Imputation, Absolute Righteousness, and Justice
Adam's Sin Resulted in Our Position in God
If people really understood the full consequences of Adam's sin, they would never imagine that
they could possibly reach God and eternal life in Heaven by some efforts of their own. Once you understand what happened to all of
us because of Adam's sin, you understand that there is no way that a human being can correct the problem that exists.
There is a barrier between sinful man and a holy God, and it cannot be removed by any kind of human goodness, human effort, human ritual
of any kind. The wall of separation between God and man can never be breached by man on his own. Therefore, we are all by nature doomed
to an eternity in the Lake of Fire. Once you understand that, you've made the first step toward Heaven. There is no way to get around
the wall that Adam's sin erected between each of us and God.
When we're born, please remember Romans 5:12 tells us that we bear
Adam's guilt because he was the head of the race. He acted in our behalf. Just as Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek and recognized him
as a priest of the most high God. Therefore the Melchizedek priesthood, which is the priesthood of Jesus Christ of which we are
a part, is in Scripture described as being superior to the Aaronic priesthood. It is a superior priesthood because Aaron descended from Abraham, and Abraham was
in subjection to Melchizedek, a superior priesthood. But Aaron didn't do that yet. God's federal headship principal, Aaron, was in subjection
to the Melchizedek Priesthood.
So the same principle applies that Adam is viewed by God as our federal head.
What he does, we do. When the federal government of the United States does something, all of the states do it too. Automatically what
our federal head does, the rest are equally responsible for. They bear the consequences.
God Solved the Problem
So this is the principle here in spiritual
things, that we are born into the human race bearing Adam's guilt. And our separation from God is there and there's no way it can be
removed by human effort. However, the happy side of that story is that the Bible reveals that God Himself has done something to remove
the wall of separation, while at the same time retaining His Holiness, His personal integrity. Now, I stress to you that that was the
hardest thing that God has to do for a human being, how to take a sinner into Heaven and still not compromise His own holiness. He
has done that. There's nothing else in your life that can be a bigger problem that God cannot solve equally well.
Man's Faulty Reasoning
However, there is
so much ignorance about what God teaches in the Bible about His salvation provision, that people desperately create their own very
own ways of trying to get to God. They're always wrong.
First of all, they can't do anything to please God. The sin nature has tainted
everything that they do. Yet, without information, the Old Testament says my people perish for lack of knowledge. Where's the knowledge
supposed to come from? It's supposed to come from the pulpit through the Scriptures to the world, to the people who come to church and
listen and who are reached in various ways. Religious leaders are looked to as authorities, and they are the people who speak for God.
Yet their words very often, by and large, are their own rationalizations. They very often are ignorant of Scripture, or they ignore
what the Word of God has to say.
I was watching Good Morning America the other morning, and they brought on the deck a rabbi and a
Roman Catholic Monsignor priest.
They're periodically on that program. They're called the God Squad, and they were being interviewed on religious biblical questions
by children. So one child came up to ask the God Squad. Well their answers prove that they had a total lack
of knowledge of the Word of God, or at least a lack of respect for the revelation of God in Scripture. It became evident, as it almost
does every time I get to see them, that they are not really the God Squad. They're not the God Squad of the creator of the universe;
but what they are is the representative of a different god, the usurper of God, Satan. They should be called the Devil Squad. However,
the children came up and asked the questions.
The first child asked about cats going to Heaven. It's always a good one. I love that one. The rabbi
came right in and said, "Oh, yes. Your cat will be in Heaven, and they will have a special place in Heaven where there won't be any
dogs. It'll be a lot of fun with your kitty in Heaven." Now, this is an authority. This is a rabbi. This is somebody who speaks for
Another child asked the reason for water baptism. The Roman Catholic priest took this over and I said, I'm going to be interested in
seeing how he answers that. He gave it platitudes, where you get your name, and you get it associated, identified with your family and
with your religion.
