The Blessedness Of The Forgiven
Sin Covered

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 17b of 83

“…Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. …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 4:1-8)

[The apostle was building a case for the doctrine of Justification by grace through faith in the first 3 chapters of Romans by showing that all without exception fall short of the glory of God and cannot find acceptance with God through good works. In chapter 4, he proceeds to prove that this doctrine is not a new invention. Abraham was justified by faith, and so was David. David in particular spoke of the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (v. 6). Paul is not here quoting David. He is, rather, paraphrasing and expounding his words. But he goes on (in verses 7-8) to quote exactly what David says to prove his point. In our previous instalment of this study, we consider the words “Blessed is he whose iniquities are forgiven.” In this second instalment, we must consider the words “Blessed are they… whose sins are covered.” —JJL]

2.   Blessed are They Whose
Sins are Covered

a. “Blessed are they … whose sins are covered,” says David. The word ‘covered’ as used here (ejpikaluvptw, epikaluptō), occurs only once in the New Testament. It means “to cover over.” The Hebrew from which it is translated from (hs;K;, kâsah), may also be rendered “conceal” or “hide.”

Sin is a shameful thing. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they began to cover themselves up with fig leaves. And when they heard the voice of God walking in the garden, they immediately hid themselves.

It was as if sin had covered their bodies with leprous scabs and putrefying sores. So they were ashamed to show themselves to anyone. They even tried to hide themselves from God. But God is all-seeing and all-knowing. We can hide from men, but from God?

So Solomon says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Prov 28:13). Sin will always haunt the sinner. His guilty conscience will nag at him and inflict pain in his soul. Yes, today, he may muffle the voice of his conscience and try to ignore it. But one day God will set his conscience free from all attempts to silence it. Then for all eternity, it will torment the sinner. And not only so, but he will face the wrath of God, from whose eyes, nothing is hid. For in that great day of judgement, “there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known” (Lk 12:2).

But thanks be to God that they whose sins are forgiven have their sins covered not by themselves but by God himself. “Blessed are they… whose sins are covered,” says David. For Adam and Eve, this act of God was symbolised by His making coats of animal skin for them. Their sins were covered.

The patriarch Job gives us another good illustration of what the Lord does with our sin. He says: “My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity” (Job 14:17). That is: my sins are stuffed into a bag, and this bag has been sewn shut. My sin has been concealed. God will not look at it anymore. Neither will He pull it out, for He has sealed the bag with a permanent seal. He has sewn it shut.

b. But what does it mean to have our sins covered? Surely it does not only mean that it is hidden from view. No, no; nothing can be hid from God’s eyes. Surely it is not a reality that our sins are sealed in a bag. No; that is a metaphor. It shows us that God will no longer bring to remembrance our sin. He will forgive and forget. But how is that done in reality? How could God forgive and forget? How can God forget anything?

Can a righteous judge simply cover up a crime and forget about it? No, no; God would be unrighteous if He simply covers up our sin. How then is our sin covered?

Prof Hoeksema suggests a way to think about it, which I think is very apt.  Think about an insurance cover. Our sins are covered in the sense that insurance covers the damage.

You have blasphemed God’s name. You bear His image but violated it by sin and rebellion. The penalty for the damage is eternal death. You cannot pay for it. You have nothing with which to pay for it. A billion years in hell cannot pay for it.

But thank God, those who are forgiven, have something to pay for the damage. They have an insurance cover. It is a cover provided by God’s own insurance agency. This agency offers only one insurance plan. And the rule is that you can be a policy-holder only if God, the head of the agency chooses you to be a member of the plan.

You have done damage. You have violated God’s law. But thank God you have an insurance cover. God does not require payment from you because you are a policy-holder. The plan for this policy was established in eternity. We became members of this plan when God engrafts us into it by a living faith. By this faith, we acknowledge that we have done damage. In other insurance policies you cannot join if you have something outstanding for which you can make an immediate claim. Not so with God’s policy. In God’s policy all who join have an immediate claim.

What is the policy statement of this insurance cover? It is the Word of God. What is the coverage? It is the righteousness of God. And it comes with a rider: reconciliation with God or eternal life. What is the premium of this policy? It is free to you. But it costs the blood of Christ. You are covered by the blood of Christ!

c.   “Blessed are they … whose sins are covered.” Dear reader, are your sins covered? How is it covered? It is covered with fig leaves? Or is it covered with the blood of Christ.

Remember, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov 28:13). Only such as would not hid their sin, but confess that they are ungodly will know the blessedness of having their sins covered in the blood of Christ! God justifies the ungodly (v. 5), not the self-righteous. The Lord Jesus himself says: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mk 2:17b).

Thank God that as an ungodly people, we can be justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. The puritan preacher Henry Smith puts it most beautifully when he says:

[Christ] hideth unrighteousness with His righteousness, He covereth our disobedience with His obedience, He shadoweth our death with His death, that the wrath of God cannot find us.

Is there no reason to be blessed? Thank God that because of what Christ has done, we need no more depend on our effort to please God by good works. We have peace with God in Christ! We can live as sons and daughters of the Father rather than as those who have done damage expecting to be pursued

…to be Continued Next Issue

JJ Lim