verdict we are saved. If we place our trust in Christ for salvation, the Bible assures us we are saved. Gods righteousness belongs to us.
This is a benefit we can know we possess. What would be the value in having an unknown benefit We can know it is so, and have it as a ground of comfort.
After I preached a strong message on justification by faith one Sunday, a dear lady shared with me her story. For 30 years she belonged to a denomination that did not preach justification by faith. All those years she did good deeds hoping, in the end, to earn salvation. One problem with such doctrine is there is always an element of doubt in it. One can never know when enough good deeds are done. This lady said she could never be sure of her salvation under those conditions. She became convinced something was lacking in her spiritual life. She went to hear a Baptist preacher, listened as he spoke on salvation by grace through faith, and her heart immediately found a home. She found a peace in finally finding Biblical and genuine assurance regarding the certainty of a believers salvation.
Yes, we can know for sure we are saved, but such assurance comes only through the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith.
Romans 47a How happy those whose lawless acts are forgiven. . .
These words are from Psalm 32. David knew how sweet it was to be pardoned. He had felt the bitterness of sin deeply and darkly in his own life. The happiest, most blessed state would of course be sinlessness, innocent perfection. But we cant attain to that. Hence, we seek the next most blessed condition–sin forgiven by repentance.
There is no greater relief than to know ones own sins have been forgiven. Nothing in the world compares to being right with God. True delight consists not in beauty, fame, glamor, honor, riches, power, but rather in the forgiveness of our sins. Even if poor, sick, or downtrodden, a person can rejoice in this–his sins are forgiven.
Forgiven refers to a burden that has been lifted and sent away. In earthly legal systems, when a man is proven guilty of a crime, the authorities send him away.
But for the repentant sinner, God sends away the iniquity rather than sending away the person. Instead, the person is kept in a place of security and blessedness.
God not only removes the sin–a hardhearted judge could do the same if a willing substitute were available. God removes the sin and also throws His arms around the sinner in love. Jesus clutches the forgiven sinner to His bosom.
The very hand of God that chastened the sinner, and then cast away the sin, suddenly cups itself into a hollow where the penitent finds refuge. Dear believers, we are blessed We are sons and daughters of the King, joint-heirs with Christ.
What a blessed privilege–to be allowed to start all over again, to receive a fresh new start. What would a convicted 30-year-old criminal give to have the chance to start all over again It cannot happen in our courts. The criminal record remains forever. But with God, we can begin anew and afresh every day.
Lost friend, if you will repent and turn from sin, God will let you begin anew. He will wash you white as snow. It is such a drastic new beginning that Jesus described it as being born again.
Romans 47b . . .and whose sins are covered
Covered as a debt we were unable to pay, and taken care of by someone else. Covered, as an object too horrible for God to look on. Covered, as something that leaves us ashamed before God.
Sin is a filthy thing that embarrasses our spirits before God. Sinners usually realize they need to have their sins covered, but they try to cover it in the wrong way.
There is a human covering of sin that results in a curse. This consists in confessing it not, denying it, trying to hide or rationalize it. This effort to hide sin out of sight without sending it away can never bring blessedness. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy (PR 2813). The key to deliverance is confessing and forsaking sin. Your sin must be cast away, thrown onto an old rugged cross for guilt to be rightly covered.
Do not try to cloak sin or conceal it, as David did (PS 323-4). As long as he hid his sin, his bones waxed old, and his inner moisture dried up. It ate away at his insides. His inner strength was dissipated as his conscience devoured him.
Sin is too big a stain for us to handle by ourselves. The garments of nakedness are too short and cannot cover us. We must borrow adequate covering from Jesus.
Only His blood can suffice to cover the stain. This is why we will wear robes in Heaven to remind us our righteousness was not something inherent within us, but rather something we received from Another, and put on as a gift.
Romans 48 How happy the man whom the Lord will never charge with sin
Blessed is the person from whom the Lord will not require all their sin deserves. Sin cries out for condemnation. No sooner had Adam eaten of the fruit than he felt naked, hid himself, heard the curse, and saw the flaming sword. Sin makes us guilty. Sin deserves eternal death, but for the believer, the sentence is not carried out. The everlasting damnation is removed.
Sin is always punished in unbelievers and chastened in believers. But its everlasting consequences can be abated. The repentant sinner falls into the hand of God deserving to die. But Jesus gives instead everlasting life.
This is well illustrated by David himself. He defiled Bathsheba, and murdered Uriah the Hittite. David tried to hide it, but Nathan came to rebuke the king. The prophet told of a rich man who stole a poor mans only possession–one little lamb.
In a rage, David passed this verdict–the rich man must repay the evil fourfold. David uttered his own punishment. He had to be chastened, and he was, fourfold, just as he had spoken. He paid four times for Uriahs blood one, Bathshebas baby boy died two, first-born Amnon was killed three, handsome Absalom died in rebellion four, Adonijah was executed. God allowed four sons of David to be smitten.
The sin with Bathsheba was terrible. Had God based salvation on works, David would have never made it. However, forgiveness and mercy flowed alongside the chastening and softened it. God let Bathsheba bear the beloved son, Solomon. Also, the Lord placed her in the genealogy of Christ. And David himself was called a man after Gods own heart. God forgave David, but only because of grace.
David is in heaven now solely due to repentance and faith. He, too, was a sinner whose only hope was to trust in the Lord for righteousness without works. He knew this was the case. That is why he wrote the words of our text.
Friend, you can be saved right now. The path you are treading to destruction can be changed into a highway to Heaven. Your Hell can be changed to Heaven.
The hill of Calvary is your hill of comfort. The house of consolation is built of wood from the cross. Where agony climaxed, there a soul can find its highest delight.
Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling.
When from the dust of death I rise, To claim my mansion in the skies,
This only then shall be my plea, Jesus lived and died for me.
We cannot do anything to earn salvation. If we had a thousand years, our condition would only get worse, not better. Our only hope is salvation given as a gift by God.