And he carried on like that. But he never once proclaimed Roman Catholic doctrine on this subject-which is that your water baptism
washes away your moral guilt from Adam's sin and you become a child of God. It's Work's Salvation by our human work, a ritual of water
baptism, which isn't even baptism, it's just water sprinkling. But he never touched that. He just made it kind of a social custom, which
very often infant baptism is today, a big party.
Another child asked what one does in Heaven. Oh, the rabbi jumped in on
that one. He said, "Oh, you get up there, you meet your friend, they check you out, they check you in, and then they assign somebody to show
you around the place. And you see this and you see that." But he couldn't say, you'll meet the Lord Jesus Christ, you'll meet the Son of God. You'll meet the
one who made it possible for you to be in Heaven, because the rabbi himself is not going to be in Heaven. How ironic. This man who rejects
the Lord Jesus Christ is explaining Heaven to this child, Heaven that the rabbi himself never read about in Scripture, obviously, and
doesn't know anything about, and will never see.
And another child asked why there were so many religions.
This was the top question. This was the coup de gras of the whole Devil Squad performance. The rabbi said, "Oh, you see? It's like in
the world, if there was only one food to eat, it would be very monotonous. So God has all these different ways of approaching Him, religions, so it's not so monotonous." That gives you a chill, doesn't it? Millions of people are listening to this. Kids are listening to this.
Different roads to Heaven, so it's not so monotonous? He's not even on the road to Heaven!
I just wish I could have interjected the picture on our evangelism brochure on that television screen and say, here's the two roads ahead.
Here's the two roads that you'll follow. It's the only two there are. Not one word of biblical truth was spoken by these two religious authorities, yet millions were lulled into thinking it's not all that bad
a problem between God and man, so not to worry. But it is a bad problem. It is a very, very big problem, indeed.
The Blocks in the Wall Thus Far
The problem is that
there is a wall that exists between a holy God and a sinful man.
This wall has been removed block by block by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. There was first of all, the block of
man's entrapment in the slave market of sin. Satan owns you when you're born in the human race. You're his slave; you cannot do anything
else. The Lord Jesus Christ paid the price of redemption and that block was removed.
Secondly, there's a block of one's moral guilt.
You're born with a guilt of the evil that you inherited from Adam's guilt and your own. The Lord Jesus Christ when He died on cross removed that by expiation. He blew it out.
Third block was spiritual death from the Old Sin Nature. You cannot approach God if you're
spiritually dead. You cannot even understand spiritual things I just told you, including you wouldn't even understand the gospel because
that's a spiritual truth. Except that's the one place that God the Holy Spirit comes into a human mind and He makes it clear. It's the only
thing the Holy Spirit does for an unsaved person. So Christ removed that spiritual death by regeneration. He made us spiritually alive.
Then there is a block of the holiness of God. That has two facets to it. There is first of all, the perfect justice of God. Then there
is the absolute righteousness of God. God's justice was resolved by propitiation. The death of Christ on the cross satisfied the just
demands of God that death be the price of sin. And He solved the problem of absolute righteousness by imputation.
He imputed to our credit the absolute righteousness of Jesus Christ. So that block has been removed.
Now, this is what we're interested
in, this absolute righteousness. Because people think that by being good, they can make it into Heaven. But human righteousness is never
perfect. So man cannot ever meet the divine demands of an absolute righteousness equal to that of Jesus Christ. Some people indeed
are better morally than other people, but all are sinners. All fall short of God's absolute righteousness standard. Thus, there
is no one born into the human race who is or can become God's absolute righteousness. So no one can qualify for Heaven. The Bible says
"there is none righteous, no, not one." So you see what I mean when I say if people really understood what happened in the Garden of Eden, what
Adam did, they wouldn't even dream of trying to come up with a way to make it on their own with God.
The Extent of Man's Imperfect Righteousness
Now, the extent of imperfect righteousness
is total. We don't have time this morning to go through the extensive Scripture, I'll just mention them to you, but all classes of humanity
fall short of God's standard of absolute righteousness. I say that because some people think there are some people who qualify, others who do not. You mention a Mother Teresa, and Bingo, you've got somebody who qualified; no, she doesn't. The greatest
of the reformers qualify; no, they don't.
