The Imputation Of Adam’s Sin Fourth Article -- By: John Murray

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 20:1 (Nov 1957)
Article: The Imputation Of Adam’s Sin Fourth Article
Author: John Murray


The Imputation Of Adam’s Sin
Fourth Article

John Murray

IN these studies we have been concerned with the subject of the relation which Adam as the first man sustained to the members of the human race and, more particularly, with the relation which the members of the race sustain to the first sin of Adam. The various aspects of the subject already discussed lead up to the concluding question: what is the character of the involvement on the part of posterity in Adam’s trespass? In terms of sin what was entailed for posterity? If all sinned in Adam, how are we to define this sin of all in the sin of Adam?

V. The Sin Imputed

When we speak of the sin of Adam as imputed to posterity, it is admitted that nowhere in Scripture is our relation to the trespass of Adam expressly defined in terms of imputation. And since this is the case the biblical teaching respecting the involvement of the race in the first sin of Adam must not be prejudiced or distorted by the use of the term “imputation” if it does not adequately or accurately convey the biblical meaning. The word has been widely used, however, in this connection and there is no good reason for abandoning its use. The Scripture does employ the notion of imputation with reference to the judgment which God entertains and registers in the case of the person who has sinned or is a sinner. This is true in both Testaments (cf. Lev. 17:4; Psalm 32:2; Rom. 4:8; II Cor. 5:19). The negative expressions to the effect that God does not impute sin to those whose sins are forgiven imply that God does impute sin and that the blessedness of forgiveness consists in the reversal of this imputation. We may not forget, furthermore, that even in the passage with which we are particularly concerned the

idea of imputation is clearly enunciated. “Sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13), implying, of course, that sin is imputed wherever the transgression of law obtains. Hence the judgment of God with reference to sin can be scripturally stated by saying that God imputes sin, and this means that he reckons the sinner to be guilty of the sin which belongs to him or is committed by him. If we say that the trespass of Adam is imputed to posterity, all we can strictly and properly be regarded as meaning is that the sin of Adam is reckoned by God as the sin also of posterity. The same sin is laid to their account; it is reckoned as theirs. We may not allow any arbitrary associations which may be attached to the word “imputat...

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