Christians believe that we aren’t justified, or made right with God, because of anything we do, but only by faith in Jesus. So if that’s true, do we have any actual righteousness or are we only said to be righteous?
The Bible teaches that Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for us, taking the punishment that our sins deserved. But Jesus didn’t just take our punishment. In the Bible we see that our sins were actually transferred to Christ. The technical term for this transfer is imputation.
Through this transfer, Jesus became sin on our behalf. But the transfer isn’t one-sided. Jesus didn’t just receive our guilt. His perfect righteousness was imputed to us! Because Jesus’ righteousness is given to us by faith, or imputed to us, we aren’t simply called righteous. We actually are righteous, as God the Father sees Christ’s righteousness as ours (Rom. 4:6).