There’s a Christian contemporary song entitled “Hymn of the Hell-Worthy.” By its title, you can probably tell it ain’t exactly Michael W. Smith or Rich Mullins kinda material. But it’s a song essentially about King David. It sort of speaks of the irony that a man who was infamous for some pretty grievous sins (adultery…sexual abuse really…and murder) would end up being used by the Holy Spirit to compose so many psalms in God’s Word. In fact, like Paul here in Romans, it quotes these very lines in the lyrics with one simple addition: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered [BY THE BLOOD OF GOD]. See Paul talks about being justified by faith (as Abraham was). Faith needs sumthin to cling to…to hang on to. For Abe, it was the promises of God Almighty. For us, it is his promises fulfilled in the Lamb of God whose precious blood covers not most of our sin and wickedness — but all of it.
I. If, in fact, he was justified by works he had sumthin to boast about. This, by the way, is the polar opposite of the Pharisee and the tax collector. If this were the case, the Pharisee would’ve been in the right. He had more “works” to build his case on before God. He could’ve boasted and continued on his rant about the tax collector. But Jesus smashes that mindset of DO MORE when he says it was the repentant tax collector who went home justified. But this Pharisee mindset is the yeast that simply WON’t leave the church on earth. The worker earns his wages. It’s what simply makes sense to the world. Satan always wants to convince us that that was one sin too many. That we gotta try harder to be a better person or else God’ll say no. This mindset besets all of us from time to time. We got Lutheran on our sign outside because of this very way of thinking. Works gotta be involved. Penance, dipping into all the merits the saints and Mary and Jesus aquired and if ya can’t…buy an indulgence. Problem solved. Our flesh always wants to make it by works. In other words, do NOT be a David.
II. But we — like Abraham…like David — are blessed to live by faith. Paul tells Gentiles here that Abe is their forefather in the flesh. He connects them not through what would later be the nation of Israel, but through humanity. We all share in the same problem: Wickedness. But we are all declared righteous the exact same way: by faith. Only by faith. Why? Because God wants nuthin to do with our efforts to make things right. God needs zero from us. He would do it for us and it would involve the blood of God. Our faith rests on nothing less than that. That the Lamb of God would ascend the altar of the cross and bleed out for the wicked…the godless. The adulterers and murderers — us — would be covered fully in it. He even gives it to us to drink and forgives us again and again as we kneel here at this blessed rail. And even our required faith that God’s Son procured our salvation is a gift. It’s all him. We, like Abraham and David, are simply the blessed recipients of it. Like the children of Israel standing at the shores of the Red Sea, we need only be still. We admit that we are hell-worthy, yes. But by faith in the blood of God, we are heaven bound.