The term imputation is used to designate any action or word or thing as reckoned to a person.
In doctrinal, or Biblical language there are three cases of imputation that summarize God’s plan of redemption for fallen humanity:
(1) The sin of Adam, who represented all of the human race, is imputed to all his descendants, i.e., it is reckoned as theirs, and they are dealt with therefore as guilty (Romans 5:12).
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Rom 5:12)
(2) Our sins are imputed to Christ, i.e., he assumed our ‘law-place,’ undertook to answer the demands of justice for our sins. In all these cases the nature of imputation is the same (Gal 3:13; 2 Cor 5:21).
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (Gal 3:13)
21 For our sake he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)
(3) The righteousness of Christ is imputed to them that believe in him, or so attributed to them as to be considered their own (Rom 3:21).
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Rom 3:21)
To those who would say that it’s not fair for God to impute Adam’s sin to his posterity, we must ask if it’s fair that he would impute our sin to his Son. If you are one of those, it’s something for you to think about. No matter how you answer that, remember that because of Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to us who believe, we are completely justified before a Holy God.
If we who have believed in Christ stand before God as sinners deserving of wrath, but justified by the righteousness of Christ, how is it possible that we could somehow ‘lose’ our salvation, or become ‘unjustified’?
Well, that’s a question deserving of its own consideration. For the moment, consider these three great imputations and let their truth sink deeply into your spirit. In doing so, you will have a grasp of God’s plan of redemption that many professing believers do not possess. And in this particular season, remember the words of the angel who visited Joseph concerning the child she was to bear:
21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21