But Paul does not rely upon Genesis 15:6 alone to support his doctrine of righteousness received by gratuitous imputation.  He points to the 32nd psalm, where the same truth is established, albeit stated negatively.  David, in that psalm, describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness without any consideration of his works, by writing, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

David in this psalm is clearly not describing a righteous man who receives a reward because of his own goodness.  The psalm is, in fact, a penitential psalm, perhaps (though it is not definitely stated) written upon the occasion of his sin with Bathsheba.  Be that as it may, the context makes it perfectly clear that David is describing a time when his soul was so oppressed by a sense of his sin, that his moisture was turned into the drought of summer, and he became a perfect picture of misery.  But when he determined to no longer keep silence, but openly and frankly confess his sins before God, he found that God forgave the iniquity of his sin, and received him back into favor.  That is why he cries out at the beginning of the psalm of the blessedness of the man to whom God does not charge his iniquity.

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This is of the utmost importance to Paul’s argument, because he has already proven that both Jew and Gentile are guilty before God, and worthy in themselves of condemnation.  But even in the Old Testament David wrote of some people, inexpressibly blessed, because God would not charge them with the sins they had committed.  These are the very same people who possess the faith of Abraham, a faith which is rewarded by an imputation of righteousness.  This, then, seems to be the apostle’s argument: there are people to whom God, in His grace, refuses to charge their sins against them; rather than giving them their just deserts, He instead receives them because they have trusted in Him, and imputes a righteousness to them which they had no part in working out.  This is proven positively by the statement declaring the imputation of righteousness to Abraham when he believed, and negatively by the fact that God does not impute iniquity to those who are in His favor.  They are not left merely with a blank slate, no longer stained by charges of crime, but the charges of crime are entirely obliterated and replaced by a record of righteousness, which makes them doubly blessed in the eyes of heaven.

 

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