The Imputed Righteousness of Jesus Christ
By David J. Stewart | March 2009 | Updated April 2016
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man,
unto whom God IMPUTETH righteousness without works” (Romans 4:6).
What in the world does that big word mean . . . “IMPUTETH”? The word “impute” means “to pass to one’s account, to count over.” It means that God places His righteousness upon our record when we trust upon Christ for salvation. God placed all of our sins upon Christ on the cross. Romans chapter four speaks concerning Abraham, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was COUNTED UNTO HIM for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
The word “counted” in Romans 4:5 comes from the Greek word logizomai, which means to “take an inventory.” It is the same exact Greek word as is used for “imputeth” in Romans 4:6. Abram [Abraham] believed the Gospel and it was IMPUTED [COUNTED] UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS!!! If you took a piece of paper and drew a line down the middle, listing all your sins on one side and all of Jesus' righteousness on the other, you'd have an inventory. Imputation is God taking all of our sins and placing them upon Christ, and taking all of Jesus' righteousness and transferring it to us. This happens by faith alone.
What a beautiful truth! Abraham was not saved by good works; but rather, he believed God and was saved by Christ’s righteousness. Christ’s perfection was imputed (placed) on Abraham’s record in Heaven. God the Father viewed Abraham thereafter as having the righteousness of Christ. What an awesome Savior!
Abraham believed God concerning the coming Messiah Who was to save His people from their sins . . . “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Why was Abraham able to simply believe God in place of merit or good works? It's simply because Jesus paid the price for mankind's sins. You see, Abraham could NOT please God in his own self-righteousness, nor can we (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 10:3,4; Titus 3:5). No matter how much good we may do here on earth, our sins are still recorded in Heaven. Our sins must be washed away, permanently removed!
This is why Jesus came to earth to paid the price for our sins with His own precious blood . . . “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1st Peter 1:18-19). All mankind is corrupt and destitute of God. Even in our sincerest efforts, humanity is tarnished with the curse of sin and rebellion. We need HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, i.e., the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are saved by Jesus' righteousness through faith in the Gospel.
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).
We read in Romans 4:8, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not IMPUTE sin.” Not only was Christ’s righteousness imputed (counted) to Abraham’s record, but Abraham’s sinful record was imputed to Christ. Literally, Jesus became as sin for us and died a sinner's death . . . “For HE HATH MADE HIM TO BE SIN FOR US, WHO KNEW NO SIN; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2nd Corinthians 5:21). Amen!
We read concerning Abraham . . .
“And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was IMPUTED to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be IMPUTED, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4:22-24).
This is a beautiful passage of Scripture, teaching that God is willing to IMPUTE Christ's righteousness to us as well, just as He did to Abraham, if we'll simply believe on the Lord... “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
These Scriptures were written for us, that we might also have Christ’s righteousness imputed to our record, and our sins imputed to Christ’s record. He who knew no sin, became as sin, that we who knew no righteousness could be made the righteousness of God in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:21). What a wonderful truth! To think that Jesus would actually bear our sins upon Himself and sacrifice His precious blood for our sins—we are not worthy. Thankfully, God looked beyond our faults through His love and saw our need . . . “ But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
I cannot express in Words how much I thank the Lord for what He has done for a sinful worm like me. We're all wicked sinners in God's eyes. Do you realize all that you will miss if you reject Christ as your Savior? Eternal life is a free gift (Romans 5:15; 6:23), which anyone may have simply by acknowledging their guilt of sin and believing on the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness . . . “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). It is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved, so that God the Father may view us as having the righteousness of Christ which is imputed unto us at salvation . . .
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God IMPUTETH righteousness without works” (Romans 4:6).
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was IMPUTED unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23). Would you like to be the friend of God? It all begins when you receive Jesus as your Savior. Jesus earnestly wants to impute your sin to His record and impute His righteousness to your record. All you must do to be saved is admit your guilty condition before God for violating His holy Law (Romans 3:19), and then believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose again for your sins (the gospel, 1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Believe the gospel! Trust upon the Son of God to wash away your sins with His shed blood that was shed at Calvary.
