What the Bible Teaches About Sin (Part 2)

What can be said about three great imputations that the Bible refers to? When a believer is ‘declared to be righteous’, what does it mean? If a believer sins, what are the consequences and remedies? When will we finally have complete victory over sin?

The Three Great Imputations

The word ‘imputed’ means to ‘reckon to one’s account’, or to ‘reckon over to another’. The Bible teaches about three great imputations.

The first is the imputation of Adam’s sin to the human race (Romans 5:12-21). This is the reason why physical death is part of human history. All of mankind is viewed as having participated in Adam’s disobedience and therefore all of mankind carries the same guilt (except Jesus). This transmission of guilt is immediately from Adam to every human being (except Jesus). (Regarding our sinful nature, this we inherit from our parents; the sinful nature is thus mediated through our parents.)

The second imputation occurred on the cross. On the cross, the sins of mankind were imputed to Jesus Christ, i.e. reckoned to his account. When Jesus died on the cross, God took the sins of the world and placed them upon Christ; humanity’s sin was imputed to the account of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 John 2:2). This was prophesied of Christ in Isaiah 53:1-6 and its fulfilment is recorded in 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 2:24-25. According to 2 Corinthians 5:21a, ‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us …’

The third great imputation is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer. When someone believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ, he or she has the righteousness of Christ imputed to him or her. In other words, the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to the account of the believer, you are ‘declared to be righteous’ (Romans 3:21-22; 10:4; Philippians 3:8-9). ‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

What Are The Consequences Of The Imputations For A Believer?

Physical death is the result of the first imputation, of being ‘in Adam’. But now that a believer is ‘in Christ’, he or she sees physical death as a means of leaving this world and entering into heaven. When a believer dies, he or she is guaranteed a future with God and a resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).

The believer in Christ is not yet rid of the sinful nature, but is given the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us overcome our sinful nature. Unbelievers only have the sinful nature for they are only ‘in Adam’; believers still have their sinful nature (inherited from our parents) but also a new nature for we are ‘in Christ’. Thus, a war is going on in the believer’s life between the new-born nature and the old sinful nature (Romans 7:15-25; Galatians 5:16-17). The believer does not have to commit acts of sin (Romans 6:1-8:13; 1 John 1:1-2:2); we are to fight the spiritual fight against the flesh, the devil and the world.

Some say that believers do not sin anymore, but this is refuted by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15 when he refers to himself — in the present tense — as the ‘chief of sinners’. Likewise, 1 John 1:8-10 is written to believers who still have the sinful nature. If we yield to our sinful nature and not to Christ, we sin. What then? ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9). Notice the pronoun “we” — the apostle John included himself as a sinner who needed to confess sins.

The Consequences When A Believer Sins

But what happens when a believer in Christ commits personal sins? The first consequence is a loss of fellowship with God (1 John 1:6). This fellowship can be restored by means of confession (1 John 1:9).

A second consequence is chastisement if the believer does not confess his or her sins (1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:4-11).

A third consequence could be excommunication from the local church (cf. Matthew 18; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

A fourth consequence could be physical death (1 Corinthians 5:5; 11:28-32). If a believer refuses to confess his or her sin, even after a period of chastisement and excommunication, physical death could follow for such a believer.

To prevent one from going down this spiral in the first place, we are to examine ourselves and confess our sins, before we go to sleep and before we participate in the ordinance of communion (Ephesians 4:26; 1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

What Remedies Are There To Prevent Sin In Our Lives?

To prevent sin, we are to meditate on the Scriptures (Psalm 119:11). Christ intercedes for us (John 17:15; Romans 8:34) and the Holy Spirit indwells us, so we have the power to resist sin (John 7:37; Romans 8:9). We are to walk in the light of the Word of God (1 John 1:7).

Believers in Christ will have complete victory over sin. For Church age saints, when we receive our glorified bodies, we will be totally free from sin. We will not be able to sin anymore. I can’t wait for that day of Jesus Christ.


In the last article in this series, we will focus on the unpardonable sin.

If you would like to read the original article, please visit Ariel’s website.

Follow us:

Share with others:

[apss_share networks='facebook, twitter, pinterest']