Portrait of a Blessed Man: Romans 4:6-7
By: Deji Yesufu
The leading reason why some of us consider the Prosperity Gospel idolatry is that there is essentially no difference between what a true adherent of this aberrant gospel pursue and what the world pursues. If we were to consider it closely, we would realize that health and money are essentially the quest of the man in the world. The Nigerian musician Olamide sang a song whose lyrics could be translated from Yoruba as following:
I would build houses and buy land
I would have riches and cars
I would prevail over demons and enemies
They would pick up tin cans from here to Portharcourt…
Is there a difference between what Olamide is pursuing in life and what David Oyedepo and Johnson Suleiman teach their adherents to pursue? I do not think so. Recently, Johnson Suleiman joined the league of Nigerian Pastors owning private jets. When he was criticized on the internet for it, he released a video where he said that that was just the beginning. He and members of his church, he said, would be purchasing as much as fifty private jets in the years to come. Their vision in life and those of Olamide, the Lagos gangster rapper, are not any different.
The question that these series, which I have been writing on for week now, is seeking to answer is this: who is a blessed man? What does a blessed person look like? Can we sketch a portrait of a blessed man and compare ourselves to him and see if we indeed look like him in our works of religion? Today, I want to look at a piece of scripture that Paul wrote where he described who a blessed man is. I want to use this scripture to add a few features of who a truly blessed is to the portrait that I would be sketching over a period of time. Let us therefore consider Paul’s words in Romans 4:6-7:
Blessed is the man whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord would not count his sin.
Paul, in these verses of scripture, is quoting David the Psalmist from Psalm 32:1-2. Here David is describing the righteousness that God inputs on men without their having done anything to deserve it. Paul had spoken about Abraham and his being justified by faith; earning a righteousness by faith from God simply because he believed in God (Romans 4:4-5). He therefore adds the concept of a true blessing by saying essentially three things: 1. A man who is blessed is a man whose sins are forgiven. 2. A man who is blessed is a man whose sins are covered. 3. A man who is blessed is a man against whom God would not hold sin.
Many people believe they understand what it means for God to forgive sins. You see religious people do or say something and they mutter under their breadth “God forgive me.” And because they no longer have a troubled conscience they their sins are forgiven. There are others who having come to living faith in Jesus Christ, have sought his face in genuine repentance and faith and can say that their sins are forgiven. This is a truly blessed state. However there is more.
Some people have a wrong view of what salvation through Christ is. They tell you that they understand that their sins are forgiven having come to faith in Christ Jesus. But they are not sure of their eternal state after becoming Christians. They believe that they can commit a certain mortal sin that can take them to hell. Paul shows us that this is not the picture we see from these verses in Romans 4:6-7. We see that while our sins are forgiven, they are also covered. What does covering mean?
I would not claim absolute authority here but I think that it has something to do with unconfessed sins of the Christian. I think that those sins we confess are forgiven. But the ones we forget to confess or even refuse to confess are the ones that are covered. The verse also goes on to say something else: that God would not hold iniquity against these blessed ones. What exactly could all these mean?
Simple. It is saying that the truly blessed man is the man sin can no longer damn. The true blessing of the New Testament is that while God would judge the whole world for their sins, God would not judge Christians by their sins. Rather, God has judged the sins of Christians on Christ Jesus on the cross. Praise the Lord!
The real trouble with the Prosperity Gospel is that it reject genuine blessings in Christ Jesus to pursue mundane things and call such the blessed life. Prosperity Preaching says that Christ died to save us from our sins and to save us from illness and poverty. In adding the concept of illness and poverty to the glorious works of the cross, Prosperity adherents are denied the glory of the true gospel. The glory of the gospel is that Christ redeems sinners from sin ALONE. In doing this, he does a thorough work of redemption such that there is no sin a Christian commits after salvation that can damn him!
It means that Christians cannot lose their salvation. But some will say that a doctrine like this would encourage licentiousness. The person who claims to have received the grace of salvation but uses it as an occasion to continue in sin, have not met the Lord of the cross. Such are false believers heading to an eternity without God without Christ. A true Christian, saved from sin, would not return to it to wallow in that sin.
But the point of this essay is not looking at the sin from the perspective of man but looking at it from the perspective of God. When we get to heaven, some of us may not have on our records such outrageous sins are murder, fornication and adultery. Yet, we would have little sins like gossip, malice, lust and so on in our records. These little sins are sufficient to damn us in hell. Why? Because God would not be judging us by the standard of men but by his holiness. And God is absolutely holy; no man can stand before him.
The only way we shall be able to enter into heaven is for us to have an advocate in Jesus Christ. Our Lord would, at that moment, cover the sins of the elect and remind God, according to his word in Psalm 32:1-2, that there are a people who are genuinely blessed. These ones would not have sin counted against them. Later in the epistle of Romans, Paul tells us that we have been delivered from the law of sin and death and translated into the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2). The former law had sinful man earn eternal death. The present law has men who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, by Christ Jesus, earn eternal life.
This is a truly blessed man and such a person who has a foretaste of this life in Jesus Christ do not spend their lives pursuing mundane things. They are content with little because they have all things. They have eternal life, having been delivered from the life of sin. Those who make Christianity a pursuit of mundane things have not met the Lord of glory. May God give every reader of this piece insight into this true blessed life in Christ. Amen.
First published this day in 2019 on mouthpiece.com.ng