Paul’s imputed righteousness

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ByFemi Aribisala

Christians are brainwashed in churches not to think but to foolishly follow whatever our pastors tell us. We are hoodwinked into believing all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7). As a result, when we are shown contradictions in the bible, we resort to ungodly insults and claim those who identify them don’t have the Holy Spirit. But our God is a logical God. He says to us: “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18).

So let us put on our reasoning faculties and address some basic issues of our faith. Can a man be righteous? Paul says no: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10). This falsehood is accepted as an article of faith by Christians. However, Paul’s position is irrelevant.

Many are righteous

The righteous, who Paul claims are nonexistent, are referred to over 139 times in the bible. God declares many people to be righteous, including Noah, Job and Ezekiel. Jesus contradicts Paul by saying there are “many righteous men.” (Matthew 13:17). He declares Abel to be righteous (Matthew 23:35) and says there are “just persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7). Jesus himself is a man and he is righteous. John refers to him as “Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1).

If man cannot be righteous, Jesus would not call us to righteousness. He says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6). This means those who strive for righteousness will become righteous. But Paul says it is impossible for a man to be righteous. He then develops a bogus doctrine that we shall nevertheless be considered righteous even though we are not: “(Righteousness) shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Romans 4:24).

Useless righteousness

This “imputed righteousness” is practically useless. Imagine a situation where, instead of having medical students go through a rigorous ten-year study program in order to become surgeons, we simply impute to them the qualification to be surgeons. Would you want an imputed surgeon to perform a heart-transplant on you? Certainly not! You would rather have a real surgeon do it. That is the difference between the righteousness Paul talks about and the righteousness Jesus talks about.

Imputed righteousness is a complete waste of time. It does not impede sinfulness and it does not promote righteousness.

The righteousness of God that Jesus calls us to is not imputed. It is the genuine article. Jesus says: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45). There is nothing imputed here but the real deal. Jesus calls us to the very righteousness of God. He says: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).

However, Paul calls us to the imputed righteousness of Abraham. He erroneously classifies this as the righteousness of faith, another term for his imputed righteousness. But God told Isaac Abraham’s righteousness was of works: “Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Genesis 26:5). Jesus repeats this to the Jews: “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.” (John 8:39).

But Paul insists Abraham’s righteousness was of faith without works: “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 accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:2-3). “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” (Romans 4:16).

However, this is not true according to Jesus. In Jesus’ doctrine, Abraham is not our father; we have no other Father but God. Jesus says: “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9). Everything about Jesus is “God-ward” and not “man-ward.” He is asking us for a complete change of value-orientation and family. We are not sons of Abraham. We are sons of God. We are not going to “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). We are going to “the bosom of the Father.” (John 1:18).

Sinful righteousness

Both the imputed righteousness of Abraham and the imputed righteousness of today’s Christians are practically useless. Abraham committed adultery after the righteousness of God was allegedly imputed to him: he slept with his house-help, Haggai. Christians commit adultery after Paul’s righteousness of faith is imputed to us. Imputed righteousness is a complete waste of time. It does not impede sinfulness and it does not promote righteousness.

In Paul’s false doctrine, we don’t have to be righteous. However, we are deemed righteous because we believe Jesus died for our sins. In which case, our righteousness is bogus. It is not based on our behaviour or conduct. It is based entirely on “the grace of God.” But listen instead to Isaiah: “Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.” (Isaiah 26:10). This means Paul is talking rubbish.

Thanks to Paul, Martin Luther can write this kind of heresy and still claim to be a disciple of Jesus: “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your faith in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. This life is not a place where righteousness can exist. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery a thousand times each day.” This means in Paul’s imputed righteousness, sin is graciously condoned.

Righteousness of God

However, Jesus’ righteousness of God is a different matter. Unlike Paul, who claims God has reconciled himself to our sins, not imputing our trespasses to us (2 Corinthians 5:19); Jesus maintains our sins are unacceptable: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29).

The righteousness of God that Jesus calls us to is attainable. We attain it by following Jesus’ example in laying down our life. That is the message of the cross. According to Jesus, man’s love of life is the basis of all sin. We steal, cheat, fight, kill and commit adultery in order to save our lives. But the man who loves his enemies, and lays down his life by turning the other cheek does not sin. Jesus says: “He who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25). “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35).

Christians persist in the heinous sin of the love of life, while deluding ourselves that we have the righteousness of Christ. But no man can overcome sin without losing his life.

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