Nobody qualifies for absolute righteousness by something which they have done.
First of all, for example, there's the immoral person.
Everybody says, yeah, we know those low dogs, they're not going to qualify for absolute righteousness. But the apostle Paul who wrote
Romans, zeroed in on these people right off the bat. Romans 1:18-32, you may read it on your own, it's an extended passage. But all that
that section says is that immoral people do not have God's standard of righteousness. They are violators of the moral code of God and
their evil is complete. There is no exaggeration about the fact that they are doomed. So there's no problem there that certainly those
who are immoral, unsaved people, they do not have absolute righteousness.
Then there's the unsaved moral person. It's a little tougher.
In Romans 2:1-16, the apostle Paul describes the moral unsaved person. This person claims to have a certain human
goodness and is better than other people's goodness. But it's not enough for God's standard of absolute goodness. That's why Isaiah,
64:6 says your righteousnesses are as filthy rags in God's sight. His sins, this person sins, a moral unsaved person sins, may be more
refined than others. These are the people who go around with a lot of self-righteousness because we can't see their minds and they're
shot through with mental attitude sins. Mental attitude sins are the worst, because that's where overt sins begin. That's what triggers
So here these people walk around looking really good in the eyes of people, but they're condemned in the eyes of God.
the toughest person of all, the unsaved religious person. Jesus commented about these people. He said most of the human race is made
up of religious people who are unsaved, who have not trusted in Christ as Savior. These people are on a broad road, Jesus said, that
leads to destruction. But He said only a few, therefore, of the human race, actually become born again. They actually find the narrow
gate which is Christ, and that small gate which is Christ, and that narrow road which is Christ that leads to eternal life. In Romans 2:17-3:8, the apostle Paul describes this condition, the religious self-righteous Pharisee type
impressed with his own religious deeds and his own taboos. Yet these people, which look so good in the eyes of the other people of
Israel and they were looked up to, the Lord Jesus Christ said don't let them fool you. He said these religious people without Christ are no better
than the immoral person or the moral person who is self-righteous.
In Matthew 5:20 Jesus said, "For I say to you, that unless your
righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven." That's a modest little term.
Matthew 5:20 was a startling statement for people to be told this, that their religious leaders are not righteous enough to go to Heaven,
and you're going to have to be better than the best of your scribes and Pharisees. That was inconceivable. But the truth was that all
they had was the smug religious person who goes through his routines and his taboos, and he thinks he has something great.
But a person who actually understands the righteousness of God realizes what God is really like. He will have the attitude that's expressed
in Job 42:5-6. "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; [Job says to God] but now my eye sees Thee. Therefore I retract, and I
repent in dust and ashes." Job, understandably, because of his suffering, really got discouraged and he began to say things critical of
God. And he began complaining to God saying this is unfair and You shouldn't be treating me this way. Suddenly God reveals Himself in all of His righteousness
and perfection to Job. And Job says what was I thinking? Job says what a fool I am; that God who is righteous would do wrong, that I
could criticize Him, that I could challenge Him on what He has said, that I could challenge Him on anything that is written
in His Scriptures. So Job said, I repent in dust and ashes.
Isaiah said the same thing. Isaiah 6:5 [is] when Isaiah got hold of the realization
of the nature of the righteousness of God. Isaiah 6:5, "Then I said, 'Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of
unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord [Yahweh] of hosts [of the Angelic Army
And Isaiah, a genuine man of God, was just crushed in the presence of God at his own lack of righteousness. So there is no way that man
can meet this problem of removing the relative righteousness with which we live when God requires absolute righteousness by His holiness
for Heaven. Man left to himself to solve this problem would be hopelessly doomed. He just couldn't do it.
