Pristine Grace

To Whom was Sin Imputed?
Romans 4:8
by Jim Byrd

"Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Romans 4:8).

"Blessed" means well off, happy, to be envied. "The man" stands for every vessel of mercy, everyone chosen unto salvation, redeemed by the blood of Christ, certain to be regenerated by the Spirit and brought to faith in the Savior and destined to dwell with the Lord forever. "Impute" means to reckon, to charge to the account of. Concerning this man who is blessed, there is no doubt as to his natural depravity "for all have sinned" (Romans 3:23). But the issue before us is not the man’s sinfulness, but the non-imputation of sin to him. This raises an important question. If God declares that this man’s sin is not imputed to him, to whom then was it imputed and how was the debt removed? After all, if sin is not reckoned to this man, surely the justice of God demands it be reckoned to a suitable Substitute. The man owed a debt to God which he had no ability to pay and we know that the Lord cannot merely erase the indebtedness without satisfaction because "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). While it is true that the blessed man has been cleared of all charges and stands righteous before God, yet the issue remains - to whom was his sin imputed and how was justice satisfied? Here is the gospel answer. Unbeknown to the blessed man prior to regeneration, the Surety stood for him in the covenant of grace and became fully responsible and accountable for his sins. The Father has always looked to Christ to make satisfaction for the iniquities of His people. The sin of the man was imputed to Christ and when He died as God’s Sacrifice, He canceled the indebtedness, removed the guilt, washed sin away and brought in everlasting righteousness. As the debt was imputed to Christ and He paid it in full, so the righteousness He established has been imputed to the blessed man and he stands perpetually accepted and blameless before God. "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:33-34).