Romans 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
This passage of scripture describes for us the imputed righteousness of Christ as it occurred in the life of Christ and consummated at Calvary. The passage makes a very important point by showing us how we got to where we are in the first place, through the sin of one man, Adam. When the father of our race sinned, he took all of his offspring with him, even though we had no say in the matter back then, being not yet born and having no power to choose for ourselves. But this fact does not let us off the hook, for after we were born, we were found to be following in the footsteps of Adam by living apart from God, and rebelling against His government. Now it is true that we inherited this tendency to sin from Adam, but it is also true that we have deliberately indulged in sin for ourselves, and therefore we are rendered guilty both by inheritance and by practice.
This is where the imputed righteousness of Christ comes in to make the big difference, for just as how Adam sinned and passed on evil to his posterity without our consent, just so Christ died so that He can pass on His righteousness to us without our consent. That's why the human family was not consulted in developing or implementing the plan of salvation, but Christ took it upon Himself to provide a way of escape to all who are willing to relinquish what Adam gave to us by inheritance. The genius of Christ's imputed righteousness is that it is applied across the board to every member of the human family, and is readily available to all who are willing to accept it. This includes men like the thief on the cross, to people like Daniel, and king Nebuchadnezzar, all of whom accepted the free gift of Christ's righteousness, which was initiated by His own will without our consent. Let's read:
Isaiah 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
There is another very important reason why the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and that's because God can only accept perfection, which none of us can deliver because of our tainted history. But Christ who never sinned, and lived a perfect life is accepted with God, and we who believe and abide in Him are also accepted in the beloved. This point must never be lost sight of, for it reminds us that any good that is done in and through us does not have its origination within ourselves, but is solely the result of what God has done and continues to do for us through Christ. However, its important that we avail ourselves of His imputed righteousness, for if we don't, it just remains as a free gift that has not been claimed.
Santa "Claws" used to come by our neighborhood each year with many free gifts for children who would then show up with eager expectant looks on their faces, in anticipation of the goodies that were to be handed out to those present. But I never got a gift from Santa, not because he had any grudge against me personally, nor because the gifts were not available; the problem is that I never went to receive the gift, and so, even though thousands of children were made happy with the gifts bestowed by him, yet I could not participate in their joy, simply because I never showed up.
The same is true of those who have heard that Christ has died to redeem us from the curse of sin and death, to give us the gift of eternal life. But many never show up to receive their gift, and so it remains there for them, just sitting on the shelf, but never claimed. God's desire is that we all receive the gift of Christ's imputed righteousness, for without it the work of sanctification can never begin, and we must be sanctified if we desire to see God's face. We therefore end with a passage of scripture that reminds us of the availability of the free gift, and it is the will of God that we act upon the knowledge we have received without delay. Let's read:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
May this last passage resonate in our consciences, and result in the appropriate response of accepting Christ's imputed righteousness without delay. God bless!