Justification: Imputation

JUSTIFICATION – IMPUTATION by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  When I was in the final year of high school, my dad sent me away for the summer to a special school to get special tutoring. If I’m not wrong, he opened a bank account for me and deposited money in there and assured me that there was plenty there for me to use during my stay. All I had to do was withdraw as I had need. So also, God has done the same for us but much more. We are in our third message in our series titled Justification, and today’s message is called “IMPUTATION.” Main point: The moment I place my faith in Jesus and accept His gift of salvation, God makes a transaction called Imputation. He takes my sins and puts them on Christ’s account, and He takes Christ’s righteousness and puts it on my account. At that very instant, He declares me “righteous.” I am “justified.” Now when God sees me, He sees Christ.

Romans 4      23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

Context: Last weekend we learned that the moral law of God did not come into this world when God gave his 10 commandments through Moses. It was there from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the first man Adam broke the law of God and opened the flood gate of sin into this world. To understand this, let’s jump to Romans 5:12, and then we will back up to Romans 4:23 and go forward. Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Physical death came to all of us as well. Why? Because we were in Adam. All of us are part of Adam’s race, and we have inherited the same problem of sin as Adam. Romans 5:13 “(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Some people have misunderstood that to mean that sin was not taken into account until God gave the law through Moses. How about Noah’s Flood? How about Sodom and Gomorrah? Keep in mind the distinction between the moral law that was there from the beginning and the ceremonial/civil law that was given through Moses. Of course, the various sins were not clearly distinguished and assigned punishment until the laws and the commandments were given at Mount Sinai, but God’s punishment of death was already meted out from the beginning. Also, for what its worth, the word for imputing here in Romans 5:13 is “ellogeo,” which is not the same as in Romans 4:23-24 and other places “logizomai.” Romans 5      14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. All that is the bad news, but here’s the good news – there’s another race, the race of the seed of the woman, the race of the Promised One. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

Let’s recap for a moment—All us were born into Adam’s race. Our father Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. He chose to disobey God and eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when God had expressly warned him not to and he sinned. When he sinned, a fundamental change came into his character and he became a sinner. Because of his disobedience, it says, “sin entered the world” and we became sinners by nature. What is the solution? We need to switch families. We need to come out of the family of sin and disobedience to a family of grace and obedience. 

  • The first Adam stood in the Garden of Eden and said—“My will be done,” the last Adam knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and said—“Your will be done.”
  • The first Adam lived in disobedience to the moral law of God; the last Adam lived a life of perfect obedience to the law of God.
  • The first Adam was cursed and kicked out of the Garden; the last Adam—Jesus—humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

How does all this connect with Justification and Imputation? Let’s back up to Romans 4, the passage we read in the opening. 23 “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

When you come to God as you are without try to bring your works, then God through His grace does what is called imputation. It takes place in two steps:

  1. First, God imputes our sins on Christ.
  2. Second, God imputes the righteousness of Christ on our account.

This is very important to understand. If all God did was impute my sins on Christ, my sins would be forgiven but I would be neutral towards God. We would be like Adam and Eve before they sinned. But God not only forgave me of my sins, but He also gave me the righteousness of Christ. He declares me righteous. Now when God sees me, he no longer sees a sinner. He sees Christ. Where does this righteousness come from? It is from Christ’s obedience throughout his life and his obedience in death. By the way, this was prophesied in Isaiah 53. Before we jump to verse 5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed,” we need to start in verse 2 “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.” As a result, verse 12 “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” This is clearly laid out in Philippians 2         5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

All this was accomplished in our justification. The word in Greek is “dikaio.” It is a declaration. It is a verdict. It is forensic. It is a courtroom term. As a result, we are now clothed in his righteousness. Colossians 3       8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” At the same time, we are also commanded to put on Christ daily. Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Now come the benefits of all this:


Romans 5     1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Because of what Christ did on the cross, now we can have peace with God. By the way—that peace is very important. Our relationship with God is the first and most important relationship in life. If that relationship is broken, every relationship will suffer.

For e.g. Like in marriage—If Nicole and I are at odds with each other, my whole day is ruined. Right men? If you are bitter toward your wife, it will eat like a cancer in your own life and heart. That’s why, if you had a squabble with your wife, you cannot do your work properly that day. This works with regard to the wife toward the husband as well.

Application: This morning your relationships are in a mess. There’s always some conflict somewhere. What you need first is “peace with God.” Unless you have that peace, every relationship in your life will be a mess.


Romans 5     2“through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Background: Making peace with God is not just that God and I are no longer fighting but, now, by faith, I am allowed to come and stand in grace. What is grace? It is God’s unconditional acceptance of me. Before I was standing in condemnation but now I am standing in grace; before I was standing in my good works but now I am standing in grace.

“and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Meaning: Not only that I am standing in grace but I am looking forward to more to come. God is going to share His glory with me.

Application: When you and I understand that we are standing in that grace, it will change the way you see life. We are so precious to Him that one day we will even share in His glory. How wonderful is that! One reason why people suffer from depression and doubts and anxieties, it’s because they have yet to see themselves the way God sees them.

What happens when you understand that you are standing in grace? You also change the way you see other people. You start seeing them through the eyes of grace.


3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, 

Background: Just because you are saved does not mean that you are exempt from trials. Trials are part of life for every human being—saved and unsaved. Paul is not saying that I am going to thank God in the midst of trials; Paul is not saying that I am going to thank God in spite of my trials; he is saying that I thank God for my trials.

Why is he thanking God for his trials? knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Let’s look at them a step at a time:

1st.  Trials produce Perseverance. Each time you go through a trial and you hang in there, your endurance gets stronger and stronger. Many people run at the first sign of trouble—“I can’t take this.” “Someone else needs to handle this one.” But if you hang in there long enough, you will get through it. But perseverance is not the desired outcome. There are lots of people in this world who have patience.

2nd.  Perseverance produces Character. That word “character” is hard to define. It literally means “a tested life.” Don’t misunderstand that. Some people think that trials are God’s way of testing me and exposing all the bad that is in me. To some extent that is true. God will put you through the fire to refine you and bring all the dross to the surface and remove it but that is just one side of trials. The other side is where God is producing the character of Jesus Christ in you.

3rd.  Character produces Hope. God’s purpose in trials is to get us to stop worrying about the earthly and start looking at the spiritual. We think that this financial crisis or this health issue or this relationship problem is going to destroy us. God is saying – “I want you to stop putting your hope in things that will disappoint your and start trusting in me.”

5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Every time you come against a disappointing issue, it gives God the opportunity to remind you how much He loves you. The common problems that people suffer with are – broken relationships, poor self-worth, and disappointments. These bring depression, doubts, and anxieties. Justification by faith is God’s answer to each of these problems. The Holy Spirit does for us what he was sent to do. Our job is to surrender by faith.

Are you saved? Do you understand the justification by faith through Christ?

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