If you come as a sinner and trust upon the Savior Who died, was buried and bodily arose again, then you are saved my friend. We go to Heaven because we trust what Christ did for us; and not because of what we can do for Him. Our best righteousness is filth to God (Isaiah 64:6). We need HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, that is, Christ's imputed righteousness (Matthew 6:33; 2nd Corinthians 5:21). Oh how foolish is the world today! Billions of unsaved religious people are headed for the Lake of Fire!
A demon's favorite activity is to make an unsaved person feel religious. Religion is the worst thing that ever happened to this world, because Satan uses it to blind men (2nd Corinthians 4:4). Religion says that everything is ok while a person is headed for Hell forever. My friend, everything is wrong if you've never been born-again. You need He Who is the beginning, Jesus, born in you (Revelation 1:8). That's what it means to be “born again”... being born anew by the Holy Spirit of God, by the seed of the Word of God (1st Peter 1:23).
No amount of personal effort can undo our sins. Isaiah 64:6 proclaims that even our BEST self-righteousness is vile filth to God. We are sinful by nature, by behavior, by motive and even by virtue. James 2:10 teaches that to commit even one sin is to become guilty of all in God's sight, because even one sin makes us unfit for the kingdom of God. That's why God sent His only begotten Son into the world to pay for our sins by His death, burial and resurrection. If you receive what Christ did as payment for your sins, then you are saved!!!
Christ's righteousness has been imputed (placed) upon your record, and your sins have been placed upon Christ at Calvary. This is Biblical salvation! Jesus paid a debt that He did not owe, because we owed a debt of sin that we could not pay. The Lamb of God was crucified for you and me, and His blood shed for our sins. It's all paid in full. Amen! Eternal life is a free gift based upon the PROMISES of God (Titus 1:2); not a reward dependent upon the performance of man (Ephesians 2:8-9). You simply receive the gift of eternal life by faith in THE GOSPEL (death, burial and resurrection) of Jesus Christ to have it (Galatians 3:26); you don't hope to merit eternal life by working for it.
There's only two religions in the world: DO and DONE. Most religions teach that to get to Heaven you must DO this and DO that; but the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply says that it's all DONE, Jesus has paid for our sins by His precious blood. 1st Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
What precious assurance knowing that God has placed Christ's righteousness upon us, and has laid our sins upon His Son (2nd Corinthians 5:21). Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” 1st John 3:5, “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” What an awesome God!
Modern Satanic Bible Versions Remove Doctrine of Imputation
In the following passage of Scriptures, the satanic Easy-To-Read Version (ERV) butchers Romans 4:5-6. Notice carefully the important theological term “IMPUTETH” in Romans 4:6 of the faithful King James Bible (KJB), which is completely removed from the ERV. The KJB is correct below, but the second quote is from the ERV, which is awful, heretical and wicked . . .
KING JAMES BIBLE (KJB) — Romans 4:5-6, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” [emphasis added]
EASY-TO-READ VERSION (ERV) — Romans 4:5-6, “But people cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in him. Then he accepts their faith, and that makes them right with him. He is the one who makes even evil people right. David said the same thing when he was talking about the blessing people have when God accepts them as good without looking at what they have done.” [emphasis added]
They've corrupted this Scripture passage! Do you see what they've horribly done? Whereas the King James Bibles teaches that God imputes the righteousness of Christ to the believer, the ERV foolishly says God accepts a person as good by faith, which means something entirely different. God doesn't accept someone as “good” by faith; but rather, God attributes His righteousness to us by faith. The word “impute” doesn't mean accepting someone as good in spite of the bad things they've done. To “impute” means that Christ's righteousness is transferred to us, because CHRIST PAID OUR SIN DEBT. Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
False Teachers of Lordship Salvation Heresy Ignore Doctrine of Imputation
It is very easy and simple to be saved. Many Bible students mistake the emphasis upon repentance in the Old Testament as meaning “turning from sins” to be saved. However, we learn that this is simply not the truth when we read Genesis 15:6, “And he [Abram] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” The New Testament quotes from Genesis 15:6. Romans 4:3-8, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Oh, how beautiful are these Scriptures, which Evangelist Ray Comfort totally ignores in his “THE EVIDENCE BIBLE.” Kindly, Mr. Comfort has been deceived by the Devil. I have a copy of his tainted book right in front of me. I wanted to double-check, just to make sure I am being accurate. The last Scripture Mr. Comfort comments about is Romans 3:20, and then the next verse is Romans 4:20. He skips one of the most important passages of Scripture in the Holy Bible, about the doctrine of IMPUTATION. Oh my, how could any serious Bible teacher fail to teach the doctrine of IMPUTATION? And neither does Mr. Comfort comment about Genesis 15:6. You see, the vital doctrine of imputation doesn't fit his heresy of Lordship Salvation.
