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February’s Verse

Evangelist Louis Palau writes: After an evangelistic luncheon, an elderly man slowly walked toward me. He introduced himself as a retired university professor once nominated for a Nobel Prize. As we spoke about God he said, “When I was a boy, I had faith, and then I lost it. Now it's too late. God will never take me back.”

“Professor, why do you say that?”

“Because I am so unworthy, that's why. I'm so unworthy.”

I assured the professor that God could take away his guilt—even 40 years worth.
That’s where this month’s verse comes in. It’s from Romans 4:7, although it is initially found in Psalm 32. David wrote Psalm 32 after committing adultery and murder, and a period of miserable silence when he tried to ignore his past. He writes,

“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.”

‘Blessed’ means happy, thrilled, overjoyed. And here David is exulting in the clean sheet that God has given him. But how does he get to that happy state where the ghosts of the past no longer haunt him, where his past won’t rise up and accuse him?

He admits something we know from our own experience—“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away… my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” Hiding is not the answer. Sin needs to be taken care of. Either God covers it or we cover it up. There's a big difference. As Rudyard Kipling said, “Nothing is ever settled until it's settled right.”

But when God covers it, it's settled forever.

The solution is not to hide, to pretend we are better than we are, but to haul it all out into the open before God. That’s what David did, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Ps 32:3-5)

That’s the pathway to happiness. David found relief and happiness in knowing his transgressions were forgiven, his sins covered, and the Lord did not count his sin against him.

But why does Paul quote these verses in Romans 4? Paul has been speaking about the wonder of the gospel. He has been arguing that sin is not something we atone for by our good works, or by self-punishment—instead it is something God deals with at the Cross and that we accept as a gift.

In Romans 4 he says:
“People are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it:
‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.’”

For troubled souls overwhelmed by their guilt, sin, and failure, few passages in all of Scripture can give peace like this one. Psalm 32 and Romans 4 offer the assurance of forgiveness that is found in Jesus alone.