Sample Two—Excerpt from Chapter Four of Real Grace for Real People
The Bible links faith with righteousness, and works done without faith—without God's help—with sin. How far does the gospel go? Verses 6-8 suggest very far! This passage talks about sin. Blessed is the man to whom God will not impute sin, to whom is sin not imputed/counted/reckoned? To one who has truly repented and truly sought for pardon, God truly pardons. The man to whom sin is not imputed is the man from whom sin has been removed. Only God can remove sin.
Notice in verse seven that the one is blessed “whose iniquities are forgiven.” That word “forgiven” literally means to leave-off completely. In Romans 1:27 this same word is translated “leaving.” The scripture is saying, “Blessed is the man whose sins have been left behind.”
The same word is used in 1 Corinthians 7:11-13 where it is translated “let not the husband put away his wife.” So scripture says,“Blessed is the man whose sins have been put away.” Let me ask you then, which is more blessed—to have your sins counted as if put away, or to experience their actual removal?
Hebrew expression commonly uses parallelism and expansion. An idea will be stated and then restated with nuanced variation, deepening and extending the meaning of the text. And so this verse says, “Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven [that is, put away, entirely left behind], and whose sins are covered.” What does this word “covered” mean?
It is a quotation straight from Psalm 32:1, 2: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”
Who is the blessed man? The man “whose transgression is forgiven”; the man “whose sin is covered”; “the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity.” Everyone will agree to those. But will you go all the way with God and admit the next specification—that the blessed man to whom the Lord no longer imputes sin is the man “in whose spirit there is no guile”—is equally true? That is what the Bible says. (See also texts such as Isaiah 53:9; Zephaniah 3:13; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; Revelation 14:5.)
How well all of this agrees with Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” The person trying to cover his own sins is trying not only to keep them hidden, but also to keep them. However, he who confesses and forsakes, that is, who puts away, who leaves behind his sins, is the one blessed, experiencing the powerful mercy of whole forgiveness.
Isaiah agrees. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Heaven's pardon is larger than we have thought. Put very simply, just as real as is the sin is the real removal of sin. The sin does not remain—it is not covered up. It is removed. In the heart of this person “is no guile.” Can you begin to see that the “imputing,” the “counting,” and the “reckoning” we here speak of is no whitewash, but a washing-white? The gospel deals not with narrow legalities, but regenerative realities. What a salvation this is! How God is against sin! How dangerous it is! Do not play with it; it will destroy you. God pleads with His children: remove yourselves from these things. He calls out to us to turn and live.Reader, by now I hope we realize the real truth about justification more clearly. Justification is nowhere limited to an external covering that whitewashes sin. It is no velvety comforter in transgression. Justification is the creation, in actuality, of a just person. God's changes are real; His Spirit embosses truth upon the inmost soul; His work is always more than a theological tattoo. When we allow Him, God reaches in and makes a change. He removes the sin completely.