Romans 4 is an explosive passage of Scripture. It oozes good news. Romans 3 paints a bleak picture for us all. Paul tells us we are all rushing forward to one inescapable moment—-the day we stand before our Creator face to face. A day “appointed” according to the writer of Hebrews. A day of accountability for our every word, thought, action and motive.
This is a day that Paul tells us is terrifying—because left to ourselves there is no hope. Romans 3 states emphatically that no one is righteous, not even one—there no exceptions. You and I are in the same boat—and that boat is sinking rapidly. Apart from Christ all humanity stands condemned before God and hopeless before him as Judge.
This hopelessness is highlighted by the fact that we cannot through our own energy or activity make ourselves right with our Creator. We have broken his moral expectations and commands—and that we cannot repair. No amount of striving can change it. It is into this helplessness and hopelessness that Romans 4 speaks.
“For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness”
To the “none righteous” God provides a perfect righteousness through his Son Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection secure forgiveness and a right standing with the Father that comes to the one “who does not work” but rather believes and rests in his good work. This is good news.
God describes himself in an astonishing way in this passage. He puts a name tag on his chest that is unbelievable. He is the justifier of the ungodly, that’s who he is—this is his title, his name…it’s what he does! Ungodly is a term that denotes one who refuses to worship. God comes for this person—the sinner, the sick, the broken, the rebel.
In fact, there is only one type of individual who will be considered righteous in God’s courtroom—the one who is ungodly and does nothing, but receives God’s gift by faith! The only thing I contributed to my justification was my sin. My ungodliness is all I brought to the table. The God who Justifies the Ungodly is worthy of fierce loyalty and worship, there is none like him!