Righteousness: Imputed, Imparted or Infused?

Loutzenhiser's picture

I. The doctrine of "imputed righteousness" teaches that God graciously charges to the account of believers in Christ the righteousness wrought by Christ. It is at length expounded in Romans 3:21-4:25. Here we are taught that the righteousness wrought by Christ during the days of His incarnation is imputed to, or charged to the account of, believers by God in justification. The justified acknowledge Christ to be not only "Jehovah Our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6) – but also their only righteousness (Psalm 71:16). And they pray to be "found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Philippians 3:9).

It may aid one in understanding this doctrine if he will ever bear in mind that in justification righteousness is imputed, not imparted. And justification does not make one righteous, but merely declares him to be so. And the imputation of righteousness does not change one inwardly and subjectively, this being the work of sanctification, not justification.

II. The doctrine of "imparted righteousness" teaches that God bestows righteousness to believers. Some theologians use the term imparted righteousness to identify the righteous nature imparted by God to believers when He regenerates them. They thereby become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). This "divine nature" (not God's essential nature) is the new one placed in men in regeneration, and which is ever in conflict with the old Adamic nature. It is the "seed" of God placed in man which "cannot sin" (1 John 3:9).

III. The doctrine of "infused righteousness" teaches that God justifies in accord with a righteousness merited by Christ instilled into the believer and maintained by good works. This doctrine, especially prominent in the Roman Catholic Church, accords with its doctrine of justification by works. It posits the believer receives both imputed and infused righteousness, the latter becoming his inherent righteousness, and one is justified on the basis of what he personally does with it.

A presentation of the three views of Righteousness and their supporting scriptures.

rich14285's picture

Romans 5:17

"For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!" One hears righteousness is given. It is "the gift of righteousness" in verse 17 in the fifth Chapter in the Book, or Epistle written by Saint Paul unto the church at Rome. Notice too, in the fourteenth verse, "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." Now when Paul writes "death reigned from Adam to Moses" he cannot mean physical death reigned from Adam to Moses, because people did not stop dying physically during or after Moses. So, we may hear Paul speak of "death" meaning spiritual death reigned from the seperation of spiritual unity wrought when Adam partook of that fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For Gd had said unto Adam, Genesis 2.17:"17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Adam partook and then Gd asks Adam where are you, indicating spiritual separation, meaning spiritual death began to reign because of Adam's sin of disobedience. Thus spiritual death reigned, seperation of union of deity, from Adam to Moses. For under the law of Moses, there was a priestly institution, and a way created for the sins of the people to be transferred by the laying on of hands upon the scape goat who was then released into the wilderness so that judgement would fall out there, and the people could enjoy a relationship with Gd, and with the Blessings of Gd came imputed righteousness. For it was not until the time set for the blood of the lamb of Gd that would purge the heavenly tabernacle that sins were remitted, and the gift of righteousness is part of the restoration of union with Gd, and as Paul writes: 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."