Yesterday in my Shakespeare class, my professor brought up the term “imputed righteousness.” This is how he described it: “Mankind is irredeemably sinful and does not deserve to be saved, but God, purely out of grace and generosity [and through Jesus Christ, though he didn’t explicitly say that], chooses to pretend that we are righteous so we can go to heaven.”
This may or may not be the actual definition of the term, and he might have just had poor word choice that day, but the way he said it got me thinking. Because that word “pretend” really really bothers me.
Overall, the concept is good, that by grace we have been saved, not by works. That there’s nothing we can do to get to heaven, but God must — and does — save us. I understand that. I believe that. I know that to be true.
But God doesn’t pretend that we’re righteous. He makes us righteous.
How can we ever expect to walk in victory if we go through our life dwelling on the fact that we are sinners and unworthy of Christ’s love and salvation?
It’s not like God’s up there going, “Oh, you’re a sinner… But you know what I’ll do? If you believe in me, I’ll just pretend you’re a saint, then you’ll be a-okay and can come into heaven.”
No, we become saints when we give our lives over to Christ! His blood not only covers us, it transforms us. He makes us holy. We don’t have to live a life bound to the flesh anymore but can walk in the freedom of the Spirit.
To impute actually means to attribute, to credit. God attributes His righteousness to us. He clothes us with it. He gives us the righteousness that we cannot get for ourselves. He doesn’t pretend that we’re in right standing with Him, He makes it that way.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21