Part 5 in an 8 part series. View series intro and index.
In the last post, we discussed the imputation of our sin to Christ as he died on the cross. As our sin has been imputed to Christ, God takes Christ’s righteousness and imputes it to us (or “exchanges” it for our sin, as Martin Luther puts it). In reality, in God’s eyes, this probably happens simultaneously, but for our purposes we can consider that sin must be imputed to Christ before righteousness is imputed to us.
Because we are totally depraved, there needs to be a righteousness that comes from outside in order to make us right with God. In Romans 4, Paul tells us:
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (v. 3).
David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works (v. 6).
We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness…his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (vv. 9, 22-25).
And in Galatians 3:5-6, Paul writes,
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Paul talks about this in Philippians 3 as well, regarding his own life. He says,
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
There was nothing that Abraham, David, or Paul did to get Christ’s righteousness as their own. They didn’t obtain righteousness by keeping the law. It was imputed righteousness “from God” that “depends on faith.”
When something is “counted” to you, it is not something you have done for yourself. Think of having someone credit a bank account of yours with money that you did not work for. All that was required on your part was to believe that the money was deposited. In the same way, Christ’s righteousness is credited to your “spiritual account” in the bank of God when you have faith that his promise is true. We have done nothing to earn our standing before God — indeed, we have done everything possible to try and avoid it! Nevertheless, when we believe or have faith in God that he will hold fast to his promise, God will count Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our very own.
To be continued.