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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007
Definitions: Imputation of Righteousness
Our condemnation was imputed to Him, and His righteousness to us.One of the dear saints in my church, a man of uncommon discernment, mentioned last night at our prayer meeting how he has noticed that there are some in the congregation who may not understand the simplicity of various gospel elements because some of the nomenclature may be unclear. So I thought I might do a quick series, ostensibly on Thursdays, to explain in simple terms some of the words we use in our theological discussion.

Today I want to talk about the imputation of righteousness.

Psalm 32:2 says, "2Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit." [ESV]

Paul quotes from this in Romans 4:6-8 when he says, "6just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 'Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.' " [ESV]

The King James rendering uses the word impute, and comparing the two translations will help the one who is unfamiliar with the word get a good feel for how it was used and what it meant: "6Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."

Imputation means to "credit" a thing to someone.

When Jesus Christ took my sin to the cross, my sin was "imputed" to Him, however that came to be the end result was that my sin was charged to Christ's account, as it were so that I was released from my sin debt by transferring that debt to the person of Jesus Christ. That is what I mean when I say that my sin was "imputed" to Christ. It is this imputation of sin to Christ that justifies me as a sinner. My sin is not ignored by God, it is punished in full in Christ. My debt is not excused, it is paid in full having been transferred to another.

The imputation of righteousness however is the other side of that Christian coin. Jesus Christ not only lived without sinning, He lived righteously, doing good and pleasing God in all His ways. Just as Christ received my sin to his account, and was punished in my stead, so too His righteousness is given to my account - that is, all my interactions with God are brokered through Christ's righteousness and not my own.

The imputation of our sin to Christ justifies us before God, and the imputation of Christ's righteousness commends us to God. Had we only been justified we should have no reason to expect an audience with the King - for we are simply "not guilty" - but having Christ's righteousness we can draw boldly to the throne of grace, for we are regarded as the most welcome on Christ's account.

Now, I should add that God isn't playing with some cosmic switcheroo here. It isn't as though as Christ hung on the cross God pretended He was me and punished His innocent Son by pretending Christ was me. There is nothing righteous about punishing an innocent man even if the man is willing. Scripture says that we were crucified with Christ, and united with Him in his death and resurrection. Our union with Christ on the cross enabled Christ to truly and literally receive our condemnation - our mixing with Christ in this way is how our sin was imputed to Him - it wasn't mere roleplaying or mental assent, it was a union that clearly transcends the physical laws. We were in Christ, and our presence in Christ allowed a righteous God to punish Christ without corrupting His own righteousness. Christ truly bore our sin. Thus in being united in Christ's death our sin was imputed to Him.

Yet the union did not end in the grave, but just as we were united in Christ on the cross and in the grave, so too when the condemnation had been spent, and Christ's lifeless form was found by God - the righteousness by which Christ had lived demanded a righteous God to undo death - for it was not just that a righteous man should die thus. God was bound by His own righteousness to raise Christ from the dead, for the grave is no place for an innocent man - and when God raised Christ from the dead, we were still united with Him - and thus His righteousness is imputed to us.

When God raised Christ from the dead - it was God's testimony to all who were in Christ that they were acceptable to God in the beloved - that is, he no longer regarded them according to their sin, but rather according to the righteousness of Christ, for if it was any other way, God would by no means have raised Christ (and us who were united to Christ) from the dead.

This truth is a pillar in our relationship with God. We do not stand before God in our own righteousness - rather we look to the cross and the grave and the resurrection - that is, we look to our union with Christ, to His righteousness as our standing before God - and in that righteousness we rest, assured that we are accepted by God no matter how vile we understand our present condition to be.

Keeping our eyes on Christ is not some empty thought - it is the practice of a believer who is grounding themselves in truth so that they may walk in the Spirit, and walk in the path the Lord has given.


posted by Daniel @ 7:37 AM  
  • At 10:15 AM, September 13, 2007, Blogger David said…

    OK, now I know what "imputation" means. Now, can you define "nomenclature" and "ostensibly"?

    This was a good explanation. I've been surprised at how many professing Christians I've met deny imputation. Finney lives.

