Your Account With God
Your Account With God

Romans 4:3: "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."

I have watched bookkeepers working to make the books balance.
A conscientious bookkeeper would want his books to balance.
The credits must offset the debits.
The cash on hand must equal that which is written in the accounts.
It is unthinkable that a bookkeeper would be satisfied with anything less than perfectly balanced books.

Have you ever thought that God is a bookkeeper?
Well, He is.
He is keeping books on you and me.
And if a man can be dissatisfied with unbalanced accounts, you cannot suppose that God is satisfied with them.
Of course, God is not satisfied with unbalanced accounts.

So, how is your account with God?
It would be good if you and I checked into that.
For God is checking it.
There will come a day when He will call for a reckoning.

Then it will be too late for you to examine it.
Paul reminds us that the most frightening fact that we have to face is that
"everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12)
This why It is vitally important that we should get our account straight with God.

With these thoughts in mind, I ask you to consider with me another word of the apostle Paul.
It is found in Romans 4:3: "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."

No human experience is more evident than that there is something wrong between God and man.
The Bible declares it in abundant ways.
But even if there were no Bible we should be aware that such is the case.
So it all boils down to the fact that man's accounts with God are out of balance.

By devious means, we often endeavor to get them in order.
This is the thought of this message today.

First, let us consider the word "debit."

In order to understand Romans 4 we must go back to Romans 3:23:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

No doubt about it -- even children know that they have done wrong.
Let us suppose that in His book of remembrance God has a page of which your name is at the top.
This is your account with God.
One side of this page is marked, "debit," and the other side is marked, "credit."

First, let us look at the "debit" column.
These are the things which are entered against you in God's ledger.
As we read this column we notice that immediately under your name are written the words, "Sinful Nature."

This means that you are a sinner by nature.
The Bible teaches that Adam was the federal head of the human race.
And when he sinned, all who are born after him are possessed of a nature that is a bent toward sin.

In Romans 5:12 Paul says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;
and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned
."
The same thought is expressed in Psalm 51:5,
"Behold, I was shaken in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
And Jesus echoes this truth when He said of the unregenerate Jews:
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." (John 8:44)

All of this adds up to the fact that in your natural state there is something radically wrong with you.
You are in rebellion against God.
There is something about you which makes it easier to choose the wrong than it is to choose the right.
We call this your sinful nature.
So you have the nature of evil rather than the nature of God.
And in such a state it is impossible for you to please God.

And when you look again at the "debit" side of your page, you read the words "Sinful Deeds."

Perhaps, you complain that you cannot have the nature with which you were born.
Maybe not.
But because you are so born, as soon as you begin to do anything it is an assertion
of your selfish and sinful nature.
This is evident even in infants.

And as soon as you are old enough to be responsible for your deeds, you become responsible to God.
Therefore, you not only are sinful by nature, but also by personal choice.
So you are responsible to God for your personal sinful deeds.
So because of your sinful nature and sinful acts God can say,
"There is none righteous, no, not one… there is none that doeth good, no, not one…" (Romans 3:10,12,)

So therefore throughout your life, you add to the debit side of God's ledger.
Every evil thought, every sinful and idle word, every sin of commission, every sin of omission
– the evil that you do and the good that you fail to do, all add up to a sordid story of your life.

It is unnecessary that I should explain this any further.
There may be righteous acts interspersed here and there.
But even they are sins in God's sight, for they are but your self-willed efforts to alleviate the wrath of God
toward you because of your sense of being condemned by your sin,.
Even pagans do the same.

However, the worse charge found against you is the word, "Unbelief."

For this is the expression of your rebellious nature whereby you scorn the benevolent, saving
will of God toward you.
The Bible teaches that by faith you can be forgiven of all your sins.
But for the sin of persistent unbelief there is no forgiveness.

For John 3:18 says, "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed
in the name of the only begotten Son of God
."
If you continue in such a state under death, your condemnation is "everlasting."

Second, let us examine the word, "debt."

In Romans 4:4 Paul says, "Now to him that works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation."
(NIV)
In other words because of the "debts" entered into your record, you are in debt to God.
And the debt must be paid, either by you or by another.
So if you propose to balance this debt by your own good works, then it remains a debt.

This is the very point of Paul's discussion.
The Jews proposed to be righteous before God through their good works of keeping the law of Moses.
They recognized that there were debits against them on God's ledger.
And they sought to pay this debt by their offsetting deeds of self-righteousness.

The trouble with them was that they did not recognize that they were separated from God by their sinful nature.
They regarded themselves as children of God because of their lineage in Abraham.
Therefore, they felt that all they needed to do in order to please God was to balance their sinful deeds
with their righteous ones.

Some even thought that Abraham had stored up a surplus of such with God which were available to them.
But Jesus reminded them that they were not sons of Abraham, let alone of God, but sons of Satan.
And Paul concludes that they were lost in sin along with the Gentiles. (cf. Romans 1:19-3:23)

So Paul says that they are in debt to God.
And that this is a debt which they cannot pay.
For "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh [Jew or Gentile] be justified in his [God's] sight."
(Romans 3: 20)

And this last statement includes you and me.
Let us suppose that you regard your sins as a debt to God, and you set out to pay it.
What can you do?

