The words of the bible are better experienced than described or defined. However, defining it is wise in that it helps us gain a better understanding of what we experience with God in our faith.
Definition of Imputed or Credited Righteousness
Imputed righteousness is the righteousness of God that is given to accompany the gift of salvation to those whom God has drawn and have repented from rejecting Jesus to accepting Him as the Son of God- the only sacrificial lamb of God that takes away (forgives) the “sin” and sins of all who receive Him into their heart (spirit). This less than split second event regenerates the spirit of man, sanctifies and merges it with holy personage (John 6:44, Ps 32:1-2, Heb 10:10, 14).
The contribution of man to the above event is none other than accepting the beauty of that event as a gift by faith (Eph 2:8). The event is worked by God’s grace alone.
From the above description, we understand that there is a righteousness which is a gift from God. It is the nature of God coming into mortal man. He forgives his “sin” which is his Adamic nature and his present acts of sins which is a result of the inherited sin nature from Adam. God because of Christ’s preordained sacrifice grants regenerated mortal man eternal life to be lived with Him the Almighty eternal God (John 3:16). The enjoyment of that eternal life starts immediately after regeneration (John 3:36).
This event that transpires within the heart of the man who receives Christ establishes him as perfectly righteous (Heb 12:22-23, 10:14, Luke 15:10,). The paramount points about imputed righteousness are that we cannot earn it by doing supposedly righteous acts or obeying the law of commandments and we cannot improve on it.
It is this new holy personage that God has changed the saved (John 3:3 born-again) into that makes the scripture describe the regenerate as new creation (2 Cor 5:17). And everyone who has been changed to a new creation by the washing of the blood of Jesus Christ is also welcomed into a newness of life. The old life of helplessly rejecting or hating God as a result of the Adamic nature which caused the mind to be set on the flesh -sinful instinct- (Rom 8:7, Gal 5:17, Rom 3:9) has now been arrested and defeated through the cross of Christ and His resurrection which we participate in by baptism (Col 2:12). Therefore the loud call is; walk in the newness of life which pleases God by setting the mind on the Spirit (Christ) whose instinct is always to do the Father’s will (Matt 26:41, John 4:34).
It is important to note that the clarion call is not to create a new righteousness by obeying laws but to walk in accordance with the imputed righteousness which is already working in the heart and finding it’s expression in the mind though heavily resisted because it is new to the mind which has been accustomed to enjoying the instinct of the old nature (John 10:27, Rom 12:2, 8:14, Gal 5:17).
Ephesians 2:2 makes it clear that all obedience is a response to the working of spirits in the heart (Matt 12:35). Those that reject Christ and they that set their mind on the flesh will listen to spirits that hate God knowingly or unknowingly. I must stress that when we talk about the righteousness that God demands (His righteousness), all our righteousness at best is like filthy rags. A Good example is that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1). Man’s righteousness is always stained with deceit. Except God’s righteousness was shone on Ananias and Sapphira seeming righteousness no one could have perceived the filthiness of their outward fine works (Isa 64:6). So Rom 8:14 should stop sounding strange or viewed as over spirituality to us. It is the originating point of serving God who is a Spirit (John 4:24)
The imputed righteousness (Jesus Christ) is the nature of God which works in the mind as a law (Rom 10:4). That is why God promised that He will write the law in His people’s minds (Heb 10:16).
The imputed righteousness works in the heart (our spirit) and in our minds (soul) and finds its expression in our bodies like a fruit growing out from a branch nourished from the vine to which it is attached (John15:5) – Without Christ there is no righteousness. You and I must avail ourselves of the grace of God opened to us through Jesus Christ and contend to set our minds on the Spirit which enables us to reciprocate the loving-kindness God has shown to us who are recipients of His salvation. Jesus makes this clear when He said, “If you love me keep my commandments”. Let’s note He said my commandments (Jesus commandments) not the Ten Commandments or better still three hundred and sixty-six commandments given only to the Israelites. Yes! It was given only to the Israelites because the Gentiles were without the law of God (Rom 2:14, Acts 2:23).
The imputed righteousness is for all nations, tribes, peoples and languages that have been called into Christ (Acts 2:39, Rev 7:9). So Jesus (the imputed righteousness 1 Cor 1:30) is one law and culture that cuts across every other culture and to which all people MUST obey. This is why His resurrection afforded us the Holy Spirit that speaks the voice of Christ to God’s sheep. Every sheep of God MUST hear the voice of Jesus with the circumcised ear of the heart or else that sheep is not a sheep indeed but a goat which has no part in the ministry of Jesus Christ (John 10:4-5, Matt 25:32-33).
Having looked at imputed righteousness and seen it is the perfect righteousness of God that cannot be worked for or improved upon, we will look at the newness of life that proceeds from this gift of righteousness that is buried in our Jar of clay (2 Cor 4:6-7, 1 Cor 6:19) in the next post.