You would think the issue of imputed righteousness would have been settled 500 years ago at the Reformation, but alas, such is not the case. There remains today (and will remain as long as Man seeks to vindicate himself before God) the denial of Romans 8:7, and the insistence that God accepts Man’s hapless attempts toward a perfect righteousness required by Moses’ law.
Let’s revisit Romans 4 to prove a point that the Reformers made. If there is a rock worth dying on, this is it. Either righteousness and justification are imputed through faith - by trusting God and the righteousness of Christ laid to our account - or by imperfectly adhering to a contrived definition of righteousness.
Remember that Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Paul explains it this way:
Romans 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
Rom 4:21 And being (was) fully persuaded that, what he (God) had promised, he was able also to perform.
Rom 4:22 And therefore (that is why) it (Abraham’s faith) was imputed (counted) to him for righteousness.
Listen to Paul’s next statement:
Rom 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
Rom 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Rom 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Jesus had no offence of his own to die for, but died for the offences of anyone will trust Him (John 3:16). The next verse . .
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
What does the underlined word “justified” mean? When I was a new Christian I was told it meant “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned”, and that is true. But wait! There’s more!
Here’s Strong’s definition:
See it? Justification is to be REGARDED AS INNOCENT.
Now, for those who are getting mad and wanting to “stand in the gap” for righteousness (I thought everyone would like to be regarded as innocent) I have good news! The reality of this “regarding as innocent” that God has toward those who trust in Jesus is utterly life-giving and life-transforming for those who receive it, and actually works real “infused” righteousness in the lives of Christians as Jesus HIMSELF begins to live and act through them to “will and to do” the things that please God, a win-win for both sides of the argument! Unfortunately for the Jesuits and the Council Of Trent, they worked so hard to defend the power of Rome that they threw out the baby with the bath water!
Those who think that the Reformation was a misunderstanding are either ignorant of what was at stake or are being deceitful. The central issue of the Reformation was “how can Man who drinks sin like water be made just before God”.
Rome and religion say “do the right stuff” (which “stuff” varies with the religion), but holy scripture says “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.
I’m going with number two . .