Righteousness Imparted

2 Peter 1:3-4


Just as the fallen, unrighteous nature of Adam was imparted to all men by natural birth, the holy, righteous nature of Christ is imparted to all God's elect in the new birth. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us for justification. And the righteousness of Christ is imparted to us in regeneration by the irresistible power and effectual grace of God the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 3:10-12; 1 John 3:7-9).

            Some object to the use of the term “imparted righteousness;” but their objection is as baseless as the objections of those heretics who deny the doctrines of the Trinity and Substitution. Though the words “trinity,” “substitution,” and “imparted righteousness” are not found in the Word of God, the doctrines are clearly and unmistakably revealed throughout the Scriptures as the fact that “the wages of sin is death.” The word “impart” simply means, “to make known, tell, relate, or disclose; to give, bestow, or communicate; to grant a part, or share.”

            If Christ is the righteousness of God, and he is (Jer. 23:6), and Christ is in us, as the Word of God declares he is (Col. 1:27), no one can reasonably object to the assertion that Christ our righteousness is imparted to us in the new birth, as the Holy Spirit declares by Apostles Paul, Peter, and John (Gal. 2:20; 2 Pet. 1:3-4; 1 John 3:7-9). If Christ lives in me, the righteousness of God lives in me; and if the righteousness of God is in me, it was imparted to me. I certainly was not born with it by nature, and I did not pour it into myself!

            I am not saying that the believer is without sin. He is not. Sin is what we are by nature. Sin is mixed with all we do. Sin mars our best thoughts, blackens our best deeds, corrupts our best words, and defiles our best aspirations. I am not saying that the old nature is changed in regeneration. It is not. Flesh is always flesh. It never improves. It never becomes spirit. It only corrupts, rots, and, thank God, in time dies. I am not saying that the believer's works can ever be accepted before God upon their own merit. They are not. We offer up our prayers and sacrifices to God, which are accepted by him, only upon the merits of Christ's righteousness and blood atonement (1 Pet. 2:5). But I am saying that the person who is born of God is a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). He has a new nature, which is “Christ in you the hope of glory.”

            All who are born of God walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-23). We love the law and truth of God. We love holiness. But, oh, the evil of our hearts! There is a constant warfare within. (See Rom. 7:14-25). All who are born of God mind the things of God (Rom. 8:5). This is imparted righteousness. Believers love Christ and one another. They identify themselves with Christ, his gospel, and his church. Believers are men and women of honesty and integrity. They live honestly, pay their bills, and speak the truth. Believers hate their sin and long to be free of it. They are generous, kind, and merciful. In a word, all who are born of God are committed to Christ, sold out to him. And they will continue in the faith, clinging to Christ alone unto the end. Those who do not have this imparted righteousness are no more born of God than those who do not have Christ's imputed righteousness are justified before God.