The New King James Version says righteousness will be imputed to us. To understand ‘imputed’, think of money being transferred from one account to another. Banks do it every day. Imagine yourself totally in debt and unable to ever pay off what you owe.
Then in an astounding act of grace someone pays off all your debts, transferring so much into your account that you never have to work again. That’s an analogy of what happened at the cross when God ‘imputed’ all your sins to Christ’s account, and ‘imputed’ all His righteousness to your account. Mind-blowing, isn’t it?
Would you say, ‘I can’t allow you to pay all these debts alone, so I’ll work to prove myself worthy of your grace’? We do that when we ‘add’ our good works to Christ’s finished work.
Paul writes, ‘For 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 NKJV) In the same sense God ‘made’ Jesus who never sinned, to ‘be’ sin, He ‘made’ you who could never be righteous enough, to ‘become’ righteous in His eyes.
You say, ‘But I feel such guilt when I sin.’ You’re supposed to! But when Christ took away all your sin, He took away all your guilt. So what are you feeling? Inner conflict! Your regenerated spirit is telling you that you can’t indulge in sin; it’s not who you are anymore! Why did God do it this way? Because any righteousness we could achieve falls far short of what He requires. Rejoice—today God sees you clothed in the righteousness of Christ, therefore you’re always loved and accepted by Him.