How Man Can Secure God's Absolute Righteousness
But the cross of the Lord
Jesus Christ is a place where one finds the answer for securing this kind of righteousness. In Romans 3:21-22 Paul says, "But now,"
after listing all these people, the classes of human beings, the downright immoral character, the religious character with
his self-righteous pretensions, the moral man in his smug ways, all of them unsaved. He says, "But now apart from the Law the righteousness
of God [not the relative righteousness of the immoral, the moral, or the religious person, but the absolute righteousness of God] has
been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, "even the [absolute] righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction." So the answer is believing.
Believing what; believing the gospel. What is the gospel?
Christ has died for our sins, the debt has been paid, it was confirmed by His resurrection, He is ready to be our Savior, He will cover
our sins if we accept that as a gift.
If you have it, you are born again.
It was Romans 1:17 that triggered the Reformation in the mind of Martin Luther. When he read "For in it
[the righteousness, for in it the salvation by the power of God through the gift of the grace of God, for in it] the righteousness of God
is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.'" From faith, a God kind of righteousness
comes from faith to the one who has faith. From faith in Christ, one receives the results of faith, the absolute righteousness of God.
When Luther read that, he said, wait a minute, everything my Roman Catholic Church has taught me has been the opposite of this. I've
been told that it's what I do that gets me into Heaven. But that is not true. Suddenly the light burst and Luther had the sin and
the burden roll off his back. Suddenly he realized that it was faith in Christ who's already done the job.
Now you understand that and you
might think that you're glad that you had enough sense to do that. But you didn't. Scriptures say there is none righteous, there's none
that seek after God, none that seek after God. The only reason you understand this, is because God made it clear to you and He
enables you to believe it.
So consider yourself privileged. That mass of human beings on that broad road to eternal destruction have no claim on God. They have
no claim for salvation. It is only when He chooses to make it clear.
Now when he's done that, what kind of a life should you live? "How
then should we live?" is the phrase from the Old Testament. Francis Schaffer, the Christian philosopher, made a series of enormously
marvelous films on "How Then Should We Live." In these films he traced; the progress of Christianity and human civilization, the consequence
of what God has done in the sin cast world, all the expressions in art and in architecture and in human relationships, in government,
in education, and the Word of God and the impact that it has. It is my plan to show you that in a series of special Sunday nights, those
magnificent films "How Then Should We Live," and walk through history and see what the impact has been of Christianity on whom and those
that God has chosen and to whom He gave absolute righteousness?
The Solution for Imperfect Righteousness-Imputation
So what's the solution for imperfect righteousness? The moral bankruptcy
of man, sin, puts us in moral debt to God, and we can't earn any way to pay it. We're born in the red, and we cannot earn the moral assets
necessary to pay up what we owe God. So the provision is the doctrine of imputation.
What God did was He imputed to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ by assuming our debt. And the means by which absolute righteousness
is imputed to us we call the doctrine of justification. Justification means that you're as good as Jesus Christ in the eyes of God.
Your account has been justified. Your debt has been removed. All issues have been rectified that were against you. You stand before
God as perfect as Jesus Christ. So you see why I say if anybody understands what happened and what Adam did to us, they wouldn't ever
even dream about trying to come up with a solution. Those that understand throw their hands up and go to God, what am I going to do? And He's told us
what He has done to solve the problem.
Why Imputation is Necessary
Imputation means charging your debt to someone else. This word is used of the category of imputed
sin that I mentioned a little while ago. The sin of Adam has been imputed to all of us. Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as
through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin." Oh, wait a minute! Adam sinned; the penalty is death. We understand
that. But why do the rest of us die? How about a little baby who doesn't sin? Why does a baby die who hasn't done any sin? Because
he's guilty of Adam's moral guilt. Our federal head condemned us all.
So through one man, sin entered the world and death through sin upon us all. So death spread to all men because all sinned. A baby sinned?
Yes, in Adam, that's the principle. So imputation means taking everybody's sin, from Adam's guilt on, and placing our sins to the account
of Jesus Christ on the cross. After Adam, the only person ever born into the human race who did not bear Adam's moral guilt was the
Lord Jesus Christ. In His humanity, because His was a birth without a human father thus the genetic structure that transmits the Old Sin Nature to the child through the father not through the mother was bypassed, Christ was born without Adam's moral guilt. He had
no guilt of sin of His own. Imputation describes placing our sins to the account of Jesus Christ on the cross.
