Those To Whom The Lord Will Not Impute Sin...

F or today's study, let us consider a written comment of David, a comment which was quite possibly considered a highly enigmatic statement during the age in which it first appeared; the comment is recorded for us in Psalm 32, it is later 'fleshed out' for us by Paul the Apostle in his highly doctrinally-sensitive Epistle to the Romans.

Let us check this out:

1. Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2).

In this typical Italian renaissance painting, the saints get a halo above their heads representing their holiness. This seems to reflect the Catholic teaching of 'infused' holiness and righteousness - that is, to become righteous is to become righteous as God is righteous; this stands in contradistinction to the Protestant model of forensic, or legally-attributed, righteousness. While we would wish to show all due respect to Catholicism, one has to say that it is the Protestant model which is by far the closest to Paul's very clear New Testament teaching.

Now of course the Hebrews knew all about sin. This was long after the Fall of Man and, by this point, the people of Israel had the record of Moses and the children of Israel before them. As David and the other psalmists wrote, Israel had settled in the Promised Land and the Levitical system of regular animal sacrifices was a fact of life. So sin, and the fact that sin always exacts a price, was, one might say, hardly a surprise - yet now the psalmist started to write about certain individuals whose sins would not be eternally imputed to them. Oh for sure these individuals might well be punished and life would be harder for them because of any such spiritual stumblings, but forgiveness would be assured. Who could these people be? How can this clear biblical teaching be explained?

Okay, now let us turn to Romans, chapter four. Firstly, let us check this out in the KJV where we find that word 'impute':

6. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
7. Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
8. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:6-8).

Now let us look at that text in more modern language:

6. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7. “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
8. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” (Romans 4:6-8, NIV).

22. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
23. The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone,
24. but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (Romans 4:22-24, NIV).

Now David tells us something of the attitude of the people who will be justified by God. Whilst not perfect, they appear to live their lives in a spirit of repentance:

5. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5).

So these are the sort of people who will be justified by God. As we are going to clearly see, these people are not perfect yet they will never attempt to justify themselves, readily throwing themselves upon God's mercy as and when they fall short. In the very same Psalm David tells us a little more about the results of all this:

6. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
7. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
10. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. (Psalm 32:6-10).

Now we need to consult 2 Corinthians 5:21 which tells us more about these people and their status before God:

21. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21).

So we see that an incredible exchange takes place as repentant ones who embrace Christ then have their sins credited to the account of the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for those very sins of the repentant upon the cross. Those people's sins are no longer imputed to them. As a result, they move under the divine umbrella of grace. This is known as the Protestant teaching of imputed, or, forensic righteousness:

14. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
15. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
16. Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17. But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. (Romans 6: 14-17).

So here is a most marvellous thing. Whilst every man and woman on this planet is responsible for their own sins - nothing changes there - there are certain ones who - because of their faithful acceptance of Jesus Christ - are no longer subject to the terrors of the first part of Romans 6:23, as a direct result of the second part of that verse. Let us look at it:

23. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23).

So what Christ accomplished upon the cross, and in His resurrection, results in salvation for those who will faithfully appropriate that sacrifice! There's no 'catch'! It is as sure as tomorrow's sunrise! Unfashionable though it may be in some quarters, we speak here of God's own, or, the 'Elect of God.'

The Precise Theology of Imputation

Okay, so what does "impute" actually mean?

It is to attribute or ascribe something, whether dishonest or dishonourable. Very often - but not always - it is to ascribe a responsibility or a criminal offence to a person.

We might recall the debt of Onesimus. The apostle Paul assumed the debt of Onesimus when he wrote, "if he . . . owes you anything, charge it to my account" (Philemon 18). The same sense of "charge it to my account" is used in the Bible with legal, or forensic, reference to our sin and salvation.

God imputes or accredits the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner even while he is still in his sinning state. "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God has manifested His righteousness apart from the Law, “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Romans 3:21-22). The only foundation upon which God can justify the believing sinner who is still in his sinning state is because this justification is “a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” (Romans 3:24-25).

