Summary: Have you ever run into the religiously righteous crowd who thought they had a little somethin, somethin extra? Well, in Romans chapter 4 the Apostle Paul is dealing with the same type of folks.
“How dangerous it is to join anything of our own [works] to the righteousness of Christ, in pursuit of justification before God! Jesus Christ will never endure this; it reflects upon His work dishonorably” (Flavel, John).
JUST WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION?
It is a legal term, used to describe the process of our salvation (the saving of man from the power and effects of sin).
Some COMPONENTS of justification:
- It is a divine act of God.
- It involves a declaration of innocence (or pardon) from all sin; yet, not sinlessness!
- The result of God’s divine act; and declaration of innocence is what is known to be RIGHTEOUSNESS.
- THEREFORE: Justification is GOD’S FORGIVENESS of SIN; and, an IMPUTATION (to credit or ascribe) of Christ’s RIGHTEOUSNESS, into the believers account.
Paul C. Brownlow describes it like this: “In the most lopsided deal of all time, Jesus took our filthy rags of sin and gave us His robe of righteousness. Our righteousness is not our own, it is from Him. Dare we brag of our goodness now? (Brownlow).
Have you ever run into the religiously righteous crowd who thought they had a little somethin, somethin extra? Well, in Romans chapter 4 the Apostle Paul is dealing with the same type, “religious Jews” who placed heavy reliance upon the fact that they were pure/direct descendants to Abraham (the somethin, somethin part).
THEREFORE: The key idea or concept of Romans 4 is that of JUSTIFICATION:
EVER WONDERED: How do we become LEGALLY DECLARED right (perfect) before a Holy God?
In ROMANS 4, Paul is giving his readers a threefold reason of WHY we have a DEPENDENCY on God for our JUSTIFICATION before Him:
1) JUSTIFICATION IS BY FAITH NOT WORKS (4:1-8)- This morning!
2) JUSTIFICATION IS BY FAITH NOT THE LAW (4:9-17)
3) JUSTIFICATION IS BY RESURRECTION POWER NOT HUMAN EFFORT (4:18-25)
I) JUSTIFICATION IS BY FAITH NOT WORKS (4:1-8)
In this portion of Scripture Paul uses the examples of two highly esteemed Hebrews:
Abraham (Romans 4:1-5) - The Father of the Hebrew race.
Paul notes, Abraham was justified by faith (belief) (not works) and it was before the Mosaic Law ever existed. (Abraham was actually a Gentile at this time).
David- One of Israel’s greatest kings
Paul notes: David was justified by faith (not works) and it was while he was under the Mosaic Law.
I) JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
A. ABRAHAM (1-5)
VS 1: What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
Paul is saying, what can we say about the fleshly/earthy Abraham? His heritage!
VS 2: For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
FOR IF: Abraham was justified (made legally right before God) (by self-works) he had no need to glorify God.
Notice when folks try to attach a self-justifying work for legal justification before God; they are saying THEY did it ALL BY THEMSELVES and EXCLUDING the WORK OF CHRIST on the cross and the SHED BLOOD for remission of sin.
- Ever heard that popular song! I did it my way?
A.W. Tozer notes, “Self is the opaque [impenetrable to light] veil that hides the face of God from us. . .” (Tozer).
VS 3: For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
PAUL GOES TO THE AUTHORITATIVE SCRIPTURE: For what saith the SCRIPTURE (Gen. 15:6: And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.)
Notice first it is attributed to God…. “Abraham believed God”
Second, “it was counted” – COUNTED was “a bookkeeping term used in ancient bookkeeping document for crediting payment to ones account” (Keener, 422).
- So it was COUNTED (or crediting to him as RIGHTEOUSNESS).
VS4: Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
If JUSTIFICATION is achieved by self-work it is credited that way (as a debt or something owed to this person.) IF it is owed then the idea of GRACE (God’s Redemption at Christ’s Expense) is abolished (done away with).
A Good example of this is a work employee. He expects to receive a payment for his work. It is something that is OWED to him and therefore no longer an act of graciousness or GRACE.
VS 5: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
BUT: to him that does not self-work for justification BUT believes on Him (God) who does JUSTIFY that it is an act of GRACE (void of self-meriting work) and RIGHTEOUSNESS is the imputed product.