Readers Question / Comment -
Is imputed righteousness a lie? Is
it overcoming sin that saves us?
I've written you before just not from this email. Lately
I've had some wavering in my faith. I've been wondering while reading
some scripture, whether we really are imputed with the righteousness of Christ.
The reason being is that there are many scriptures in the new testament that say
things that seem to be the opposite of that.
For instance, when Christ
speaks to the church of Sardis in Revelations he tells them that there will be
some of them who walk with him in white who have not spotted their robes.
not sure how this can be taken any other way than to say that those who do not
use the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin will not make it to heaven.
the verse that speaks of those sowing to the flesh will of the flesh reap
corruption but those that sow to the spirit will reap everlasting life.
are many more as I'm sure you are aware. Not to mention there are 2 verses
I've run across one in Romans and one in something Peter said that spoke of
our past sins being cleansed.
This has started to make me think that
perhaps it's not imputed righteousness but faith in Christ that allows us to
overcome sin that saves us.
For instance the verse that says it is not
of works for it is God who works in you to will and to want to work.
starting to see that different. I'm starting to see it as, since it is God
who wills and wants us to work then these works are HIS works, not our own. So by
allowing him to work these works in us we keep our robes clean and from being
spotted and that is how we are saved by faith in the complete work of Christ. His
blood cleanses us from past sins, His Spirit does the works that are necessary to
overcome the flesh and his blood continues to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
as we walk with him in the light.
In other words it's starting to
look like we are not imputed with righteousness. I'm so scared because my
spiritual life depends on this.
Here is a Youtube video of someone who
is saying the same thing. I tried to defend the faith as I've known it But
find what he is saying the same thing that I've been thinking.
really sorry to put this on you, but if you do have time please pray and help
because I can't see my way right now and I'm really scared.
Thanks for writing in and I understand why you are now feeling
fearful. On the one hand you are worried that what you believed previously
isn't correct so you are concerned about your salvation. On the other hand,
if what you now think might be correct, is correct (that we are not imputed with
the righteousness of Christ but it is faith in Christ that overcomes sins that
save us) then fear is a natural response because who of us, when faced with a
infinitely Holy God, could ever say that we have overcome sin ENOUGH to be
acceptable in His sight? Is it overcome in your life? In your thoughts? In your
heart? Obviously this is a frightening way to live and to base your salvation on
as no one can honestly say that they have overcome enough today, let along what
may happen tomorrow - even though we desire to live righteous lives in Him. In
the end It all leads to 'daisy salvation' where 'He loves me, he
loves me not, He loves me, He loves me not'...
Thankfully the Bible
is clear. God wants believers to KNOW that they have salvation, not to be living
in an uncertain state in limbo. Look at the definite statements made about the
one who believes in Jesus:
1 John 5:10-13 The one who believes in
the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has
made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given
concerning His Son. (11) And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal
life, and this life is in His Son. (12) He who has the Son has the life; he who
does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (13) These things I have
written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know
that you have eternal life.
Look at some of the verses concerning
Yes, you will always find some verses that sound different but that is why
context is important. It is certainly true that a genuine born again believer
should have evidence of that in their life. But we are not to throw out the vast
majority of the scriptures that state the same biblical truth because of some
other verses that we interpret to mean something else (like the man in the video
did - however genuine and zealous he may be.)
Romans and imputed righteousness
You said you were worried about a verse in Romans. Romans is the most theological
book in the New Testament concerning salvation and an important place to study!
And there is so much about the imputed righteousness of Christ in Romans,
especially in chapter 3,4,5. So what does 'inputted' actually mean? It
means to attribute or credit or reckon something to someone or someone's
account. This is EXACTLY what Paul speaks about in Romans to talk about what
Christ has done for us! For example, he uses two of the big names from the Old
Testament, Abraham and David, to show that they were 'imputed' or
'credited' with righteousness by grace and not of works. Look at how
often the word or same thought is used:
Romans 4:1-3 What then shall
we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? (2) For if
Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before
God. (3) For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND
IT WAS CREDITED (OR IMPUTED) TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."
4:4-5 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited (or imputed) to him as a
gift, but as an obligation. (5) However, to the man who does not work
but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
4:6-8 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes
righteousness apart from works: (7) "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds
are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; (8) Blessed is the man to whom
the Lord shall not impute sin."
This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." (23) The words
"it was credited to him" (nb: credited, reckoned, imputed all mean the
same thing - same Greek word 'logizomai') were written not for him
alone, (24) but also for us, to whom God will credit (or impute)
righteousness--for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
for someone to say there is no such thing as imputed righteousness or that it is
a wicked doctrine, as your youtube man did, just goes to show that he
doesn't know what he is actually talking about yet. To him who does not work
but trust God who justified the WICKED, his faith is credited or reckoned or
imputed to him as righteousness. (Rom 4:5) We have seen that both Abraham and
David spoke of the gift of righteousness by grace, apart from works, that is
imputed to us. And Paul says that this is available for us in Christ as well.
Romans chapter 3 laid the foundation that there is no other way that a person can
be righteous in God's sight.
