Over a Sunday lunch many years ago, my friend and church deacon shared about who he was before Christ transformed his life. He rounded off a story by saying, “There’s a LOT of blood covering that. Lots of blood.” Everyone laughed, not just because of the humor of his words, but out of joy at how God had redeemed him.

“Blessed are those whose lawless acts are forgiven, whose sins are covered,” (Romans 4:7, BSB). That word, blessed, could also be translated “happy” or “favored.” Why is it that we often struggle to feel the unbridled joy of our forgiveness?

One reason is that we are driven to make up for our own failings. Like Adam and Eve stitching together fig leaves, we want to conceal our own shame. We hate to be weak and dependent on another’s sufficiency. What’s easier is “a proud working for God,” as John Piper has put it.

But just as God foreshadowed by covering Adam and Eve with animal skins, our sins cannot be blotted out without the blood of a pure sacrifice (Genesis 3, Hebrews 9:22). That sacrifice was given once and for all at the cross, and our striving adds exactly nothing to the finished work of Christ (Hebrews 10:10, Ephesians 2:8,9). Freedom and rest come when we admit that He is our only covering. We can sing with a light heart, unburdened from the crushing weight of atoning for sin:

Nothing in my hand I bring

Simply to Thy cross I cling

Naked, come to Thee for dress

Helpless, look to Thee for grace

Foul, I to the fountain fly–

Wash me, Savior, or I die…

Rock of ages, cleft for me

Let me hide myself in Thee!

– Rock of Ages, by Augustus Toplady, 1763