June 20, 2009 2 Corinthians 5:21

So important is eternal life that the Bible gives us many illustrations so that no one will miss the message. To the farmers, Jesus talked about soil and seed. To the shepherds, He talked about sheep. To beggars, He talked about a great feast that God had spread. To lawyers, He talked about justification. To the housewife, He talked about a coin that had been lost and had to be found. But when you use the word "imputation," you find God speaking to the banker, because this is a financial term.

Romans 4:1-8 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Clarity can be attained from reading this same text in the NLT. The word for imputeth or impute is translated “declared” and “cleared” in the NLT.

Romans 4:1-8(NLT) Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”

Imputation Defined

Our English word "imputation" comes from the Latin word which means "to reckon, or credit, to one's account." When you go to the bank or the savings and loan association and deposit money, imputation takes place. They deposit in your account, and they write it on your record.

We want to study imputation from three different aspects

  1. By way of explanation
  2. By way of example
  3. By way of experience

Explanation of Imputation

  • The easiest way to understand imputation is simply to see two recordbooks, two bankbooks
  • One of them has Christ's name on it, and the other has Adam's name on it.
  • The record book for our Lord Jesus Christ is perfect-there is no indebtedness whatsoever.
  • He is absolutely righteous, and His record is spotless.
  • But remember, the record book for Adam is imperfecthe is bankrupt!
  • He has sinned and come short of the glory of God.
  • Our record is Adam's record because we are the children of Adam.

Genesis 5:1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.

  • The entire Old Testament is "the book of the generations of Adam,"
  • Then you turn to Matthew 1:1 and read: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ." God opens

Matthew 1:1The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

  • God opens a new book, and that book is perfect, because His Son's name is on it.
  • What can you and I do about this imperfect record that is on our account?
  • As far as God's spiritual bank is concerned, we are bankrupt we fall short.
  • God has audited the books and discovered that you and I do not have anything with which to pay for our indebtedness. What shall we do about it?


  • We could ignore it, and most people do.
  • Most people don't think about their debt to God. They have broken His Law; they have gone beyond His barriers. He has said, "This far and no farther," and they have said, "We’re going to do it anyway." Then they try to ignore their disobedience. But a day of reckoning is coming, and that day may be soon.
  • A man can work for a bank and secretly be stealing money and falsifying the records, but eventually a day of reckoning comes, and he is caught. So we can ignore it, but the day of reckoning is going to come.


  • We could try to change it ourselves, but we are too bankrupt to do this.
  • We simply do not have the spiritual capital necessary to wipe out the spiritual debt that we have to God.
  • Can we destroy the book? No, that book is in God's hands; no one can destroy that record.

How, then, can we solve the problem of our spiritual bankruptcy-the debt that we have to God?

  • Well, the answer is imputation, and Jesus Christ is the One who comes with the solution. What did He do

Christ Took Our Debt

  • First of all, He took our debt. That is a remarkable thing.
  • When our Lord Jesus Christ came to earth. He came to die. God made Christ to be sin for us-He who knew no sin. Why? "That we might be made the righteousness of God in him" See IICor.5:27.

2 Corinthians 5:21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  • In Isaiah 53:12 we are told that He was numbered among the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

  • This is quoted in Mark 15:28. That word "numbered" means counted.

Mark 15:28And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”

  • In other words, He was counted as a transgressor. He was made poor that we might become rich

2 Corinthians 8:9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

So He took our debt.

Second, He credited His righteousness to our account

Christ did this so that we have the righteousnessof Christ on our record. That is a remarkable thing.

  • But once again, I ask the question, What about the next time I sin?
  • Romans 4:8 takes care of that

Romans 4:8(KJV) Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Romans 4:8(NASB) “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

  • Once the righteousness of Christ has been put on our record, how could God ever record sin?
  • Can He record our sin along with the righteousness of Christ?
  • Of course not.
  • The righteousness of Jesus Christ is written on our record.

Romans 4:7-8“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

  • So there is the negative and the positive.
  • Negatively, He took our debt;
  • Positively, He credits His righteousness to our account.

He does not record our sin.

The Example of Imputation

The most beautiful example of imputation is found in a little letter that Paul wrote to his friend Philemon. l think you probably know the story. Philemon had a slave named Onesimus. Onesimus stole something from his master, Philemon, and fled to the city of Rome, trying to hide. In the providence of God, Onesimus met Paul and was converted. Paul wrote this letter to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, because he wanted Philemon to forgive Onesimus and to restore him.

Onesimus is a picture of the lost sinner. He was a slave, he had no freedom of his own. he was in bondage. He was a thief; he had robbed his master. A slave was not treated with much kindness and mercy in those days. He deserved to die. He tried to run away. He was a lawbreaker, and he was caught. And yet Paul loved this man, and God loved this man, so Paul wrote to Philemon these words. in verse 18:

Philemon 18But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account;

Isn’t that thrilling? Paul was saying, "l want you to impute his debt to me. He stole from you, and he has probably sold what he had stolen and spent the money. He is broke, he is bankrupt, but you put that on my account." That is imputation.

But that is not enough. Verse 17 says,

Philemon 17If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.

That is the positive part. He said, "When Onesimus comes home, don't see Onesimus, see Paul. Receive him the way you would receive me. Receive him as myself."

  • This Lord Jesus Christ did that for us!

The Experience of Imputation

Now let's look at imputation by way of experience. How can we make this work in our lives?

Admit Your Debt

  • First of all, admit your debt. If you have never been born again, if you have never been saved, just admit that you are in debt, that you are bankrupt and that you can't pay it yourself.
  • You will remember in Luke 7:36-50, Jesus had a meeting with a Pharisee.
  • While He was having dinner with the Pharisee, a woman of the street came in and wept and washed our Lord’s feet. The Pharisee was offended. But Jesus told a story about two people who were in debt. In modern language, one owed a thousand dollars and one owed ten dollars. But the man to whom they owed this debt freely forgave them both.
  • Now Jesus said to this Pharisee, "Which one of those two people is going to love him the most?"
  • He said, "Well, I suppose that one who had the most forgiven."
  • But Simon didn't realize that he himself was in debt. He said, “Oh this woman of the streets, she is in debt to God. She has broken God's Law. But Simon the Pharisee hasn't.”
  • Jesus said, "Now, wait a minute. You are just as much in debt as she is and maybe more, because you don't see it the way she does. Furthermore, you are just as bankrupt."
  • Admit your debt, and receive by grace God's gift of righteousness.

Don't Record Your Own Sins

Second, don't keep bookson yourself.

  • Some Christians are always remembering what God has forgotten, and they are forgetting what God wants them to remember. It is good for us to say,

Search me, O God, and know my heart. (Ps. 139:23).

  • But it is also good for us not to keep a record of our sins.
  • God is not keeping a record of our sins, so why should we?
  • The Devil loves to have us do this. Satan enjoys it when God's people wallow around in self-pity, remembering their past sins, and get discouraged and feel guilty.
  • God has forgiven; God has put His righteousness on your book, and He is not keeping a record of your sins.

Don't Record Others' Sins

  • Third, don't keep a recordof other people's sins.

First Corinthians 13:5 reminds us that love does not keep a record of wrongs.

1 Corinthians 13:5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

  • Don't keep in your mind and heart a record of the bad things people have done to you.

Just turn it over to God. God is not keeping a record; why should you? Just lovingly forgive them.

Final Thoughts

It is no wonder that David said,

Psalm 32:1-2 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

God has written His righteousness on your record; now let Him write that righteousness on your life.