The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Imputation (The Robe of Righteousness)

While we are washed in the blood and cleansed as we are infused with righteousness in our growth towards sanctification, the righteousness of Christ is imputed. It’s an extrinsic covering like when Adam and Eve sinned and God sacrificed the animals and clothed them with the skin of the animals. It’s a covering or a clothing in a robe of righteousness:

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. ~~ Isaiah 61:10

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. ~~ Revelation 22:14

By virtue of His relationship with humanity our sins can be imputed to Christ. In His incarnation and baptism He comes into union and solidarity with humanity. He becomes the Son of Man and therefore, our representative and proxy before God so that He dies for our sins as our representative and proxy. We die with Christ as He identifies Himself with us. By faith we enter into mystical union and become one with Christ as His righteousness is imputed. We are crucified with Christ as we are baptized into His death and risen to new life. Just as those who enter the lake of fire are baptized in the lake as they die to the old self (ego death) and risen to new life.

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He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Notice that IN HIM we become the righteousness OF GOD. Indeed, it’s not a righteousness of our own but a foreign righteousness. That a foreign righteousness from God is imputed to the believer by faith is seen in Romans 4:2-5 where we observe how Paul infallibly explained Abraham’s justification by faith:

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:2-5).

This taken from Genesis 15:6. The word for counted in Hebrew means:

to charge, impute, reckon
to be computed, be reckoned
to be imputed

This shows that the NT Greek word for counted (logizomai) in this passage must carry it’s meaning of referring to something being charged or reckoned to someone. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words confirms the word can be used this way.

God does not count anyone righteousness when he is not. He is not interested in a pretending righteousness; He wants ACTUAL righteousness.

Ro 6:18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Ro 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
2Co 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2Co 6:7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;
Heb 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
1Pe 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed [of your sin sickness].
1Jo 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
1Jo 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

1Jo 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

I am going to let no one deceive me. It is those who PRACTISE righteousness who ARE righteous. It is they who have an ACTUAL righteousness, a REAL righteousness—not those who are “infused” with a righteousness which is not their own.

Well the scriptures I gave contradict you. The scripture you gave I believe. Here’s how the Bible describes salvation




We are to practice righteousness as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. You’ve been brainwashed by the blasphemer George MacDonald. Those who hold to the atonement trust in Christ and the Father. Indeed, it’s a trusting in God’s pardon, God’s promises, and God’s power and not our own. Such a faith secures the future and gives one hope. Hope pushes the desires for sin out of the heart as one relies on God like Christ did. It’s by the joy set before us. Not only does it push desires out of the heart but it brings strong desires to the heart as one is thrown into the current of love. It’s faith - hope - love. It’s faith working itself out through love. The joy of faith. In the Bible faith produces obedience. The power to love is the confidence that God will take care of our future. It’s the obedience of faith as one trusts and relies on God like Jesus did.

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What righteousness is there except Christ “infused” into you (Col.1:27)?

"5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. (Romans 5:5)

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,” (1 Cor.1:30)

Christians have a “righteousness which is not their own”:

“and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.” (Phil.3:9)

"For the gospel reveals the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” " (Rom.1:17)

5 He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)

Lk.18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Lk.23:39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

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I think you’re right Origin. I think I’ll stick with infused righteousness rather than imputed.

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I’m not sure of the semantics here. But unlike “imputed” righteousness, does a supernatural righteousness that is beyond “our own” and ‘infused’ into us, necessarily contradict that this is a “real” righteousness that shows itself in our actual “practice”?

I don’t think so Bob.

Just as a seat-of-the-pants thing, it sounds like:

Imputed : “Even though your character is just the same as it was previously, and even though sin is still your master, I am going to declare you to be as righteous as I am.” (In other words, a fiction?)

Infused: “Without your help or willpower, I am going to gift you to be as righteous as I myself am, in your innermost being”. (Which does not mean you will not still sin, maybe hurt others and yourself, be greedy or gluttonous, etc.)

