Read Philippians 3:9b (ESV)
...not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith...
According to Paul, what is the only way we can be righteous?
Imagine that some kids go to the swimming pool but don’t bring any money. The snack shack allows them to purchase snacks, but they charge it to an account. The parents are imputed with the kids’ debt which the parents pay off for them. But then the parents do something even more gracious. They put money in an account for the kids that they can spend at the pool snack shack. The parents didn’t just cover their kids’ debt but also gave them credit on their account.
In today’s verse, Paul continued to emphasize that his righteousness comes from his faith in Jesus Christ alone. He knew that as sinners, we have a debt that we can’t pay. Our own righteousness won’t cover the bill. We are like a bunch of kids with no means to pay the debt we owe. Instead, Christ covered the cost with His blood. But what’s even more incredible is that when we accept Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and place our faith in Him, His righteousness is given to us. He is the Father who credits our accounts.
The theological term for this is “imputed righteousness.” Merriam-Webster gives two main definitions for the word “impute”. The first is “to lay the responsibility or blame for something often falsely or unjustly.” The second definition is “to credit or ascribe something to a person or cause.” Our sins were imputed to Jesus though He did not deserve it and His righteousness was imputed to us though we did not deserve it.
Theologian Michael Horton explained it this way: “Our sins are charged to him, and his righteousness is credited to us.” Now, when God looks at us, He doesn’t just see forgiven sins and a blank slate. He sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus in us. We have been made holy and blameless in His sight. Isn’t that amazing?
Friends, if you’ve placed your faith in Jesus, your balance isn’t just out of the red. It’s in the black! The debt that you owed has been paid by Jesus Christ and He has credited His own righteousness to your account. It doesn’t depend on your works or attempts to keep the Law. It only depends on faith in Christ.
Father, thank You for making a way for the debt of my sin to be paid. But You gave me so much more than just forgiveness. Through Christ, You have made me righteous and restored my relationship with You. In Jesus, I am holy and blameless in Your sight. I praise You, God, for this undeserved gift. Amen.