Perhaps, you propose to live a perfect life from now on.
But because of your sinful nature that is impossible.
But suppose that you could.
What about your past sins?

This would not work even in the business world.
The mere fact that you decide to pay cash for your groceries from now on will not please your creditors.
What about the groceries for which you already owe?
Oh, you could gradually pay off the grocery debts of the past.

But even this does not hold with regard to your debts to God.
For your self-righteous deeds are not legal tender with Him.

Even so, let us imagine that by some superhuman effort you could balance the "debits" of your sinful nature
with "credits" of righteous deeds.
There still would remain the debits of a sinful nature and of unbelief.

So what you need is a new nature.
And you can never have such as long as you abide in unbelief toward God.
You must be born again as a child of God possessing His nature.

And this is possible only by the power of the Holy Spirit through your conviction of sin, repentance of sin,
and faith in Jesus, the Son of God as your Saviour.
You must recognize that you are in debt to God, and it is a debt which you cannot pay;
and in that knowledge you cast yourself upon the grace of God.
Then your reward will not be reckoned of debt, but of grace.

And this leads us to consider the word "deliverance."

"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3)
Thus Paul quotes from Genesis 17:17 as he speaks of God's plan to deliver us from the debt column
of His book of accounts.
For he uses a bookkeeper's language when he says literally,
"Abraham believed God, and it was put down to his account as righteousness."
This usage is found repeatedly in both the New Testament and the Greek papyri, secular writings,
which were contemporary with the New Testament.

It is significant that Paul should use Abraham to illustrate his point.
Not only did Abraham not accumulate surplus merit which might apply to his descendents.
He himself had a debit column in God's ledger book.

He did not regard it as a debt to be paid by his own meritorious deeds.
Rather, he threw himself upon God's grace as he believed and trusted in God.
And when he did, God wrote across the debit column the word, "righteousness."

This certified that God by His own act chose to regard Abraham as justified before Him.
This does not mean that Abraham was righteous or free from sin, but that God chose to regard him as such.
And it was not by Abraham's works, but it was by his faith in God.

And this is exactly what God proposes to do for you.
Within yourself you can never remove the debt which your sins have accumulated.
It can be done only by God's grace and through your faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

Notice that Abraham did not receive God's righteousness by keeping the law of Moses.
For his experience antedated the Mosaic law by at least six hundred years.
Nor did he receive it by circumcision.
For he received it fourteen years before he was circumcised.
These two facts alone testify to the truth that you are not saved by your good works
or by some rite or ceremony prescribed by God and administered by men.

Some hold that New Testament baptism corresponds to the Old Testament circumcision.
I cannot agree with this because I cannot biblically agree with that.
But even if we should admit such a relationship, the conclusion stands that we are saved before baptism,
not as a result of it.
No, the matter goes much deeper than that.

"Abraham believed God, and it [the fact that he had believed in God] was counted unto him as righteousness."
Abraham's faith, like yours, was his outstretched hand whereby he received that which God offered and promised.

Now what did he believe?
Paul tells us in Romans 4:18-21.

God had promised that through His seed He would bless all nations.
Abraham was one hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety years old.
By natural law it was impossible that they should have a son.

But Abraham believed that God would do what He had promised.
"He staggered not at the promise through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God." (4:20)
The word for "promise" means a promise without any conditions attached.

So it was by grace, not by law.
Then, Abraham believed in the grace of God to do what He had promised.

This promise involved Isaac.
But it involved more.
For Paul says that the true "seed" of Abraham was Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

Somehow by faith, Abraham looked beyond Isaac to Christ.
For Jesus said, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and he was glad." (John 8:56)
So Abraham's faith was in Christ.
And God put his faith in the books as "righteousness."

That is exactly how that you must be saved – not by law but by grace.
Your debt to God is so great that it seems to you that no one can pay it.
But God in Christ has paid it.

"There was a time on earth, when in the book of Heav'n
An old account was standing for sins yet unforgiv'n;
My name was at the top, and many things below,
I went unto the Keeper, and settled long ago.

Long ago (down on my knees), long ago (I settled it all),
Yes, the old account was settled long ago (Hallelujah!);
And the record's clear today, for He washed my sins away,
When the old account was settled long ago."
By Frank Graham

What is impossible to you He has done.
And your faith must be your outstretched hand by which you receive it – not by the works of your hands,
but as the gift of God's grace.
The moment that you believe God, He will write across your sin-smeared page in His ledger.
the word, "righteousness."

Not your righteousness, but His, as He has revealed it in Christ.
Then, and only then, can you sing with assurance:

" 'Tis done – the great transaction's done;
I am my Lord's, and He is mine…

Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!"

Sermon was adapted by Dr. Harold L. White