I guess you could interpret credited as righteousness in a different way than imputed. John says, if we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This means that each time we repent of our sins, God restores us to grace and “credits” us with righteousness. That is to say, He sees the righteousness within us by grace. When God “credits” us with righteousness God looks at our very being and sees the internal quality of actual righteousness within us.

Being born again (infused righteousness) is one thing. Then there is practical righteousness in daily living which is understood in many different ways (which is partly responsible for the 100’s of different Christian “churches”) & related to questions re the truth or error of doctrines such as OSAS, “Perseverance of the Saints”, Dispensations, Purgatory, loss of rewards or salvation, etc.

One perspective is when a person is saved they are regenerated in their spirit (Jn.3:3-8) & they become “one spirit” with the Lord (1 Cor.6:19). Their spirit is saved by being infused with the Lord’s Spirit. This occurs when one has faith in the gospel & God accounts (or imputes) that for righteousness. But the Christian soul remains a battleground for his entire life as a Christian. It is not saved as evident by many of its thoughts, feelings & choices. It becomes saved to the degree that one grows in the grace & knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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I think you put it very well.

FWiW I heard perceiving our righteousness as “infused” by God as meaning that we recognize that the actual righteousness that develops in our own life was put into us by God, not as simply “our own” doing, but as the gift of God’s Spirit when we cooperate with God’s grace. I.e. I haven’t seen it as contrary to some kind of synergism or accomplished without our cooperation, nor as an all at once change of status or character at conversion.

But I read some here as seeing it more like an accounting status term, more akin to automatic imputation. And I reckon that this shows the importance of not just assuming others are defining terms (such as infusion) in the same way we do…

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Yes, the definitions of terms is vitally important. Surely infused righteousness can be seen as not just occurring at regeneration but as continuing for the entire Christian life, to the degree one cooperates with the grace of God. OTOH, in 100% deterministic perspectives (e.g. AE Knoch, Calvinistic double predestination) any co operation on man’s part is just an illusion or speaking from the subjective human POV rather than the Divine.

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I’m going to have to say it’s both. It’s both extrinsic and intrinsic. It’s extrinsic just as it was for Adam and Eve. After they sinned God sacrificed the animals and covered their nakedness with the skin of the animals. It’s a robe of righteousness:

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. ~~ Isaiah 61:10

Well… I’ll stick with the necessity of actual, practical righteousness as John affirmed:

1Jo 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

We need to BE righteous, and this is possible through enabling grace which was brought about by Christ’s magnificent sacrifice on our behalf.

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and to live sensible, righteous, and devout lives in the present age, expecting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; encourage and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)



Nobody denies that those who are justified and born again practice righteousness. Except for the easy believism camp.

From John Piper’s book “Finally Alive”

  1. Those who are born again practice righteousness.

1 John 2:29 - If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him

  1. Those who are born of God don’t make a practice of sinning

1 John 3:9-10 - No one born of God makes a practice of sinning

  1. Those who are born of God love others

1 John 2:9 - Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness

1 John 4:7-8 - Let us love one another for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of
God and knows God

  1. Those who are born of God confess the Son and have Him

1 John 4:15 - Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God

  1. Those who are born of God believe that Jesus is the Christ

1 John 5:1 - Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God

If nobody denies it then why are you talking about imputed righteousness? The very word that some translators render as “justified” usually means “made righteous.” Salvation is the PROCESS of being saved from sin—sin itself and not merely the consequences of sin. Indeed, nowhere is Scripture is it stated that we are saved from the consequences of sin.

Also the expression translated as “born again” SHOULD BE translated as “begotten again.” A natural begetting takes place when a human sperm combines with a human egg, which marks the beginning of a human life. Similarly, when we entrust our lives to Christ, we are begotten again, and this is merely the beginning of our spiritual life. This is analogous to the life of the fetus in the womb. Just as the fetus is born into the world after 9 months in the womb, so those who have been begotten again will be born again into the resurrection.

(Phillipians 1:6) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.