July 18, 2021

Something to boast

Something to boast

God's grace is greater than sin, both the sins were have committed and also the sinful nature that generates our desire and pursuit of sin. We can find forgiveness and freedom from sin through faith in God's grace. But how do I know that I am holy? This is a question being answered in a study of Romans 4:1-8.

Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
31 Bluebird Lane, Greensburg, KY 42743

Christian Podcaster Association


**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**




If you were to ask, “What makes the Church of the Nazarene different from all the other denominations and churches out there?” The answer is our belief in the doctrine of holiness. What is holiness? Holiness is a work done through the power of God’s grace, exchanging your heart that is saturated in sin for God’s heart that is full of His truth.


For us to take part in this work of God, all we must do is have faith that God’s grace has the power. His grace is greater than sin, the sins we have committed and the sinful nature (or human desire to pursue sin). God’s grace not only forgives us from sin, but it also completely frees us from it. This is holiness.


While we get the whole faith part, and take God at His word that His grace can make us holy, it raises another question. How do I know that I am holy? Are there six easy steps? Is it as simple as figuring out how to open those prepackaged communion cups? As we study Romans 4:1-8 today, we will be trying to answer the question “how do I know that I am holy?”


Romans 4:1-8


1 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. 6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart form works: 7 “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.” (NRSV)


This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.



IN THE TEXT: Scandal to those of the earth



In much of Romans, Paul asks questions and then supplies the answers. It is not that Paul is having conversations with himself, but re-having chats that he has had with Jews during his ministry. Remember, Paul has been traveling throughout the Roman empire sharing the gospel. Paul was asked many of the same questions and confronted with many of the same arguments.


Abraham is one of the forefathers of faith, someone commonly used by Paul’s opponents in attempt to undermine the gospel. God asked Abraham to pack up his family, move away from his father to a place only God knew, which Abraham had the faith to do. He trusted God that he and his wife would have a son at one hundred years old. Then Abraham trusted God when he took that son up on the mountain as a sacrifice. (He knew God would provide him another sacrifice) But these are not the works the Jews were referencing about Abraham. The Jews believed Abraham was considered righteous because he was circumcised. An act Abraham did to signify his compliance with God’s promise of making him into a mighty nation. They believed Abraham was justified, or saved, by this act. If Abraham had been saved because of this act, he certainly would have a reason to boast.


It really had nothing to do with that act, or any of the other acts that Abraham did. Those were merely demonstrations of Abraham’s faith. Faith was the sign before all the signs. The word translated “reckoned” in verse 3, means crediting to one’s account. Abraham had faith and God credited it to him as righteousness.


***[v4-5] SOMETHING TO EARN***


Paul continues by giving an illustration in verse 4. When a person is hired by another person or a company for a job, they are not given a paycheck as a gift. A paycheck is something a person must earn by doing the tasks they were hired to perform. An employer pays an employee what they are due. If a person earned their salvation, as the Jews believed, that meant God owed them something. And God does not owe anyone anything.


What the apostle writes next is what was hard for the Jews to believe. The whole idea of it all was scandalous to them. Verse 5 reads, “But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteous.” Paul claims that God justifies the ungodly who have faith in Him. God is named by Paul in that verse as “him who justifies the ungodly.” Ungodly implies they made no effort and had no interest in being righteous, but God’s grace was extended to them, and they believed. This faith was credited to them as righteousness.




After sharing Abraham as an example, Paul turns to another key figure for the Jews, King David. Paul quotes Psalm 32:1-2 in verses 6 through 8, which David wrote expressing the joy of God’s forgiveness. Do you remember what David did? He slept with another man’s wife, then had her husband killed. Yet, when David was confronted by the prophet Nathan, David confessed his sin and God forgave him. No special hoops to jump through. David did not have to earn his way back into God’s grace. God gave grace to David who believed that the Lord had forgiven him.


FROM THE TEXT: Scandal goes much further


The same argument that Paul shared, which was scandalous to the Jews, is still true today! And it goes even further. You and I are helpless sinners, so utterly and completely broken we did not even know we were supposed to be looking for Jesus. Grace is a work of God, not you or me. Even in our faith, we are not responsible for the work. Jesus accomplished this work on the cross, God opens our eyes to the need, our faith is accepting this gift and living in trust of God’s completed work.


You and me being justified is a work of God, not you or me. We could never do enough to repay the debt Jesus paid for us at calvary. But glory be to God, the LORD will never ask to repay it! All God wants is for us to have faith in Him and the promise purchased with the blood of Jesus. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”


What does all this have to do with holiness? Being saved (or justified) is the initial moment of being made holy. With our sins confessed and washed away in the blood of Jesus, this new freedom will only expose the depth of original sin that stains our hearts and has corrupted our minds. And remember, God’s grace even has the power to exchange our sin tainted hearts for one born of the Holy Spirit, which will lead to the transforming of our minds. Hebrews 10:10 states, “And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Holiness (or entire sanctification) is a work of God, not you or me. God’s will is to not only save us from sin, but to make us holy as He is holy. Paul was so confident in this work that as he closed his letter to the church at Thessalonica, he wrote, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely… The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) Just as salvation is received and lived through faith, holiness is us believing in the fullness of that promise.


BEYOND THE TEXT: The choice of our lives


How do I know that I am holy? By having faith in the work of God.