Either righteousness or sin is to be charged to an individual's eternal personal account: there is no third alternative! Romans 5:12-21 teaches the imputing or charging of Adam’s sin to the entire human race. Please read that Scripture right through. Adam sinned as the head of the human race, therefore God considers all men and women as sinners. We are possessed of Adam’s nature (Romans 5:12-14), and the sentence of death is imposed upon us (Romans 6:23). So the effect of Adam’s fall is universal - it is unavoidable. We are - effectively - all fallen sons and daughters of the First Adam. Today this sort of teaching is unpopular but it is simply what the Bible teaches!

So the guilt and penalty of Adam's sin was directly imputed to his descendents, resulting in death (Romans 5:15, 18, 19; 6:23a). "In Adam all die" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Adam's original act of disobedience has been charged to the whole human race. We all stand guilty in Adam before God. Adam acted on behalf of all humanity.

Fortunately, Romans 5 affirms that just as Adam's act of disobedience brought spiritual ruin for mankind, so Christ's obedient submission to death on the cross brought righteousness and eternal life to all who believe on Him.

Responsibility For Sin is Transferred to Christ our Saviour

In a similar way, the sin of man is imputed to the sinless Saviour, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). God laid on His Son, the Lamb of God, the iniquities of us all (Isaiah. 53:5; John. 1:29; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). So we need to understand that there was a judicial transfer of the sins of man to Jesus Christ, God’s Sin-Bearer.

The sin and guilt of the human race was imputed to the spotless and pure Lamb of God, Jesus Christ when He became the sin offering for the whole world (2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John. 2:2). So Jesus Christ bore the penalty for sin. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Jesus Christ.

Christ was the only person who ever lived on the earth who was sinless and pure. That qualified Him to die as a substitute for sinners.

The imputation of sin to Jesus Christ was, of course, already typified in the Old Testament sacrificial system, where the sins of the offerer were symbolically transferred to the animal victim. The scapegoat of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:20-22) graphically symbolized the transfer of human sin and guilt to the divine substitute. When the high priest laid his hands on the head of the goat and confessed the sins of the people he, in effect, transferred the sins of the people on to the animal (see Leviticus 16:22). The vicarious punishment implies the idea of the imputation of the guilt of our sins to Jesus Christ.

Christ “was pierced through” for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities. The chastening for my well-being fell upon Jesus Christ. By His scourging we are healed (spiritually, of course). “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” (See Isaiah 53:4-6, 12; 1 Peter 2:24-25).

Our sins were imputed to Jesus Christ, and He went to the cross and died as our substitute (Romans 5:6-8). Christ on the cross bore the punishment due to the believer's sins. Again, God made Him to be sin who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28).

God Imputes the Righteousness of Christ to the True Believer

it is important to understand that God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner even while he is still in his sinning state. As a result of His atoning sacrifice, Christ's righteousness is set to the believer's account. The imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the sinner lies at the heart of the Biblical teaching on salvation. “The righteousness of God” is credited to the person who puts his trust in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is the only biblical way in which one may be saved. There is a judicial transfer of the righteousness of God to the believer because there could be no other grounds of acceptance with a righteous God.

God is the author of this righteousness. This is the righteousness which Paul the Apostle writes about:

"More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness" (Philippians 3:8-9, NET translation).

So - for sure - Paul supports what has become known as the Protestant teaching on righteousness and justification because the Catholic view is definitely based on law, even if that 'law' is largely Roman Catholic law!

This is the righteousness which God imputes to the believer in Christ. Thus we "become the righteousness of God" in precisely the same sense in which Christ was "made to be sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). We become the righteousness of God in the same objective sense through the imputation to us of the righteousness of Christ. The guilt of our sin was imputed to Him so that He bore its penalty. It is really very simple as long as one holds on to this principle of the divine exchange which the cross brought about.

Again, let us understand that when the apostle Paul says "faith is reckoned for righteousness" (Romans 4:5), the meaning is not that God accepted Abraham's faith instead of perfect righteousness as the meritorious grounds for his justification, rather, God accepted Abraham because he trusted in God rather than in anything that he could do.The true Christian is saved by free, unmerited grace. Faith is simple trust in the grace of God manifest in Jesus Christ with no claims to merit. It is salvation by pure grace. The believer's sin is covered, and he is counted righteous.