Kindly, Ray Comfort has brought a curse upon many churches. Galatians 1:6-9, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” What Is The Gospel? (an excellent, doctrinally-sound, writing by Dr. Harry A. Ironside).
We Are Saved By God's Imputed Righteousness
Here is the best quote that I've found on repentance, by Dr. Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951):
“Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Yet we find true believers exhorted to 'repent, and do the first works.' So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.” (Except Ye Repent, p. 16)
We are all sinful human beings. Ecclesiastes 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” We aren't sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners! We're all sinners by nature and by choice!
One of the most precious and important theological doctrines in the Holy Bible is “IMPUTATION”—Theology: “to attribute (righteousness, guilt, sin, et cetera) to a person or persons vicariously; ascribe as derived from another.” In other words, salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith. Isaiah 53:5a, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” Christ died for all mankind. Amen!
The fundamental Bible doctrine of IMPUTATION is one of the most important subjects in the Bible, right up there was the sprinkling of Jesus' literal blood upon the heavenly Mercy Seat in the Holy Place (Hebrews 9:12, 22-24; 12:24).
In his classic and helpful book, “SALVATION IS MORE THAN BEING SAVED,” Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001) teaches:
Upon the acceptance of God's plan, God imputes to man the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ; and God, Who cannot fellowship with unrighteousness, sees man clothed in the righteousness of His dear Son. Romans 10: 1-4, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
...Man cannot earn that righteousness, for he has sinned. The only hope he has for righteousness is that he receive the righteousness of Christ purchased for him on Calvary—man has his choice—to trust his own righteousness and spend eternity in Hell or to trust the righteousness of Christ, which in response to his faith will be imputed unto him, and then spend eternity in Heaven. This is called "imputation in salvation."
...Satan, the accuser, may come to God and say, "Did you see that sin that Hyles committed?"
God says, "Yes, I did." Satan says, "Then impute it." God says, "I will not!"
Satan says, "Why?"
God says, "It has already been imputed. It has been placed on the record of My Son, and I will not impute sin to those who are in Christ."
In review, let us see the order: (1) Sin. (2) Sin recorded. (3) Jesus became sin. (4) Jesus paid for sin. (5) Man believes it is true. (6) Man receives Christ and His payment for sin. (7) Calvary is made valid. (8) Man's sins are covered. (9) Man is justified in the sight of God. (10) God will impute no sin to him.”
SOURCE: Dr. Jack Hyles, “IMPUTATION AT SALVATION,” chapter 4, “SALVATION IS MORE THAN BEING SAVED.”
Christ paid our debt of sin upon the cross as our substitute (which is what “vicarious” means, “in place of”). God the Father IMPUTED our sins to Christ on the cross, and then God IMPUTED all of Christ's perfect righteousness to us. What an awesome deal! What a great God! Jesus paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. Jesus paid it all, bearing the full weight of our sins upon the cross of Calvary! (“Calvary” is the name of the hill upon which Christ died. It is also called, “The Place of the Skull,” because the rock formations naturally look like a skull). It is a shame that the new Bible versions, including the New International Version (NIV), completely remove the word “Calvary.” Consequently, hymns like “At Calvary” lack meaning to this newer generation.
I was reading tonight and found a great quote from Evangelist Oliver B. Greene:
“When we believe, we receive: 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved' (Acts 16:31). 'As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name' (John 1:12).”
SOURCE: Dr. Oliver B. Greene; The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews; THE GOSPEL HOUR, INC., © 1965.
Thank God for the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ! Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”