The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 139 of 181
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So here, in Romans apparently, we find God doing what He absolutely prohibited!
Yet God's way of justifying a sinner is such that His own holy character is untarnished.
He can be "just" and yet the "justifier of him who believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3: 23-26),
for, as we have seen, He, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, has paid the penalty for
the sins of the believer. For He was made sin for us Who Himself had no sin, that we
might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor. 5: 20, 21).
The force of the verses quoted above from the O.T. clearly indicate that "to justify" is
a forensic term, a term from the law-court, which does not mean to make perfect or holy,
but "to acquit" as innocent.
The Apostle now introduces David as a further example:
"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"
(4: 6-8).
The conclusion to be drawn from this is,  "the counting of righteousness"  is
equivalent to "the not-counting of sin". What a joy and relief this was to David as the
Psalm which he wrote testifies and from which this quotation is made (Psa. 32:).
David had grievously sinned, but he was dealing with a merciful God Who would cover
and put away his sins on the basis of the future sacrifice of Christ (Rom. 3: 24, 25). No
wonder he finished that Psalm by saying:
"Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are
upright in heart" (Psa. 32: 11).
Paul now deals with the question as to whether this glorious forgiveness and acquittal
was the privilege of the Jew only. Could it extend to the Gentile?
"Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision (Jew) only, or upon the
uncircumcision (Gentile) also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for
righteousness.  How was it then reckoned?  When he was in circumcision or in
uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision" (Rom. 4: 9, 10).
The answer to the query of verse 9 is settled by noting Abraham's condition when he
was justified by faith. Was he circumcised then or uncircumcised? Again the answer is
clear. The circumcision of Abraham does not take place until Gen. 17:, at least
fourteen years later, and then it was only an external seal of that righteous status which
God had given him long before, by virtue of his faith. Abraham was a Gentile when he
was justified by faith! Thus it is that he could be the true father of all, whether Jew or
Gentile, who trust God and take Him at His Word.
The rite of circumcision or its absence is irrelevant to a man's status before God as a
"And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of
the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them