“Wrestling With Romans”
Christ, Our Glorious Dress (Chapter 5 Verses 12-21)
We are pointed here to the obedience of our Saviour, Jesus Christ (vv18-19). It is through that obedience we are made righteous, it is imputed to us. That means simply that God looks at the righteousness of his Son as belonging to every Christian, it is credited to us (Romans 4.3; cf. Genesis 15.6). It is a precious gift from God (v17), not worked for but simply received by faith (Romans 4.6). The guilt of Adam was imputed to us because of his sin (v12) as the representative of all humankind we were all credited with sin because of his sin. When Christ suffered and died on the cross for our sin, our sin was imputed, credited, to him. Yes, God looked at it as belonging to the Lord Jesus, he paid the penalty for it in his own body (1Peter 3.18; 2Corinthians 5.21). Consequently, because of this, God has imputed the righteousness of Jesus Christ to us who believe, it is not our own righteousness, ours is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64.6), it is Christ’s (1Corinthians 1.30). Now our aim should be that of Paul’s, to be found, not in our own filthy rags of righteousness, but clothed in the perfect robes of Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3.9), and that depends on faith, and faith alone (Romans 3.21-22).
Now we really must labour this point, it is essential, the very bedrock of the gospel, so vitally important. God declares us to be just or righteous, not on the basis of our actual condition of righteousness or holiness, but on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness. That declaration by God does not change us internally, neither is it based on any goodness we might have in ourselves. Let us face up to it, sin always remains with us, so we could never be declared perfectly righteous by anything of or in ourselves. Furthermore we wouldn’t be forgiven our past sins, before conversion I mean and we would not have Paul’s confidence either (Romans 5.1; 5.17; 6.23; 8.1; Hebrews 10.22). For instance the Roman Catholic Church teaches that justification changes us within and makes us holy, and that it begins with baptism. Well, we have learned better than that in these pages surely, that we are justified, a judicial, once for all declaration by God, declared to be righteous because of Jesus Christ’s death. That is appropriated through faith and through faith alone (Romans 3.20). It is a gift from God (Romans 3.23-24). It stems from God’s grace, his unmerited favour (Ephesians 2.8-9; Titus 3.7). God did not have to put our sin upon Jesus, or his righteousness upon us, it was grace, amazing, undeserved and wonderful grace.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)