The Fundamentals of New Covenant Theology
Part 19: NCT Characteristics (III-B)
“3. The imputation of Adam’s first sin to all mankind (Rom. 5:12d, 18a-19a), the elect’s sin to Christ (II Cor. 5:21), and Christ’s righteousness to the elect (Rom. 5:18b-19b) are vital for the Christian faith. Without the doctrine of imputation the whole doctrine of the substitutionary atonement and justification by faith alone in Christ alone are undermined (Rom. 5:12-19)” (Long, New Covenant Theology, NCT Characteristics).
As stated last week, New Covenant Theology unabashedly affirms the threefold doctrine of imputation: (1) the imputation of Adam’s first sin to all mankind (i.e. original sin), (2) the imputation of the elect’s sin to Christ, and (3) the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the elect. In this blog post, we shall focus on the second aspect of the doctrine of imputation – the elect’s sin being reckoned to Christ. One of the foundational teachings of biblical Christianity is the truth that the Lord Jesus Christ was, is, and forever will be sinless. Hebrews 4:15 testifies to this: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” [emphasis mine]. In the crucifixion of Christ, the Triune God reckoned the sins of the elect (i.e. the people of His free, sovereign choice) to the wholly sinless, morally-perfect Son of God. In other words, God charged the sins of His people to His Son’s account. 2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches: “For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” This verse should never be interpreted as teaching that Christ became ontologically sinful (i.e. like fallen man). Rather, 2 Corinthians 5:21 should be understood in this manner: the Lord Jesus Christ was God’s sin offering on behalf of His people – the perfect, sinless sacrifice which satisfied the holy wrath of the Triune God.
As a brief aside, it is not enough to say that Christ was, is, and forever will be sinless. It is more biblically accurate to assert that Christ was, is, and forever will be impeccable – namely, incapable of sinning. This in no way, as some may argue, diminishes the genuineness of Christ’s incarnation.