The righteousness of God is imputed to all who believe on Christ so that they may stand before Him in all the perfection of Christ. It is, of course, true that the Christian is not yet perfectly holy or morally righteous; nevertheless, we are justified before the Law of God and are "clothed" with the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Every saved sinner has been “made” the righteousness of God (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:21-23). This imputed righteousness is not something man does or earns. It is not the Catholic sense of "infused" righteousness. Justification and imputation are both forensic (Romans 3:21-5:21).

But Are We Only Justified As Long As We Are 'Good'?

This idea persists among some, and is very popular among Catholics. But this view finds no support in Scripture. If we are justified, then we are justified - end of story! You don't think so? Then do a careful study of Romans 8.

God sees the believer as abiding in His own Son. We have a new identification with Him by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We are members of His body (1 Corinthians 12:13; John 15:1, 5). God sees us “in Christ” and justifies us forever - yes, forever! There is no understanding of grace or Election in the idea that we are only justified while our behaviour is very good or exemplary. Rather, God sees us as clothed in the righteous garments of Christ for Eternity (Isaiah 61:10; Revelation 21:2).

Therefore the disastrous effects of the Fall are effectively reversed for those who believe on Christ. The imputation of human sin to Christ is what makes possible the imputation of His righteousness to every believer.

So Christ is the righteousness of God, and those who believe on Him are made the righteousness of God by being “in Christ.” We are thus complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10); therefore, God the Father sees us perfected forever (Hebrews 10:10, 14). The imputation of Christ's righteousness results in justification before God's supreme court of Heaven and Earth. "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men" (Romans 5:18).

This justification now becomes the believer’s eternal standing before God. Yet, in our daily life, we are far from perfect before God and must “grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.” We are now bondslaves, not of our old Adamic nature, but of the righteousness of God. The Holy Spirit produces God’s righteousness in us. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Imputation, then, is the firm foundation upon which we are justified by grace through faith. We are saved, then, not by our own "righteousness" - which could never measure up - but by Christ's righteousness!

Robin A. Brace, 2011.

In Romans 7, Paul writes at some length about the sins which still beset these people - oh no, they do not suddenly become perfect but now their hearts are, as we say, truly 'right with God.'

14. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
15. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
16. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
17. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
18. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
19. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
20. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
22. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;
23. but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
24. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
25. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

So the New Testament does not preach Perfectionism. The Roman Catholic idea of saints walking around with hands permanently clasped together, wearing an angelic expression and with a halo permanently affixed over their heads finds little biblical support, although renaissance painters certainly loved it. That idea might be said to represent the Catholic teaching of infused rather than imputed or credited righteousness. The idea is that, with the help of the sacraments, believers can literally infuse God's holiness and only then is salvation possible. Protestants, on the other hand, point out that all of God's saved people in Scripture remain imperfect, indeed at times highly imperfect. The Protestant view on this point is forensic, a matter of attributing responsibility. That responsibility, too big for men and women to bear alone, is placed on the ample shoulders of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who has already paid the penalty for those sins. Catholicism, however, teaches that, with the aid of the sacraments, the saints can literally receive an infusion of God's true holiness and righteousness - only by that route is salvation attainable.

We looked at Romans 7 but we never saw the conclusion of Paul's point because that carries over into Romans 8:

1. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2. because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
3. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,
4. in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4).

Christians now walk under grace, the severe penalty of the law no longer hangs over us as we go about our daily business. However, as Paul makes clear, there is no excuse to do evil.

One might say that there appear to be two basic attitudes which one finds among those who gain a knowledge of Christ and the things of God. These two basic attitudes are well illustrated in Luke 18. In this text, Jesus was pointing out how important God views humility among those who know His Name,

10. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.
12. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13. “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14. “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14).

If we are going to be perfectly honest about this we really must concede that most religionists, yes I speak of Christian religionists here, would sooner identify with the Pharisee in prayer rather than the tax collector. Yet Christ always has the capacity to surprise us and to challenge us! Christians should not be going around priding themselves on their "righteousness," rather, our attitude should be, 'Lord, I remain a useless sinner, please be merciful!'

It should not, therefore, surprise us that when the Bible gives us examples - and there are numerous examples - of those 'called and chosen' ones who stand under God's grace, these men and women are not perfect and, one finds, they are only too aware of that fact.