That's what Isaiah was
speaking about in the famous passage of Isaiah 53:4. "Surely our griefs [our griefs or our sicknesses] He Himself bore, and our sorrows
[or our pains] He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted." "Surely our griefs He Himself bored" means
He carried what was not His own, what was placed upon Him because it was our guilt. It was our grief, it was our sorrows, the consequence
of our sin, not of His. And how did our grief and sorrows come to be on the Lord Jesus Christ?
How were they placed upon Him? Isaiah 53:5-6: It was done by imputation when He was on the cross. God the Father placed our
guilt on Him as He bore our sins from 12 noon until 3 o'clock.
Isaiah 53:5-6, "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He
was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like
sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."
What could be clearer? "The iniquity of us all to fall on Him."
So, you see, it's not unkind for us to say that the rabbi has no business on the God Squad talking to people about how to get to Heaven when he
himself is never going to get there. Unless, by the grace of God, he is touched with the illuminating knowledge that Christ is the Savior, that his iniquity has been borne by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that if he accepts that substitute, he is free to enter Heaven.
If he doesn't grasp that, if he doesn't accept that, he will never see Heavens shores.
Old Testament Ritual Reflected Christ's Sacrifice
The Old Testament ritual reflected this in the
placing of the hand of the sinner on the sacrificial animal to symbolize the imputation of the person's sins. I'm bringing my animal
sacrifice to the priest. I put my hand on this animal, and I therefore impute to him my moral guilt symbolically, as this animal is
symbolically representing Christ is going to die for my sins. So too, God placed His hand upon His Son with our sins, our sins to Him.
This is beautifully illustrated in Philemon i
n the case where the apostle Paul is pleading for the runaway slave Onesimus, who became a Christian under Paul's ministry. Philemon
verses 17-19 Paul says, "If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me." Paul is saying to Philemon, the master, if you regard me as a partner in God's work, I want you to accept
Onesimus as you would accept me. Treat him the way you would treat me. "But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account." That's how God handled the problem of His Holiness, the absolute righteousness facet. Charge that to My
account. It was charged to the account of Christ. "I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it."
I Paul write this with my own hand. I will repay it. You accept Onesimus, Philemon, as a brother in Christ, and if he owes you
anything, I'll be his substitute and I'll pay for it. That's all the Lord Jesus Christ did. Now, when Onesimus arrived,
came back to Philemon with this letter, Philemon says I forgive you Onesimus and what you have done, and I forgive what you owe, we're square.
could Onesimus have done? He could have refused to accept it. Philemon would say you don't understand. You don't owe me anything. You
can't pay me back. You're a slave. You don't have anything. Paul has covered everything for you. Onesimus could have insisted that
he was still guilty, that he still owed him if he didn't believe him. That's what most of the human race does. God says, I've covered everything
for you. I removed the wall and you can step across now because in place of the wall, there's the cross of Christ. Come on over. But they won't
They have their own way. They've got nothing but God Squad type of people teaching them. You can see why that is.
The Problem With the Human Race
You see, people are
always wanting to change the implication of Scripture. I get hit so often by people who say, well, that's what you're interpreting
Scripture to say. I go back and I look in Scripture and it says, that's just the way it is. That's the very words sure enough. And
people are always readjusting Scripture and saying it's the same thing as what the Bible says. No, it isn't.
And this is the problem with the human race until the Spirit of God gives them the understanding.
Namely, Jesus Christ paid for our
sins, which brings us forgiveness. But he also ensures a permanent moral solvency by imputing to us its absolute righteousness. You see,
it is not enough to have your sins forgiven to go to Heaven. If that's all that happened, you'd never get there? That's just your
moral guilt removed. That's not going to take you there. You still have another problem. You're not good enough. You're not good enough
to go to Heaven. So it's not enough to tell an unsaved person you accept Christ as your savior, your sins will be forgiven. Because the
Bible says you have to have one other thing. You have to also have the imputation of His absolute righteousness. And that is also what God does. 2 Corinthians 5:21, magnificent verse, "He [God the Father] made Him [God the Son] who knew no sin to be sin on our
behalf, [imputed our sin to him] so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [that we would have the absolute righteousness
of God given to us, swapping God's righteousness for our sin]."