  • At 11:00 AM, September 13, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, more disturbing than those who outright deny imputation, at least in my opinion, are those who embrace it with their lips and minds, but deny it in practice. They are constantly looking to themselves to please God, rather than resting in Christ. These stumble because their introspection has shown them how vile and rebellious they are, and they conclude (rightly) that God must hate that, but they fail to understand that God dealt with that in Christ already, and so they set about trying to "make themselves right" with God rather than humble themselves before the magnitude of what God has already done for them and has done not so not in answer to our own righteousness, but in answer to His. He is a strong tower, and the righteous run into Him.

  • At 11:01 AM, September 13, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    There -was- a superfluous "not so" in that last comment. Didja notice it?

  • At 11:02 AM, September 13, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Actually, it was only a superfluous "not"... sigh.

  • At 3:21 PM, September 13, 2007, Blogger David said…

    I've gotten so accustomed to your superfluous words that I no longer notice them. Besides, I was rather convicted by your words, superfluity notwithstanding. Why must you do that to me?

  • At 10:33 PM, September 13, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hope this isn't a simplistic or dumb question, but...

    Well, Jesus said "Destroy this temple [referring to himself, of course] and in three days I will raise it up."

    So... did Jesus raise Himself from the dead? Or did God? Or is it not worth distinguishing since they are One, yet distinct?

    I greatly appreciate this post, btw, as I am one who struggles much with my own wretchedness, even though less so these days. And even though my actions are, well, better the more I submit. But sometimes it never seems to be "enough." And I know it never will or can be "enough," but that seems to be a sticky wicket to shake off mentally.

  • At 7:24 AM, September 14, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan, in John 10:17-18 Jesus gives a bit more insight into that particular passage saying of His own life that no one is taking it from Him, but rather that He is laying it down so that He may take it up again, that He has the power to do both because He has received the command to do both from the Father.

    In Romans 6 we read that Christ was raised from the dead by/through the "glory of the Father" and again in Acts 2:24 it plainly states that it was God who raised up Jesus.

    In Hebrews 9:14 we see that it was through the Spirit that Christ offered himself to God as a sacrifice, and again in 1 Peter 3:18 we see that it by the Spirit Christ was made alive.

    It reminds me of the creation account - as you study it you find that God the Father commanded creation, Jesus Christ carried out the command and created all, and did so by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    So too, I think, when Christ said "I will raise it up again" there was an economy of effort in the Godhead - it was clearly God the Father's decree, Christ did it, and the power to be made alive came by the Spirit.

    I believe that the moment we invoke the Trinity into an event, it becomes difficult to navigate the event because truly, we lack perspective. The best we can speculate is that the Trinity is one, and works as one, all can say "I" and mean "together" without compromising the singleness of the pronoun "I" - so I guess I am saying that Christ did raise Himself but not in isolation from the Godhead.

    That is my take on it. How do you read it?

  • At 7:58 AM, September 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm not sure how I see it yet, Daniel, to be honest. But you've given me good food for thought on this.

    I certainly agree with your description of Trinity and the word "I". When my son was 13 and had a bar mitzvah (he is Jewish; Israeli father), we had him study for the event with a messianic Jewish tutor. The tutor taught my son about the Trinity by using the analogy of my son himself - he is flesh, has spirit and also a soul. My son knows he has these things, can relate to this, and understood better the concept of three in one, united as one yet distinct.

    With respect to Christ's raising/being raised from the dead, I looked up the Scriptural references you gave. They are good. The last, however, says (at least in the ESV), "but made alive in the spirit," which I would distinguish from "by the Spirit," but in the spirit nonetheless.

    I think you are correct, however, in your take on it. I know that God created everything, and that Scripture affirms that all was made through Jesus and for Jesus, all the while the Spirit hovered over the waters - so they each had a part, somewhat distinct and united at the same time. As you wrote, we lack perspective for whole understanding, but can grasp some in part at present.

    I appreciate your method of teaching. You expound well (superfluous or not) and provide Scriptural support; likewise, I enjoy your encouragement of one's own research or the questioner's take on it. Thanks.

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