Bought by the Blood

July 23, 2009

Martin Luther on Imputed Righteousness

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; – Romans 4:7

Believers inwardly are always sinners; therefore they are always justified from without.  The hypocrites, on the other hand, are alway righteous inwardly; therefore they are always sinners from without.  By ‘inwardly’ I mean, as we appear before judgment and opinion; by from ‘without,’ as we appear before God and His judgment.  We are righteous ‘outside ourselves’ when our righteousness does not flow from our works; but is ours alone by divine imputation.  Such imputation, however, is not merited by us, nor does it lie with our power, as the prophet says in Hosea 13:9: ‘O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.’ Of ourselves we are always wicked, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 51:3 ‘My sin is ever before me.’ But the hypocrite, say: ‘My righteousness is ever before me, and blessed are they who do works of righteousness.’

The text says: ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven’; that is to say: Blessed are they who by grace are freed from the burden of iniquity, namely, of the actual sins which they have committed.  That, however, is not sufficient, unless also their ‘sins are covered,’ that is unless the radical evil (original sin) which is in them is not charged to them as sin.  That is covered when, though still existing, it is not regarded, considered and imputed by God; as we read: ‘Blessed is the man to w home the Lord will not impute sin.'”

Martin Luther


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