Imputation is a legal term, and was used in the New Testament times as a technical term, meaning "to charge to someone's account". Impute means "to credit something to someone", "to charge to someone's account", or "to reckon". One example in the Bible would be when Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, and told Philemon that if Onesimus had incurred any debts, they were to be put on Paul's account, Philemon 1:18. To be justified (Just as if we had never sinned) and enter into heaven, we must have the equivalent righteousness of God. When we believe in Jesus and His sacrificial provision for sin, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and it is then that we are justified, and justified by faith and not by good works, Romans 3:22; 4:4-5; 4:11; 9:30-32; Ephesians 2:8-9.
Imputation begins back in the Garden of Eden. Adam was told that if he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die. The death mentioned here is a separation of the soul and spirit from the body, and this is the first death. There is a another death for unbelievers that is called the second death, which is an eternal separation from God in a lake of fire, Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8. When Adam ate of that fruit, he then had a fallen nature and lost his sinlessness , his perfect standing before God, and eventually died.
This sinful, fallen nature of Adam, is inherited by all of his descendants, all mankind, and not only gives us a fallen nature that is bent toward sin, but brings death to all mankind, and is referred to as the first death, Romans 5:12, 19. The biblical history after Adam confirms that Adam's sin nature was imputed to all mankind. Adam was the first person with a sentence of death, and by Adam death was passed upon all mankind, 1 Corinthians 15:21. Therefore, we can say that Adam is the Federal head of the human race. This fallen nature we inherit from Adam is also called "the natural man" (1 Corinthians 2:14), and "the Old Man" (Colossians 3:9).
Disobedience of God's laws/commandments is sin. Since we have all inherited sin from Adam, and since no one, except Jesus Christ, has obeyed all the commandments, we have all sinned, Romans 3:23. One of the negative things about sin is that it earns wages, or debt that must be paid, which is death, Romans 6:23. There is, therefore, no way we can pay this debt that has been imputed to our account, and still get into heaven. No amount of good works on our behalf will pay the debt.
So how does anyone in our sinful human race get into heaven, where no sin is allowed? Jesus Christ died in our place to pay for our sins. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we see that our sins were placed on Christ, in other words, imputed to Christ. He took all our sin upon Himself. So the sins of Adam and our personal sins were imputed to us, and all of these are imputed to Christ, who died in our place to pay the price for our sins. Christ did not die for His own sins, because He was sinless (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22), but Jesus died for our sins (1 Peter 2:24). The Apostle Paul said in Romans 5:18 that by the sin of one man, Adam, judgment came on all men to condemnation. However, Paul continues to say that righteousness came upon all men to justification (just as if I had never sinned) through one Man, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus died for our sins, He not only paid our wages for sin, His righteousness was imputed to us, so that we are now, in God's eyes, as righteous as Christ, who we have previously seen has no sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we see that the perfect righteousness of God is credited to us and is known as imputed to us. Then in Romans 4:3 and Romans 4:5-8 we see that God imputes righteousness because of our faith in Jesus and His death on the cross. We also see that our sins are forgiven, and that the Lord will not impute our sin to us. Also note that righteousness is imputed without works in Romans 4:6. Therefore, contrary to popular opinion, we can not get into heaven by doing any amount of good deeds or works. If we try to be self righteous by doing good things, Isaiah in Isaiah 65:4 says that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.
So the answer to our original question of how do we as sinners get into heaven, where God will allow no sin, is because Christ paid for our sin by dying for us on the cross, and having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us when we believe. This is why David said blessed is the man the Lord imputeth not iniquity and Paul repeated the idea in Romans 4:8 saying "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."
By having a change of mind (repentance) toward sin, and and placing your faith and trust in what Christ has done on the cross, you can be saved. Have you placed your faith in Christ? The bible says that today is the day of salvation, 2 Corinthians 6:2. Remember what God said to the rich man who was making plans to build more storage for his increase in goods, that this night his soul would be required and then who shall all those goods belong to, Luke 12:20.
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