Imputed Righteousness

Dan Corner

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People in the Old Testament were not justified by the law as some might think. We can be assured of this because no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the law (Rom. 3:20). Since this is true, how then were they saved? Surprisingly, they received imputed righteousness just like we do today under the new covenant! Examples of such are Abraham (Gen. 15:6 cf. Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Jam. 2:23) and Noah (Heb. 11:7). David also taught of imputed righteousness in his era, the Old Testament (Psa. 32:1,2 cf. Rom. 4:6-8). In spite of this fact though, we read in Ezek. 33:12,13:

"... 'the righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys ... the righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.' If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done."

Why then do people under the New Testament think that because imputed righteousness is our righteousness in Christ (Rom. 3:22; 9:30-10:4; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9; etc.), they can afterwards turn to evil and/or a wrong plan of salvation and not be spiritually affected to a lethal degree? Clearly, such is not the case now. (See Rev. 21:8; 1 Jn. 2:24,25; etc.) Without a doubt, imputed righteousness, according to the New Testament canon, does not mean that a recipient can afterwards live according to the sinful nature and not die (Rom. 8:13) or sow to please the sinful nature and not reap destruction (Gal. 6:8)! Also, Paul wrote that we could, because of accepting a wrong plan of salvation, fall from grace and be alienated from Christ to the point that He is of "no value" to us at all (Gal. 5:2,4)! Paul, who often wrote of imputed righteousness in Christ, also gave these other Scriptures without contradicting himself and his grace message!

A true Christian (or righteous person) can die spiritually because of sin (Ezek. 33:18; Rom. 8:13; James 1:14-16; Lk. 15:24; etc.) fall away (Lk. 8:13; Heb. 6:4-6; etc.) and never again return to Jesus, just as the Apostle Judas Iscariot and Solomon didn't return after they turned from the faith.

A true Christian (or righteous person) doesn't have to "practice" sin, such as adultery or murder, before they lose their salvation, since it only takes one act of adultery to make a person a Bible-defined adulterer (Lev. 20:10) and one act of murder to make him a Bible defined murderer (Number 35:16). Rev. 21:8 is clear in stating such people are headed for hell because of their sins. David is a clear example of a righteous man who lost his salvation for a time, due to adultery and murder.

All sins are not the same in their effect on our souls. Some sins are greater than others (Jn. 19:11). One type is eternal (Mk. 3:29), while others are not. Another type of sin is uniquely against our bodies, while others sins are outside our bodes (1 Cor. 6:18). 1 Jn. 5:16 declares there is a sin that does not lead to death while there is a sin that leads to death. Sins such as worry (Phil. 4:6), unthankfulness (Col. 2:7, 3:15; Lk. 17:11-18) and not being completely humble and gentle (Eph. 4:2) are not included in any of the lists of sins that will send people to the lake of fire, even if there were once saved. However, other sins certainly will send any person to hell if they die unrepentant, even a person who was once saved. (See 1 Cor. 6:9,10; Rev. 21:8; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5,6; Jude 7; Rev. 22:15; etc.).

Because of the way eternal security teachers declare what imputed righteousness is, multitudes have been mislead into thinking that God does not see oneís sin after getting born again. All he instead sees is the blood of Jesus and Christ himself. This is very clearly refuted when one would read and ponder Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Jesus could see their sins, that they forsook their first love, that they became lukewarm, and that they were spiritually asleep. Based on the above truths, to say that a Christian is clothed in Jesusí righteousness to the point where God can only see Jesus and not sins, etc. is a dangerous lie. Furthermore, it also becomes apparent from Revelation chapters 2 and 3 that the Christianís future sins are not already forgiven before they are committed and Jesus is not automatically pleased with a Christian just because he previously had his moment of true faith when he was regenerated.

We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8,9) but we can fall from grace (Gal. 5:2-4). We are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1) but our faith can become shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19,20) and cease to exist (Lk. 8:13; Rom. 11:19-23). We are not under the law (Rom. 6:14, 15) but if you live according to the sinful nature you will die (Rom. 8:13). Paul taught against legalism (Gal. 5:3,4) but he also taught that no immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:5-7). We are not saved by works (Eph. 2:8,9) but to reap eternal life and not destruction you must sow to please the Spirit and not the sinful nature (Gal. 6:8,9). God is faithful to us (1 Jn. 1:9; 1 Cor. 10:13) but we must be faithful to him to the very end of our lives to escape the lake of fire or second death (Rev. 2:10,11). God surely loves us (Jn. 3:16; Mk. 10:21; Rom. 8:35-39) but those who inherit the kingdom of God love God (Jam 2:5; 1 Cor. 2:9) and to love God means to obey his commands (Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn. 5:3). We have freedom in Christ (Gal. 5:1) but this freedom is not to indulge the sinful nature (Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet 2:16).

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