Many Christians Fail to Live to Potential
Christians, therefore, are all spiritual billionaires, and yet so many
are living on spiritual welfare.
How many Christians do you know in a normal run of their "churchianity" know the depths of walking with the power of God, know the
depths of walking where Christ is in you, is sounding off? Some of you have learned what I referred to as that intuitive direction,
that intuitive thought. I tell you, it gets creepier all the time. The younger you are, the sooner you learn this, then the
more magnificent life you will have. And suddenly, you're not hearing voices, but boy, the thought is so clear in your mind. And you can brush
it off and ignore it, because the Holy Spirit works very gently.
But if you start paying attention, then you'll discover that you act upon
that direction, and it's right every time. How many times in a day I can testify that an intuitive thought comes to me and I say, "Yes,
Lord. You're right. I should take care of that right now." Or something I left! "Oh, yes, Lord, I almost forgot that. I've got to go back in the house and get that and take it." Or I have a caution thought. "Yes.
OK, Lord, I understand. I'll be on guard against that. I'll keep my eyes open." All of a sudden you find it hard not to talk out loud
so people really know you are crazy. Because suddenly the divine guidance becomes very real.
It's only for the hokey-pokey type that are trying
to live by emotions that they think that they have some reality that really isn't there, people who are readjusting the Word of God
so they can live their own lives without God butting in. Christians are billionaires spiritually, but it doesn't count for a Fig Newton if
there isn't somebody who's explaining it to them, showing them what it means to be a member of the body of Christ, what it is to live
under the power of the Holy Spirit.
So you don't have to be some sneaky little character going around trying to maneuver and manipulate
to get along in life. You can just walk. You can just stand tall in the saddle and march off like the Israelites in the wilderness,
with the cloud of fire of God before you.
God the Holy Spirit - the Christian's Source of Power
God the Holy Spirit permanently in-dwells every believer. Therefore, He is the power source.
He becomes a power source when you understand principles of doctrine, such as we're teaching this morning, and you are in Temporal Fellowship,
all known sins confessed. Then He will bring appropriate Scripture to your mind, and He will give you the intuitive guidance. Some
people are never going to get that, even some Christians. They're dullards, they're going to be religious. They're going to be in
an inane entertainment type of "churchianity." That's all they need. They want to go from one seminar to the next.
They love seminars, the lowest kind of Christian loves seminars. And usually those poor people don't have anybody who's teaching
them the Word. So they go to try to pick it up someplace else.
God has given us a blank check in 1 John 1:9. That is your power
connection to the Spirit of God. Keep those known sins confessed. He is faithful and just. He is faithful, He'll do it every time. He's
just, Christ has paid for that sin. That's the doctrine and the grace system works. We have promises, something like seven-thousand promises
in the Bible to believers, all of them usable only now. Once you get to heaven, they're null and void. We have promises left and right.
prayer provided to enable you to have the divine guidance you need. The Jews would have loved to have the system of life that we Christians
have with the age of grace, with a permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and not the least of which, you're your own priest.
You represent only yourself before God. What other people do is none of your business. They are not the people that you are to be responsible
for. Your responsibility is to give them the information. Then after that, they are on their own. But you are your own priest. That
means you have great freedom to be able to use your life to the glory of God. Or you can be as some groveling little ant, that somebody
just wants to step on, or some little slimy lizard.
I opened the back door to let my little dog Gretchen last night before I went to bed. Before she came bounding in, a slimy
little lizard ran into the kitchen. And he went scooting about. The first stomp on the floor and he knew he was in bad shape, and I
stomped again. The sucker got away from me. And I stomped. And pretty soon I'm doing a dance like you wouldn't believe over that kitchen
floor, a real fandango. Finally, he made the wrong turn and I got him. His tail snapped off and it kept wiggling and jumping around
in his final throes of death. Little Gretchen looks around the corner, says, what's going on in here? And that lizard is thrown out.
