INTRODUCTION – As we prepare our hearts to come to the Lord’s table or to observe communion this morning I want to talk to you about a theological concept called IMPUTATION and NON IMPUTATION. This is not to be confused with amputation – wherein a person’s appendage is cut off – usually due to disease or injury. While amputation may correct a condition or stop the spread of disease in a certain locale of one’s body, it leaves one handicapped in that locale, and it does not necessarily protect the said person from the reoccurrence of disease in another part of their body later on. It doesn’t deal with the root issue in other words.
Imputation or non imputation on the other hand brings great blessing to one’s whole person, and never leaves us handicapped in any way, and does deal with the root issue.
The reality is – when you and I finally have our eyes opened and realize that the living God of the universe is a holy God – as the apostle John speaks of in Rev. 4:8 where he writes of the four living creatures in heaven constantly saying, “Holy, Holy, holy is the Lord God, the almighty, who was and who is and who is to come”, or when we realize that He is absolutely pure – as the prophet Habukuk spoke of when he said of God, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness” (1:13); or when we realize that everything He thinks, says and does is out of His perfect righteousness and justice as the Psalmist speaks of in Psalm 89:14, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.” and that He is thus a God who demands purity and holiness and perfection and righteousness from any human who would desire to find favor with Him and have relationship with Him – – when we realize all of this – – we are faced with a very unsettling dilemma aren’t we?
You see – you and I have two damning problems in the sight of God. First we have a long record of sins and iniquities – some that we are aware of, some that we are not – – that are in full view of God’s all seeing eye (every single one of them). King David spoke of this sobering reality in Psalm 69:5 “O God, it is You who knows my folly, And my wrongs are not hidden from You.”; and Second, even if we could somehow get those offences hidden or out of sight, we still have the problem of being born in sin – our very nature that we are born in is fully corrupt. Paul reminds the believers in the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 2:3 that they “were by nature children of wrath…” And it was Paul who reminded the believers in the church in Rome that “There is none righteous, not even one.” Rom. 3:10
So what in the world can we do about this awful situation? Ahhh that’s where those wonderful theological terms – non imputation and imputation come in. Jesus Christ – through His suffering and death on the cross and His resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit has taken care once and for all of both of these terrible problems.
Let’s talk first about non imputation. No let’s first define – imputation. IMPUTATION is used to designate any action or word or thing as reckoned to a person. Thus to impute means to reckon or credit to someone the blessing, curse, debt, etc., of another. So if your parents die, and you meet with their attorney, and he informs you that you are to receive an inheritance from your parents, it could be said those assets were imputed to you or reckoned or counted to your account. You didn’t’ work for them or even deserve them necessarily. But because you are your parents’ son or daughter – and because they chose to pass on their assets to you – you get them.
This concept in the scriptures springs from the greek word “Logizomai”, which has the idea of to impute, credit, reckon or count something to someone. It is basically a bookkeeping term that means “to put on one’s record” or “to credit to one’s account”. You and I – each have an account before our God. As the apostle Paul said in Romans 14:12, “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” That account when we find ourselves face to face with Him at the end of time will either cause us to be condemned to the horrors of hell for all eternity – – or it will cause us to be promoted to the glories of heaven for all of eternity.
For that account to be in our favor, we must experience both non imputation and imputation from a source outside of ourselves. So now let’s look at an early passage that speaks to non imputation. In Psalm 32:1,2 – King David exclaims with great joy, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.” King David says that there is a super blessed state where a person born in sin and who has committed many sins – – can be seen by God as one who not only does not have sin, but whose sins are all gone or vanished. Later in Psalm 103:12 he says there are certain persons of whom it can be said, “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Non – imputation.
The apostle Paul actually quotes Psalm 32:1,2 in Romans 4:7,8, as he explains the glorious doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ for believers. If you are familiar with the argument of this long theological treatise called the book of Romans, you know that starting in ch. 1 vs. 18 and going through ch. 3 vs. 20 – – Paul makes an airtight case for the sin and guilt and thus condemnation of every man, woman, young person and child that has ever lived, not only because of what we have done and because of the spiritual sickness called sin lodged deeply in our souls, but also because there is not a thing we can do about it. We are utterly helpless to remedy this awful situation on our own. No amount of good works or good intentions could ever cause God to see us as righteous because our very core nature is polluted with sin.Then starting in vs. 21 of ch. 3 and going on through ch. 5 – he declares to us the glorious truth that when we place our faith and trust in Christ for our salvation, He both takes away our sin and imputes to us His righteousness. Some call this supernatural transaction “the Great Exchange” because our sin does not just vanish. You see – Because God is just – sin has to be atoned for. Someone has to pay its penalty. Thus Paul explains in II Corinthians 5:21 “He (that is God the Father) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
He on the cross – bore my sin – that I might not only be found without sin in the sight of God, but so that I might also be found righteous in the sight of God, and so that the power of sin over me might be broken. Listen to Paul’s explanation of this glorious doctrine in Romans 4:3-8, “For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now to the one who works, his wages is not credited as a favor (or gift), but as what is due (or earned). But to the one who does not work (or earn), but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
Someone trying to illustrate this idea of imputation wrote these words, “If we look through a piece of red glass, everything is red; through blue glass, everything is blue; through yellow glass, everything is yellow, and so on. When we believe and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, God looks at us through the Lord Jesus Christ. He sees us in all the white holiness and purity of His Son. Our sins are imputed to the account of Christ and His righteousness is imputed to our account.
One of the more fascinating illustrations of this is from the formation of the Chinese character or word for righteousness. Some of you are probably aware of how God has sovereignly woven His story through the way some Chinese characters were formed. (bring up website)
So the bottom line this morning is – – when Jesus Christ – the Savior of the World and Head of the Church invites you and I to His table – – to eat of the bread – symbolizing His broken, beaten up body – – and to drink of the wine or juice – symbolizing His shed blood – – – He is reminding us of the miracle and gift of imputation – – or the miracle of the Great Exchange – – His righteousness for our unrighteousness. His righteousness imputed or credited to us; and our unrighteousness credited to Him. And this whole package is ours solely by faith. Nothing we can do to earn it; nothing we can do to deserve it. But like any gift – we do have to receive it.