Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Imputed Righteousness

The other side of original sin is imputed righteousness. Some of the reformers argued that because Adam’s sin was imputed to us, Jesus righteousness can be imputed to us too. We share the guilt for Adam’s sin though we did not do it, so we can share Jesus righteousness, even though we are sinful.

The flaw in this argument is that justification is a legal term associated with the courtroom. A judge who has led a good life cannot make a man he has found guilty of a crime to be innocent by giving him some of his own goodness. The goodness of one man cannot cancel out another man’s crime. The judge’s goodness cannot be imputed to the criminal to nullify his crime.

What the judge can do is pay the penalty for the crimes of the guilty man. He could agree to pay the fines for the criminal. In the extreme case, he could offer to die in the criminal’s place, if the sentence was the death penalty. A judge cannot give a criminal his goodness, but he can pay the penalties for his crime.

This is what Jesus did. He could not transfer his goodness to us, but he could pay the penalty for our sin. The accuser and the rest of the spiritual powers of evil demanded blood for human sins. Jesus offered his blood shed on the cross. They had to accept it, because it was human blood.

Once the penalty was paid, our sin is cancelled out and we become righteous again, because there is no charge of sin against us. The accuser has no basis for accusing us, because all past and future sins were covered by Jesus’ blood. God the judge can declare us to be righteous.

“Impute” is an accounting term, not a legal term. It means that something is counted as if it were something else. Once the penalty for our sin has been paid, we are counted as being righteous, because Jesus has paid the penalty, not because his righteousness has been put into us.

Note: Jesus death was directed primarily towards the spiritual powers of evil. Hey demand blood, so God gave it to them to salience them. God was happy to forgive humans because he loved us, but the spiritual powers of evil, and especially Satan, demanded the implementation of full justice.

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