Christians are spiritual billionaires and they live like slimy lizards because nobody is a shepherd to the sheep of God, by and
large. Jesus said that's how it's going to be, a harvest of people who are ready to say yes but who refuse to pay attention
and just want to work with the negatives.
So we've got great promises, great techniques of the Christian life, and that is a tremendous
series of our tapes. You ought to have that in prayer.
Imputation is God's method of bookkeeping. It is God's way of telling you that
you're free to accept or reject it on any page of your ledger. He has imputed to you absolute righteousness. So live accordingly.
Now, justification is a way that righteousness comes to us that is declaring that we are in possession of absolute righteousness. Somebody
asks you, "What does justification mean?" It means: that God has given me absolute righteousness, I am now justified in His sight, I have
been vindicated before Him, I am equal to Christ in His esteem of me morally. This is what a judge in a court of law is
guided by. A judge cannot declare somebody guilty if he is innocent. You cannot condemn a person because justice would not be served
if that person doesn't deserve that condemnation. Some criminal cannot say, "Well, I'm innocent, but I'm going to plead guilty, so I'll
get an easy sentence, get out of this and get rid of it." A judge can't do that. If he knows the person is innocent, he violates the Code
Justify the Righteous/Condemn the Wicked
This is a divine principle that God established from the very first. He told the Jews back as far as the Mosaic Code in Deuteronomy
25:1, "If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn
the wicked." They justify the righteous. They condemn the wicked. Then it goes on to say what happens to the wicked, what happens to
the righteous? You cannot condemn the righteous. You justify the righteous. You condemn the wicked. God, therefore, has to deal with
sinners on this principle of justice. He has to do this to remain true to His own character.
He must deal with the facts as they are. He cannot say, "Well, My Son has died. He's covered your sins and I'll take you all into Heaven."
That's a Phil Donahue idea. But God is not going to do that, because if you are guilty and you have not met the requirements of accepting
forgiveness by faith in Christ, then that guilt stays upon you and you suffer the consequences.
Parents are often guilty of this. They
love their children so much that their children do something that is wrong, but the parents look the other way. They do not treat them
in justice. They let them get away with murder. Some of them are doing it now in schools. Everybody's wondering why they do it. Because
their parents already at home taught them how to get away with murder, because they did not treat them with justice the consequences
of their acts.
God has to do what is fair. Romans 3:26 raises this very question. Romans 3:26, "for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness [God the Father's righteousness] at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." The verse
before says that Christ has been the satisfaction for our sins. Romans 3:23 summarized the problem that God faced, this wall of separation, "
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and God cannot declare somebody who is morally guilty to be just. How to bring
about this condition that He can declare somebody else's righteousness who really is, because the penalty has been paid, was the problem to solve.
In the Old Testament, from Adam on, God gave Heaven on credit. He justified people on credit. But God
does not legalize a fiction. Through the death of His Son, He did remove the moral guilt. So Romans 3:24-25 says "being justified as
a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; "whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation [a satisfaction]
in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, [God's righteousness] because in the forbearance of God He passed
over the sins previously committed." He justified people on the basis of what Christ would do in the future. So you see, justification
doesn't alter God's holiness. He is still true to His character. His justice has been satisfied, and His absolute righteousness can
now be imputed. When that is imputed to a person, then that person is justified, and the penalty of Hell is removed from that individual.
Believers receive by imputation the absolute righteousness of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30, "But by His doing you are
in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption." God's declaration
of this right standing as a fact constitutes justification. It's a legal act of God the judge.
One of the most magnificent demonstrations
of this doctrine of imputation, the imputation of God's blessing and righteousness, is none other than the father of the Jewish race,
Abraham himself. We shall pursue that next time.
Dr. John E. Danish, 1999
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