Bible Reading – Romans 5:11-21 NLT
This week I talk about one of the Great Words of the Gospel. I am going to look at a word that is not used very often, but it is a very powerful word that is central to our faith in Christ. The word is Imputation.
The Doctrine of Imputation not only helps understand our need for salvation, it also helps us to understand what Christ has done and what we have because of Christ’s death for us.
In today’s message I want to tell three stories of people I have spoken to over the years. One I was sharing my faith with, one shared a testimony at church and I talked to them afterwards and one was a Christian that needed to understand what we have in Christ. Then I will look at the topic of Imputation and share three things that the Bible tells us about this subject.
Story 1 – The first story is of a man we met when we were out going door to door in Perth. We were in one of the more well to do suburbs and in the main street of the area. It was what they call a dress circle. All the houses were very large, had all the features and backed on to a lake. They were the sort of houses that people talk about they would buy if they won lotto. When we approached the house the owner was out the front mowing his lawn. His lawn mower looked like it cost more than my car (a Mitsubishi Scorpion) and the clothes he was wearing to mow the lawn were better than my Sunday best. He had two cars in the garage – a BMW convertible and a Mercedes 4WD. He had a speed boat and a Harley. He looked very well off. Anyway, we said hello and said we were from the local church going door to door. We talked about faith, life, the Bible, church and Jesus. He talked openly about life and his experience with church as a child, but then he said that he came to the point as adult where he decided he didn’t need God. He explained that he was a good person who gave money to charity, he treated people well and he looked after his family – so he wasn’t a “sinner” like others he knew. He knew about sin and understood Jesus died on the cross for him, but it did not rate in his life. In the end, he turned, pointed to his house and garage and said, “Do I look like I need God?” He thanked us for coming, but basically said, “Thanks, but no thanks”. We went on our way feeling very sad for the man because we knew how much he needed Jesus.
Story 2 – The second story was of a man I met at Church many years ago. He was a nice man in his late 50s who was a fairly new Christian. He shared his testimony of how he had not always been a nice man. He talked of his time in Asia of where he headed up a crime syndicate called the Triads. He was involved in drugs, illegal gambling and having people killed. He talked about how it was nothing for him to have someone killed or even do it himself. He talked about the crimes he was involved with over many years. One day he met someone who shared Christ with him. At first, he wanted to have him killed, but before long he wanted to give his life to Christ. He learned that Jesus could forgive his sin and help him turn his life around, but first he had to confess him sins to God. He decided to include them all. He wrote 13 pages of sins on paper. Thirteen pages of the most horrible things a person could do. He understood Jesus could take them all and He would forgive him, so he wanted to include them all. Jesus did and he turned his life around. So much so that he went to the local Police Commissioner to face justice. The Police Commissioner thought long and hard before deciding to let him go. He saw that his conversion was real and he was relieved to have him off the streets.
Story 3 – The final story is of a lady I met who was a lovely lady in her 40s. She had given her life to Christ about 10 years before and done her best to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. It was not until we talked at a deeper level about her faith and life that she opened up to me. She had received God’s salvation and forgiveness, but she could not forgive herself or see herself as righteous in God’s eyes. You see as a young lady she was heavily involved in drugs and she had worked as a prostitute. During this time, she got pregnant several times and she had abortions. She had no time for kids as she had to keep working to support her habit. While she had received forgiveness from God, this ate away at her soul. She could not see herself as righteous in God’s eyes. She loved the Lord and followed Him wholeheartedly, but could not get passed, her past.
Three stories of three very different people. Three people who needed both God and the forgiveness He offered. Two of them had it, but one needed to believe more of what God had given her. This is where Imputation comes into to my message today.
What is Imputation?
Imputation is another legal word. In the legal world, it is the charging or reckoning something to someone’s account. Imputation takes words or actions and ties them to a person or a cause. It also has implications of transferring something to someone else.
We see Imputation is a very important word for us as Christians because it helps us to understand the Gospel more fully. Imputation has three main implications for us.
1. Adam’s sin is Imputed to us all.
In our reading from today we saw that God imputes Adam’s sin to all other members of the human race. Romans 5:12 tell us that, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned”.
