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Romans 4:22 meaning

When Abraham believed God, he was counted as righteous in God’s sight. It is the same with us; when we believe God we are counted as righteous in God’s sight.

Abraham believed God could do something that seemed impossible to a human. Abraham believed this because he believed God is God. God is the creator, and God is faithful and true to His word. This is why Abraham's faith was also credited to him as righteousness (v 22). The Greek word translated credited means to reason and decide something. God is the one that decided.

Paul has already declared that Scripture clearly says not a single person is righteous from their own merit, not even Paul (Romans 3:9-18). The point here is that God promises that He will decide we are righteous when we believe His promise.

Some people believe they are too bad for God to forgive them, but the example of Abraham should demonstrate that God is in the business of doing things we consider impossible. Jesus told Nicodemus that to be born anew, of the Spirit, only required believing. We are simply required to have the same amount of faith the Israelites had when they were bitten by venomous snakes, and believed God's promise that they would be healed if they looked up at the bronze snake that was lifted up on a pole. Jesus said that in the same way He would be lifted up, that whoever believes upon Him will be delivered from the poisonous venom of sin (John 3:14-15).

After believing, we tend to ask, "But how can we know for sure that God has counted us as righteous?" The answer Paul gives is, "The same way as Abraham: believe God is God and will be true to His promise."

We as humans tend to prefer something tangible over faith. But faith is having confidence in what we cannot see as though we can see (Hebrews 11:1). It is tempting to succumb to the argument of the competing Jewish "authorities" whom Paul battles in this letter to the Romans, and trust in our keeping of religious rules to give us assurance we are righteous before God. This does a lot of things, including making us feel we are in control, and giving us a basis to compare ourselves to others and judge them inferior to ourselves.

Such legalism appeals to us, but keeping rules does not make us righteous before God. This type of rule-keeping behavior might feed an illusion that we are righteous in our own eyes, but it will not fool all people all the time. The only answer to becoming righteous before God is to believe God (John 3:14-16). And the only way to glorify God on earth is to walk in faith, abiding in Jesus and walking in His ways (John 15:8).

When we seek to be justified by keeping rules, we are in essence saying "Jesus did not do enough" (see commentary on Galatians 2:17 ). So we are actually doing ourselves harm through this false belief. Much better to see reality as it is, and fully receive the free gift of being justified. Then we can turn our attention to living a life of faith, for that is the path to our greatest fulfillment (Matthew 7:13-14).

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