Great Bishop of Geneva! : 1) Makarios · 2) Once Saved, Always Saved - True for Church, Not True for All Christians Individually · 3) Protestants - Not - Getting Around Matthew 28 Last Three Verses: John Calvin's Attempt · 4) Barnes NOT getting around Matthew 28:20 ... · 5) Since St Francis of Sales had Real Objections to Calvinism ... 6) Contra Sproul 7) Barnes on Jewish Tradition 8) If Constantine had Founded the Catholic Church ... 9) Salvation and Schrödinger's Cat Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : 10) ... on Apostolic Succession, both as to Reasons and Answering an Objection or Two (quora)
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.
Cross reference Psalms 32:1
Of David. A maskil. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Catholic interpretation: a newly baptised person is such. Both the original sin and his own previous transgressions (in case he was baptised as an adult) are forgiven by baptism. Nothing which he committed before baptism will ever be counted against him again by the Lord. Such he remains as long as he commits no mortal sin.
If there is a new sin, it is not covered by a baptism that went before it. However, confession is open to him. If it is a small one, he can exercise the life which is in him through baptism, and it is enough to cover the small sin. If it is such a sin as to deprive him of the life that is within him through baptism, then he needs to confess, repent and resolve, get absolution. And then he is blessed again. The transgressions he committed after baptism are covered also, God will never remember them either against him.
As far as I know, the Greek Orthodox, the Monophysite, the Nestorian interpretations are exactly the same or closely similar. All of these Churches do have confession - though most Catholic theologians would argue it is not valid except in special cases. Like innocent ignorance of where the Church is (it may be common or not, but still special: the Church as such is not invisible), or for a Catholic the cases of either dying before confession unless confessing to one of those, or living long without confession unless confessing to one of those.
Blessed does not just refer to a juridic state of non-condemnation, nor to a subjective feeling of relief over not being condemned after doing something condemnable. It refers to the life that is in the newly and rightly baptised man, which is the same life that can continue past death, if it is there in that moment, and freed from mortal cares, either directly or after purgatory will make a man blessed without any reservation or dimming of the glory. It is the heavenly life. It is in Catholic Theology referred to as The State of Grace, and it is by Theologians defined as the Indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the human soul concerned.
Protestant reply: but if God knows that a man who has just been justified will sin in the future, does not that mean he is not blessed unless God already decides not to count the future sins either?
No, is the Catholic answer to that reply. The blessedness is not the same thing as an unrevocable decision of God not to damn him ever whatever he may do in the future. God knows if the man's blessedness will last or not. The man does not. But St Paul tells him in this verse that his past sins are no more an impediment to his life in God or the life of God in him, as soon as his sins are covered either by baptism or, if committed after baptism, by the sacrament of confession. The blessedness as such is God's indwelling in the man's soul.
There may or probably even was a time, when Judas Ischariot was blessed, was in a state of grace. But probably even before the betrayal, he lost the blessedness, lost the state of grace, by greed and by stealing from God.
Now, check if my explanation is correctly in accordance with Haydock's Bible commentary of verses 6-9 of this chapter:
Ver. 6. As David, &c. That is, David accounted a man happy in being justified by God's grace, and not by his own works, when he said: Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven by the mercies of God, and whose sins are covered; that is, covered so as to be no more, even in the sight of God. (Witham)
Ver. 7. Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. That is, blessed are those who, by doing penance, have obtained pardon and remission of their sins, and also are covered; that is, newly clothed with the habit of grace, and vested with the stole of charity. (Challoner) --- When it is said that the sins of man are covered, we must not imagine that they still remain, but on account of the goodness of God will not be punished, as the Lutherans contend; for the justice of God could not suffer this: but by it we must understand that they are entirely blotted out, and neither exist, nor are considered any longer by God. Still, we must not conclude that man is blessed, as soon as sin is remitted; since the same psalmist, in another place, ascribes happiness to man when he walks in the law of the Lord, and when he keeps judgment and does justice. (Psalms i; cv; and cviii.) And our Saviour says, If you know these things, blessed shall you be if you do them. (St. John xiii.) (Estius) --- Moreover, if sins were never blotted out, but only covered, why did the royal prophet pray to the Almighty, saying: blot out all mine iniquities; and in different parts of the 50th psalm and psalm cviii, speaking of the egregious sinner, he says: let the sin of his mother not be blotted out; which would mean nothing at all, if sins were never blotted out? (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin. That is, blessed is the man who hath retained his baptismal innocence, that no grievous sin can be imputed to him. And likewise, blessed is the man who, after falling into sin hath done penance, and leads a virtuous life by frequenting the sacraments necessary for obtaining the grace to prevent a relapse, that sin is no more imputed to him. (Challoner)
Ver. 9. This blessedness, by which a man's sins are forgiven, and his soul truly justified, was promised, and is given to the uncircumcised Gentiles, as well as to the circumcised Jews, by the faith and grace of Christ; as Abraham was justified, when he was in the state of uncircumcision. (Witham)
That's all I had to say on this one./HGL
Oh yes, one more: St Peter decided to baptise Cornelius, when through the visible signs of the Holy Ghost the Apostle knew that the uncircumcised Roman had this blessedness in him, already before baptism. For if we are bound to seek the Sacraments, God is not bound to deny grace to those that have not yet gone to them./HGL