The Bible tells us in Genesis chapter 3 that Adam sinned and was cast out of the garden paradise that God has placed them in. As a result, all mankind since then has become separated from God because we are all descendants of Adam.
The Bible tells us that in our natural state without Christ we have a tendency towards sin, because Adam’s sin brought it into the world. It seems appealing and enticing and we are drawn towards it. It doesn’t matter if it is in word, deed or thought. It is still sin if it is wrong in God’s eyes.
Adam’s sin had both an immediate consequence – being cast out of the garden, and a mediate long term consequence, it spread to all his descendants – us. It was imputed or legally transferred to the entire human race.
The man that I spoke of in the first story did not think he was a sinner personally, but he needed to understand that sin had been transferred to us all from Adam. He could not see his sin, because he put himself on a pedestal in the place of God. When we place ourselves on a pedestal, it is easier to look down at the sin of others and not see our own sin. It is easier to see the speck in others eyes and miss the log in our own eyes. We can see the sin of the world and be blinded to our own. It is my hope and prayer that this man has since seen his own sin and realised that Adam’s sin is passed on to him also. It is my hope that he placed Jesus on the pedestal of his life.
2. Our sin is Imputed to Christ
The second thing the Bible teaches us about Imputation is that our sins are Imputed to Jesus Christ. Central to the message of salvation is the good news that the entire sin of the human race was transferred to Jesus and born by Him on the cross of Calvary.
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.
Jesus lived the perfect sinless life. He was the only one in all history who did live a sinless life. He was the only one who could live a sinless life. That is why His life was the perfect offering for sin. He could be made sin, because He had no sin of His own. He was not part of Adam’s sin because His birth was supernatural from heaven.
From our text today verses 15 and 16 tell us, “But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.  And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.”
The man from the second story understood the good news of the gospel when he wrote down 13 pages of sin that he had committed. He took weeks to compile the list, because he knew all of them were placed on Jesus. He knew Jesus died for him and he wanted to confess as much as he possibly could. He knew God could cleans him and forgive him of everything, because Christ took all his sin. He understood the imputation of his sin to Christ.
3. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.
In the third point, we are going to look at some great news. Not only have our sins been taken by Christ’s death on the cross, we have been given Christ’s righteousness as a replacement. It is a beautiful exchange as the song says.
The last part of our reading says, “17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one Man, Jesus Christ. 18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”
Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. It is credited to our account. We are no longer separated from God with a death sentence upon us. We are right with God and Christ’s righteousness is ours. As I said a few weeks ago, the blood of Jesus covers us completely.
1 Corinthians 1:30 – It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption.
The lady in the third story could not accept this. She believed Jesus died for her, that her sins were forgiven by God, but she could not forgive herself. She held on to her guilt and shame, which did not belong to her any more. The righteousness that Christ offered like in the image on the screen was hers, but she could not bear to put her arms out to receive it. As a result, she lived way below where God wanted her to be.
For us today as Christians we need to understand that not only are our sins forgiven, but Christ’s righteousness is credited to us. I stand here today as a man who knew the depths of depression and the weight of sin. I knew what it was to not forgive myself, but Christ changed that, and I can now say though my sins were as red as crimson, they are now as white as snow. God sees them no more, He just sees the righteousness of Christ. Church, the good news is that it is the same for you too. It is my hope and prayer that you will feel this way too. That you can understand Christ’s righteousness is yours.
Every week in church we face the front and see that stained glass window. We see the image of Christ holding His sheep. I want you to know that the Father in heaven looks at you through the lens of Christ. It is like He looks from outside that window and when He sees you He sees you through the righteousness of Christ. Church, if you have confessed your sins to Him and accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you are the righteousness of Christ. Stand tall, throw your shoulders back, lift your head up high and chose to walk in it today.
Today we looked at one of the key words of the Gospel message – Imputation. We saw that Adam’s sin was imputed to the entire human race. But the good news is God did not leave it that way, our sins were imputed to Christ on the cross where He paid the price. Now we are fully forgiven and free from the penalty of sin and Christ’s righteousness is credited to us. That is some Good News!
Let us pray.