Our Biblical Examples

Now, David, imperfect that He was, is possibly the major Grace-Covered example which the Bible offers us. A careful study of the life of David reveals how God works with His 'called and chosen.' He is not the only one, Samson too had a heart which was right with God. He was covered by grace despite his sometimes amazing excesses.
Such examples start to show us that the man or woman who is covered by God's grace may still have a few dreadful flaws. In short, the biblical example of a grace-covered true believer is not synonymous with the Catholic 'utter piety of the saint' sinlessness concept. For sure, there are and always have been such exceptional individuals around but they are not examples of "true sinlessness," a state which does not exist for people whilst in the physical, human state. True, deep piety may indeed exist but, if we are going to take the entirety of Scripture into account, we should not expect to find it too often nor indeed to think that only such individuals may be 'grace-covered.'

Not only are we are given examples like David to consider, but even such men as Paul and Peter, while certainly truly upstanding in the Faith, were obviously not always easy to get along with and certainly not examples of the Catholic idea of "utter and submissive piety." Truth is: the majority of individuals whom Our Lord has worked with over the ages have been 'rough-hewn' indeed! If any should challenge that, I can point to countless biblical exaples!

Examples From the Life Of David

We will look at three examples. The somewhat timid reader should be warned: there is some 'strong meat' here!

1. David Took the Shewbread.

1. One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.
2. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
3. Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?
4. He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” (Luke 6:1-4, NIV).

The table of shewbread was a small table made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. It measured 3 feet by 1.5 feet and was 2 feet, 3 inches high. It stood on the right side of the Holy Place across from the lampstand and held 12 loaves of bread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The priests baked the bread with fine flour and it remained on the table before the Lord for a week; every Sabbath day the priests would remove it and eat it in the Holy Place, then put fresh bread on the table. Now carefully mark the following:

Only priests could eat the bread, and it could only be eaten in the Holy Place, because it was holy. For any others to eat this shewbread was a most serious offence under the laws of the Levitical priesthhood.

So - let us be clear: David clearly broke Old Covenant Levitical law in this episode. David and his companions ate some of this bread when they were hungry, totally non-permissible under the law. David, to say nothing of his men, did not qualify to even touch this bread, yet Jesus said it was perfectly fine for them to do so. How can such a thing be? Because David is typical of God's 'own.' David was not perfect but he stood under the divine umbrella of grace; he was truly 'called and chosen' by God and, though God still punished him when he did wrong, it was not even possible for such a one to be rejected by God. Our God never turns His back on His own children!

2. David Had Bathsheba's Husband Killed.

Read through 2 Samuel 11-12 to find the full account. I am not going to go through the relevant Scriptures in detail here because we all know the story so well. Bathsheba was apparently one of those stunningly beautiful women that one sometimes encounters; if we men are going to be scrupulously honest, we do sometimes encounter such ladies. Bathsheba, however, was married to Uriah. David commited adultery with her, then, since Israel was currently fighting a war with her enemies, he had Bathsheba's husband placed in the hottest part of the fighting. He knew that Uriah would probably be killed, and he was killed. This was a most wicked and selfish act by David. Since the death occurred in warfare and, undoubtedly, Uriah was not the only man of Israel who died that day, it was probably not really murder but it was a most malicious form of manslaughter. God held him accountable and sent Nathan the Prophet to confront him. So, of course, David was punished for this action. The child borne as a result of this adultery died and David was punished in other ways too. Even so, and let us all mark this fact, David remained under the grace of God. God had no intention of blotting David out of His plans. Some have been stunned by this and have even accused God of 'favouritism' but God certainly severely punished David. The message is that, though we may backslide for a period of time, God still holds on to His 'called and chosen.' Yes, I realise that some believers are very ill at ease at this episode but while Scripture never attempts to 'gloss over' David's sin, it always makes clear that God's 'called and chosen' will remain on course - yes, even when that backsliding phase is so serious.

