Every person turns aside from God. All become unprofitable in spiritual matters. At rock bottom no one even does good—no, not one.
Good is a relative term. It is defined against some standard. If we establish what that standard is, we can congratulate ourselves and take comfort in our attainment of it. But if God establishes the standard, and His standard includes outward behavior (that our actions conform perfectly to His law) and internal motivation (that all our acts proceed from a heart that loves Him perfectly), then we quickly see that our pretended “goodness” is no goodness at all. We then understand what Augustine was getting at when he said that man’s best works are nothing more than “splendid vices.”
So what? The equation is simple. If God requires perfect righteousness and perfect holiness to survive His perfect judgment, then we are left with a serious problem. Either we rest our hope in our own righteousness, which is altogether inadequate, or we flee to another’s righteousness, an alien righteousness, a righteousness not our own inherently. The only place such perfect righteousness can be found is in Christ—that is the good news of the gospel. Subtract this element of alien righteousness that God “counts” or “imputes” for us, and we have no biblical gospel at all. Without imputation, the gospel becomes “another gospel,” and such a “gospel” brings nothing but the anathema of God.
With the righteousness of Christ promised to us by faith, we have the hope of our salvation. We become numbered among those blessed to whom the Lord does not impute sin (Rom. 4:8).
This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.