8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
8 Blessed is the man [the person] to whom the Lord shall not impute [credit] sin.”
The psalm moves to the singular—“the man.” This is a particularization of anyone whom God does not reckon a sinner. This is true of any person at all who believes that God justifies by faith. The idea is that God does not credit sin to our account in principle.
Paul used the same word for dealing with sin as he did for justifying a believer—“impute.” God does not “credit” sin to our account before Him. He will never count our sins against us.
The high priest in the Old Testament took the blood from the altar and sprinkled it on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant; thus, he covered sin. The Ark contained the law of Moses, which gave the norms of how God lives and expects others to live. This act was a form of judgment on sin. The innocent lamb’s blood was shed for forgiveness. David experienced this forgiveness by shed blood. Today we experience forgiveness by the blood of Christ, the true antitype of the lamb type in the Old Testament.
The word “not” is an emphatic negative (double negative)—God will definitely not count our sins against us. The Greek indicates that it will never, never happen. There is finality in that statement. At no point will God ever hold our sins against us. God does not count our sins; He does not calculate the manner, degree, or the kind of our sins. He does not hold them against us.
Guilt will dog our steps without forgiveness from God.
All of us know people who, when we ask their forgiveness, reluctantly concede their forgiveness to us. They accept our apology but continue to hold the issue against us. They might even bring up the issue in the future. This is not biblical forgiveness. Husbands and wives do this to each other, recalling some issue that was forgiven years ago and reminding them yet again of what they did. God is the very opposite of that. He will never bring up our sins again, because they were fully forgiven by the blood of Christ. That is true “blessedness.”
All of us can carry some form of guilt if we do not allow God’s promise of forgiveness to take hold of us. Have you harmed someone else in some way? Have you ruined their reputation? Did you violate a social norm that you cannot let go? Did you have an abortion? If so, you need to apply God’s judicial forgiveness to your experience.
I remember talking to Vietnam vets who came back with deep guilt for what happened in war. In part, they carried a misunderstanding of God’s perspective on war. But also they did not truly grasp God’s forgiveness for their sin in general.
David carried the guilt of adultery and murder, but God freed him from guilt by a declaration of forgiveness. David previously tried self-justification, but that did not work. There is a big difference between our covering our sin and God covering it. Our covering is self-justification; God’s covering rests on what Jesus did by shedding His blood for our sins. God looks at us through Jesus Christ. This is a grace way of looking at us. He does not measure us by human attainment, abilities, or social graces.