Basic Theology: Imputation


The word imputation comes directly from the Latin. It is an accounting term and it means “to apply to one’s account.” Expenses are debited, and income is credited.

The verb "to impute" occurs frequently in the Old and New Testaments. The apostle Paul assumed the debt of Onesimus when he wrote in Philemon 1:18, But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.

"Charge it to my account" is used in the Bible with legal reference to our sin and salvation.
God imputes or accredits the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner while he is still in his sinning state.

2 Corinthians 5:21, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In theological terms, we speak of a double imputation that takes place in justification. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
This verse clearly states that,

➢ Our sin is imputed to Christ.
➢ We are the offending party.
➢ He is guiltless.
➢ He perfectly kept the law.
Yet, on the cross, God poured out His wrath on Christ. Why?

Because our sin was imputed to Christ. Christ took upon Himself our sin. Our great debit was put on His account. Christ paid the horrific penalty as the cup of God’s wrath was poured out upon Him.

There is also a second imputation.
Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.
He not only takes our debit, but we also get His credit.
Christ paid the penalty we could never satisfy!
He kept the law perfectly, which we can’t do either.
God credits to us His righteousness.
We stand before God clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

We can say that we are saved by works, not at all by our works, but instead by Christ’s works!
His perfect obedience, on our behalf.

One theologian said that two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are for us. Jesus lived and died and rose again, for us. All of His work was done on our behalf.

God has manifested His righteousness apart from the Law.

Romans 3:21-22, But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

Why? The reason for this judicial standing before a righteous God is because we have “all sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The foundation upon which God can justify the believing sinner who is still in his sinning state is because this justification is “a gift.

Romans 3:24-25, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

From God's perspective, righteousness or sin is charged to an individual's personal account.
  • Jesus kept the law,
  • Atoned for sin,
  • Satisfied God’s wrath,
  • Took our filthy rags and
  • His righteous robe.


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