Monthly Archives: September 2009

One of my all-time favorite Bible verses is Romans 4:5: “[T]o the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

There’s a lot packed into this short statement. One of its most comforting truths is its emphasis on the kind of person whom God justifies (or declares to be righteous). He doesn’t justify those who are already righteous, but rather those who are “wicked.” Not only that, but it also says that to the one who “does not work but trusts,” his faith is credited as righteousness. The salvation provided by Christ truly is “such a great salvation” (Heb. 2:3) because our own righteousness does not contribute one bit to our acceptance by God. I’m glad it doesn’t because if it did I’d be in deep trouble!

What does this mean for us? It means that we don’t have to—in fact, we shouldn’t—beat ourselves over the head when we commit a sin, trying desperately to work our way back into God’s favor. We are already in his favor because it is his own righteousness he gives to us, as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8-9: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (emphasis added). When he looks at the believer, he doesn’t see our imperfections but rather his own righteousness, Christ’s own obedience whereby he kept the law on behalf of all those who believe in him.

This doesn’t mean that we should not take sin seriously or not be sorrowful when we commit it. We should hate sin and loathe every moment that we fall into it, seeing the terrible price that Christ paid to redeem believers from it. It simply means that we should have the right perspective about how we are accepted by God. It is not on the basis of our goodness because we can never measure up, whether we live to be 1,000 or even 10,000 years old. It is on the basis of Christ’s own perfect righteousness credited to us.

Just a simple—but valuable—reminder of how great salvation through Christ truly is.