Christ’s Imputed Righteousness

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.

One reply on “Christ’s Imputed Righteousness”

In my study on this topic, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular Protestant Lexicon here is what it is defined as:

QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”

The Protestant Lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteouness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are 3 examples:

Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (3) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.
This cannot be right.

So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22).


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