3. David (very probably, but not certainly) Had a Homosexual Love Affair with Jonathan.

Some might be shocked by this but, look, I spent years attempting to deny this but, in the final analysis, Scripture is pretty open and clear about this - I now feel that I should no longer attempt to deny what Scripture is pretty much clear about! To say that the strong love between David and Jonathan was "just good brotherly love," as evangelicals nearly always say, is to deny the relevant Old Testament texts. Now both David and Jonathan loved women, obviously David especially so, yet - at a period of time when David probably had no access to his wives because of Saul's ongoing persecution - he turned to the love of Jonathan. The surprising thing is that Scripture refuses to condemn David and Jonathan for their love affair; Saul certainly did condemn, of course. I started to confront this somewhat uncomfortable matter in an article which I wrote around a year ago and I now quote from that:

' insist that this was "just brotherly love," clearly turns the Scripture on its head; if their huge affection for each other was "just brotherly love," why would Scripture record the following:

"I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." (2 Samuel 1:26).

If the Scripture is prepared to openly admit that the love between this pair, "was wonderful, passing the love of women," why do a few resolutely claim that this was just good, strong, brotherly love?? The Scripture itself seems utterly clear that this went beyond brotherly love! Surely we must all admit that there was an element of passion in this love! Even from the beginning of their friendship, that passion seems to have been present,

"That same day, when Saul had finished speaking with David, he kept him and would not let him return any more to his father's house, for he saw that Jonathan had given his heart to David and had grown to love him as himself. So Jonathan and David made a solemn compact because they loved the other as dearly as himself. And Jonathan stripped off the cloak he was wearing and his tunic, and gave them to David, together with his sword, his bow, and his belt." (1 Samuel 18:1-4).

While we all understand that Saul was bitterly jealous of David, we cannot deny that one particular reproach from Saul to Jonathan does sound something like a father's reproach for a son who has embarked upon a somewhat dubious relationship,

And Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own confusion, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? (1 Samuel 20:30).

The "choosing" (Hb: bahar) may indicate a permanent choice and firm relationship, and the mention of "nakedness" (Hb: erwa) could be interpreted to convey a negative sexual nuance, giving the impression that Saul saw something sexually indecent in Jonathan's and David's relationship. Moreover, "confusion" (Hb: bo-sheth) has regard to shame or idolatrous confusion. Of course, Saul might have suggested this only in order to hurt and injure Jonathan, yet this verse might be considered as pretty good evidence (even if not finally conclusive), of what Saul was inferring, even if his inference was groundless. (the entire article is here).

While it would certainly appear that David and Jonathan came together at a time when David, and very likely Jonathan too, were cut off from the love of their women, Scripture does seem to suggest that their love affair was of such a strong nature that it would have occurred anyway. Let us repeat: there was real passion between David and Jonathan, a passion which exceeded their passion for their women. Was that passion consummated in any physical acts of a sexual nature? I don't know and neither do you.

Now, the point is: God forgave David for what one must consider - under all the circumstances - to be a very unwise liaison, if not a sexually somewhat deviant one. Again, David remained on course as a man who, without question, is saved. The message? God will not give up on His people! Yet can we seriously picture David walking around in the Italian renaissance style, that is, with hands clasped together and with an ever-present halo over his head?? I don't think so. As already stated, some of these men of God were rough-hewn indeed!

Sometimes people have said to me, "How can I ever become a Christian when I have done some bad things in my life (and, very often, some wicked deeds are then listed)?" The irony is that those deeds are usually less evil than certain things which David did and we know that David is saved. The message in all of this is that the biblical accounts of those who are saved reveals them to be often tough and hard-chiselled, although also people of strong love, commitment and with a rare passion for justice and for honouring God. Both Catholicism and renaissance painters have tended to encourage a view of the saints of God as individuals who are somewhat watery, weak, unassuming and overly-compliant. The view is also that such people are highly religious in a manner which would be more appealing to the Pharisees than to Jesus. Fact is: Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their showy religiosity! Yet Christendom has tended to encourage the view that Christianity is almost synonymous with religiosity; fact is, it is not.

Without question if you and I seek to be numbered among the saints we need to have embarked upon a truly close walk with God, yes, we need to be continually striving to put all our sins and weaknesses behind us, nevertheless, we will certainly stumble from time to time; our study has shown us that God has placed us under His grace and that His grace is of the strength of steel and iron! So, in our strivings, none of us should ever doubt His ongoing commitment to His 'called and chosen.'

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
12. in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
13. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14. who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14).

'Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.' (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

38. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39).

Robin A. Brace. January 12th, 2011.