Theology Thursday: Imputation

By Paul R. Raabe

Hands praying over Bible

Are you righteous before God your Maker and Judge? The Glad Tidings from God himself is this: Yes!

The verb “impute” is a technical term that means “to charge or account something to a person which that person did not previously have, to reckon as yours something you did not previously possess.” It comes from the Latin verb imputare, which is the Latin translation for the Greek verb used in the New Testament, logizomai, “to count something as, to reckon.” It was commonly used as a financial banking term.

Why Is This Important to Me?

The verb “to impute” is used to proclaim the gospel. By his undeserved favor, God the Father sent his only-begotten Son to join the human race, to become the Second Adam and Israel’s Messiah. God imputed all of your sins and sinfulness against Jesus of Nazareth, and God imputed the righteousness of Jesus to you.

On Good Friday, God charged the sins of the world against Jesus of Nazareth (2 Corinthians 5:19, 21). On Easter, God declared Jesus to be “righteous” by virtue of his righteous doing and suffering (Romans 4:25). Through the gospel, God reckons that righteousness of Jesus to you (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30). God does not count your sin against you (Romans 4:8); he counted it against Christ. Instead God counts righteousness to you (Romans 4:6, 11), not a righteousness of your own based on your activity but the righteousness of Another—the righteousness accomplished by the doing and suffering of Jesus. This righteousness comes from God and is received by faith (Philippians 3:9). Now by faith you stand completely righteous before your Maker and Judge.

In the language of the Suffering Servant song in Isaiah 52:13-53:12, “Yahweh laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Moreover, “the righteous one, (Yahweh’s) servant, makes the multitudes to be accounted and declared righteous” (Isaiah 53:11). There is a blessed exchange. God put your sins on Christ and counted Christ’s righteousness to you.

What Is the Daily Application?

You are a Christian. You have been given the Holy Spirit and by his power you bear good fruit. Yet at the same time you remain a sinner. The old Adam still clings to you. Your daily life, your thoughts, words and deeds 24/7 are not completely righteous and pure. So, are you righteous before God your Maker and Judge? If you examine your daily life by the standard of God’s holy will, you daily sin is much. But take heart. You are completely righteous before God your Maker and Judge. Your sin has been imputed to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to you every day. Believe the Good News. You don’t have to worry about your standing with God, if you can do enough good works today to be righteous before God. You already are fully righteous in Christ. So rejoice in the Lord and invest your time in serving others. That is the gospel of imputation.

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