Romans 4:9-22

“Is this blessedness then upon the circumcision, or also upon the uncircumcision? For we are saying that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.  How then was it reckoned: in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe, though uncircumcised, that righteousness might be accounted to them also; and the father of circumcision to those, not of the circumcision only, but also to those who walk in the footsteps of the faith of our father Abraham while yet uncircumcised. For not through the law was the promise to Abraham or to his seed, that he should be heir of the world, but through the righteousness of faith.

For if they by the law are heirs, faith has been emptied, and the promise has been made nothing, for the law produces wrath; for where no law is, neither is there transgression.

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; that the promise is confirmed to all the seed; not only to those of the law, but also those of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, according as it has been written, “I have appointed you father of many nations”, before Whom he believed – God Who quickens the dead, and calls what is not as though it is – who beyond hope believed in hope, that he became the father of many nations, according what had been declared, “Thus shall be your seed.”

And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body as already having died when he was about an hundred years old, nor the deadening of Sara’s womb. He did not doubt the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully assured that, what He had promised, He was able also to do.  And therefore it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” 

Paul desired his audience to understand that justification before God was never based on the performance of ‘works’, but was always based upon the existence and expression of faith in God. The Jews claim Abraham for their father, and rest in the promises of God to Abraham as their national heritage. Paul demonstrates that Abraham’s heritage was not based upon his actions, as though he had obeyed a law or The Law, but based on his trust in God’s promises – His promise to give him a natural heir despite his advanced age, His promise to make him a ‘father of many nations’ when his body was nearly dead, God’s promise to bless him and to bless the world through not only Abraham, but through his offspring. God’s promises to Abraham were given apart from any law, with no conditions under any law, and Abraham’s faith was expressed before any law had been given. God declared Abraham righteous, not on the basis of any observed rules, but exclusively on the basis of Abraham’s faith: “And [Abraham] trusted YHWH, and He counted it to him for righteousness.” Gen 15:6  Despite every natural reason to think that God’s promise was not only empty but impossible, Abraham did not hesitate at all in believing that what God said, God was able to perform, because God is God, and nothing is impossible to Him, nor does any of His words fail. This absolute, unwavering trust in the God Who spoke was the sole basis of Abraham’s justification by God, and continues to be the sole basis of our justification before God. Every one of us who now receive God’s word in faith because He is God and He has spoken, is a child of Abraham by faith, and we receive the spiritual inheritance of faith that is offered to all who believe God – imputed righteousness to cover our natural sin. 

It is important to remember the beginning of man’s alienation from God. The initial offense began with Eve’s response to the serpent’s accusation, “Yea, hath God truly said…” The serpent proposed that what God had said was false, and Eve received his accusation, not considering that the God Who spoke in the beginning is all truth, and cannot lie. Once Eve decided to believe that what God had said was not trustworthy, her actions followed her faithlessness; she doubted His judgement and followed her own instead. Once God was seen as untrustworthy, the motivation to obey Him was gone, and His word no longer provided that safeguard against temptation. God’s word was now in doubt, God’s character in question. God could not be trusted, therefore man must make his own way. WhenAdam found his wife had disobeyed, he preferred to follow her lead than follow God’s word; he chose death over life with God.

To disbelieve God is to declare Him unworthy; He may be deceitful, He may break His word. He cannot be pure in our eyes, nor just, nor righteous, nor holy, otherwise we would have no grounds to disbelieve Him. Our unbelief by definition impugns the very character of almighty God.

But when we believe Him, despite our natural inclinations or the influences of our peers, we declare Him to be worthy of our trust. We hold Him where only He may reside – above any reproach or doubt, truly, only, and completely God. And He reckons our faith as righteousness.