Here we are again. Question number 10. Michael Pearl, coming to you from The Door.
Here's the question a reader asks:
What difference does it matter what I say? The question is, what does the Bible say? You see, I'm fallible. I can be in error. I'm not as smart as some people. So I can't tell you just what I think. I can tell you what the Bible says, and I think what it says is right.
So here's the word impart, I looked it up in the Bible. You can do this. The word impart, look it up in a concordance, appears in the Bible four times total throughout the whole Bible. So if there's a great Bible doctrine about God imparting righteousness to us, where's the scripture for it? None of those four times refer in any way to God imparting to us any righteousness in any measure, in any degree.
Imputing is when, from a distance, that person to whom you owe a debt, that person that you have a credit charged up with, that person turns around instead of foreclosing on you or sentencing you, that person imputes to your account that money that you owe or the debt that you've acquired. It's paid for in your absence without you ever handling the money or making any transaction. And you're informed that this money has been imputed to your bank account and you're free.
Now, imparting is quite the opposite. Imparting is when you hand over to someone something and make it theirs. You give it to them. It belongs to them.
So this person is saying that God is not only calling me righteous, but he's also placing some righteousness inside of me, supernaturally impregnating me with righteousness, so I now act right. That's what she say. Now, understand why this person is saying this. She's saying it because we get fed up with fake Christians saying, "I have righteous imputed to me," but they don't live it.
So we come up with the idea, "Well, God's also imparting righteousness, and I don't see it in your life, so you're not saved." It's a way of judging other people. Certainly we don't do these things to judge ourselves. We don't look in ourselves and say, "Okay, God's imparting righteous to me. Do I have enough to account myself a Christian?" I've never met anyone that had enough imparted righteousness to be counted as a Christian, because at our best works, we're altogether filthy rags. But there are many Christian policemen trying to police other Christians and make sure that they have enough righteousness. And I understand the feeling. I feel that way sometimes too. That's when I know I'm carnal minded.
All right, so how would you impart character? How would you impart it? How would you put it in someone?
The biblical method of achieving righteousness this way, Romans 6:12. Now this is the biblical method. You've got all of Romans there carefully building a logical, sequential theological argument for justification and sanctification and the Holy Spirit and the Christian life, and nowhere does it speak of imparting righteousness. Here's what it does say after declaring that we have righteousness imputed to us and are counted as sinless before God.
"God made him to be sin for us, him who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21 )God made us something we're not: righteous.
Romans 6:12-16, "Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body." This is conclusion of we have sin imputed. "Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body that you should obey it in the lusts thereof." That implies the exercise of your will. "Neither yield you your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourself unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." So he's assuming that you have a responsibility to yield or yield not.
Romans 6:17-22"God be thanked that you were the servants of sin, but you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you." He said before you had righteous imputed to you, you were the servant of it. But you have obeyed from the heart. You acted, obeyed from the heart, "that form of doctrine delivered to you, being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh, for as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness."
So the biblical method is now that you are counted by God, when God looks down all He sees is the righteousness of God over me. He doesn't see my sin. He just sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ, counts me righteous.
But in practice, I'm still the same Mike Pearl that I was and God wants me to do different. Now when I do obey, when I do reckon myself to be dead and alive unto God, and I walk after the Spirit not after the flesh, and I act in a righteous manner, that's my righteousness not God's. That's my personal righteousness. The Bible speaks of it that way. It never speaks of it as God's righteousness when it's practiced, when it's experienced, when it's expressed.
That's the Bible. That's the facts. That settles the matter. That's question number 10.