So what of the verses you
You wrote: 'For instance the verse that
says it is not of works for it is God who works in you to will and to want to
work.' - This is actually parts of two different verses that you have
joined into one. They teach that salvation is by grace but that God has prepared
works for us to do and we should allow that salvation that is inward to be
'worked out' (not worked for) through our life.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not
of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (9) not as a result of works, so that no
one may boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Philippians 2:12-13 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not
as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation
with fear and trembling; (13) for it is God who is at work in you, both to will
and to work for His good pleasure.
I write about this here if
You spoke of the Church in Sardis in Revelation 3
Revelation 3:1-4 "To
the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and
the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that
you are alive, but you are dead. (2) 'Wake up, and strengthen the things
that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed
in the sight of My God. (3) 'So remember what you have received and heard;
and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a
thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. (4) 'But you
have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will
walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
I understand why this
can cause confusion but we need to remember that the seven churches of Revelation
2 and 3 were not only different churches at the time of John in the first century
but also spoke of church ages throughout the ages. They also contain, as all
churches do, both true and false 'Christians'. So what of Sardis?
Sardis is the DEAD church in the list. We aren't talking about believers
with a living faith here. We are talking about people that had a name that they
were something but were actually dead. And again, as Revelation is a prophetic
book Sardis represents a church age. Historically this speaks of the Protestant
churches that came out of the Reformation like the Lutheran, Presbyterian,
Anglican etc. They had a good start, they had a valid name, but given time many
of them became DEAD! That is not to say all were dead within them. Jesus said
there are some within them that walk with Him in white (the white robes in
Revelation are a picture of salvation as indicated by Rev 7:14 - they are washed
white in the blood of the lamb.) But many in this church and church age had a
dead religion only. Being an overcomer involves a true active belief in the Lord
Jesus, not a dead faith as these had.
1 John 5:4-5 for everyone
born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world,
even our faith. (5) Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that
Jesus is the Son of God.
You also mentioned Gal 6:8. It is good to
read it in its whole context which is about giving (both before and after the
verse) and the results in this life:
Galatians 6:6-10 Anyone who
receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
(7) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (8) The
one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction;
the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
(9) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a
harvest if we do not give up. (10) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do
good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Bible Believers Commentary states well on this:
6:8 Although it is
true in a general sense that we reap whatever we sow, it should be noticed that
this reminder follows an exhortation on Christian giving. Viewed in that light,
we see that sowing to the flesh means spending one's money on oneself,
one's own pleasures and comforts. Sowing to the Spirit is using one's
money for the furtherance of God's interests. Those who do the former reap a
harvest of disappointment and loss right here on earth because they learn as they
grow older that the flesh they lived to please is decaying and dying. Then in the
age to come they lose eternal rewards. Those who sow to the Spirit will of the
Spirit reap everlasting life. There are two ways in which eternal life (same word
translated everlasting) is used in the Bible: (1) It is the present possession of
every believer (Joh_3:36). (2) It is that which the believer receives at the end
of his life here on earth (Rom_6:22). Those who sow to the Spirit enjoy eternal
life here and now in a way which other Christians do not. Then, too, they will
reap the rewards which accompany faithfulness when they reach their heavenly
So hopefully you can see that in its context it is
talking of the results of giving and the rewards still to come, not the loss of
You spoke of 2 Peter 1:9 But if anyone does not
have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been
cleansed from his past sins.
This is speaking of the
'cleansing' from past sins. There is ongoing 'cleansing' even
though with are righteous or 'clean' in God's sight. See John
13:8-10 where Jesus pictures this. In regards to the forgiveness of sin there is
a once and for all forgiveness (like Heb 10:14, Col 2;13-14) and an ongoing
forgiveness as we confess. It is important to know the difference:
Well I hope this helps. Sorry... a bit long winded but you stated quite a few
At the end of the day if there was
not righteousness 'credited', 'imputed' or
'reckoned' to our account then NONE would be righteous before God.
And everything that the Bible says about those 'in Christ' would not be
true. For example, please read this study and meditate on it for it shows what is
true of every believer in Christ Jesus - this is the state that God has placed us
in because of what Jesus did on our behalf - and it is WONDERFUL!
Paul said that it was his desire to be found in Him, not having a righteousness
of his own that comes from the law (our life and works) but having the
righteousness that is by faith (Phil 3:8-9). Can you say the same?
is a righteous life that proceeds from our righteous state. There is a biblical
emphasis on sanctification that follows our justification. Absolutely. When
taught in the correct order (which is justification as a free gift by grace to
all who believe first, then sanctification) we have the right foundation to grow.
Granted... It isn't without people getting the wrong idea and possibly
exploiting it (the doctrine of grace always opens itself up to those who may seek
to exploit it), but it is the right biblical foundation. When you get the horse
before the cart and place the emphasis on our righteous life for salvation (as
your email did) then we are not on a solid foundation but on shaky sand indeed
that lacks peace and assurance. Listen again to the old hymn:
hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand."
May God Bless as you look further into these things.