Righteousness Imputed

James 2:23


The Holy Spirit declares, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. He could never have been the friend of God without righteousness; neither can we.


The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world for the purpose of fulfilling all righteousness as the Representative of God's elect. And he did it! He brought in, established, and finished the work of righteousness for all his people by his obedience to the Father as our Federal Head. It is this righteousness, the righteousness of God in Christ that is proclaimed to sinners in the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 3:24-28). Until the righteousness of God, which was accomplished by the faithful obedience of Christ, is plainly declared, the gospel has not been preached. And any gospel that offers sinners any other righteousness than that which Christ has accomplished is a false gospel. It is this righteousness, accomplished by Christ, which is imputed to us for justification and acceptance with God. The Word of God speaks of a threefold imputation.


1. Adam's sin has been imputed to all men (Rom. 5:12, 18, 19). By God's appointment, Adam was the head and representative of all our race. When he sinned, we all sinned in him; and, sinning, we all became sinners by imputation. God laid the charge and guilt of Adam's sin (our sin in Adam) upon us. We became sinners not by what we do personally, but by what Adam, our representative, did, by what we did in him.


2. All the sins of God's elect were imputed to Christ when he was made sin for us (Isa. 53:6, 8; 2 Cor. 5:21). Our Lord Jesus never committed any act of sin. But when he was made sin as our Substitute, our sins were imputed to him, charged to his account. When he was made sin, he was justly punished for sin as our Substitute, suffering all the just consequences of sin for us, being made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13).


3. And the righteousness of Christ is imputed to every believer, because we have been made the righteousness of God in him (Rom. 3:23-24; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:19). We are not made righteous by something we do, any more than Christ was made to be a sinner by something he did. Christ's obedience has been charged to the account of all God's elect, those represented by him, those for whom he lived and died, those who trust him. God looks upon us in Christ as men and women who are perfectly righteous. He reckons us to be righteous in his sight. And you can be sure of this: If God looks upon us as being righteous, reckons us righteous, and declares that we are righteous, we are righteous! And just as he justly rewarded Christ for our sins, when he was made sin for us, he justly rewards us with eternal life for that perfect righteousness which is ours in Christ.