111.0/112.0 - Righteousness In Christ: Now, let's consider the two distinct kinds of righteousness that Christ brings to the believer. One is Imputed Righteousness, and the other is Reality Based Righteousness. These two different benefits are rooted respectively in the dual roles that Christ plays in the redemptive work as the Dying Christ and the Living Christ. So, let's begin with Imputed Righteousness, which is rooted in the work of the Dying Christ.
111.1/112.1 - Imputed Righteousness: The Dying Christ enables forgiveness and thereby reconciles us to the Father. But, here is the rest of the story. His sacrifice not only brings forgiveness and reconciliation, but it also provides the initial protection of Imputed Righteousness.
Again, Imputed Righteousness is a type righteousness which has no basis in the believer everyday reality. Instead, it is a righteousness which is simply based in the absolution which we receive through the Cross. So, imputed righteousness is merely an assign righteousness, given to us simply because Christ's death on the Cross clears the slate of charges against us.
Paul describes this in Romans, chapter 4. There he says, "... But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.'"
So, in reality, the believer, herself, is not actually righteous. She simply enjoys the assignment of righteousness in the mind of God, due to the atoning work of the Dying Christ.
We should probably also point out that this initial benefit of Christ's death on the Cross is somewhat transitional in nature. This preliminary protection anticipates a time when the believer will enter into a Reality Based Righteousness in her life.
111.2/112.2 - Reality Based Righteousness: Eventually, the believer, in the power of the Living Christ, does, indeed, enter into a reality based righteousness in his life. This reality based righteousness, as the name indicates, is based in the believer's true lifestyle reality. It is a real righteousness that is brought to life and enabled by the power of the Living Christ as He lives within the disciple. In short, the Living Christ empowers the believer to actually live a consistently righteous life.
It is accurate to say that Imputed Righteousness always remains the believers safety net. But, it is also true that as the believer matures in the power of Christ, His sufficiency renders that necessity into a constantly diminishing one. This is true because, as the power of Christ begins to express itself in the believer, he or she begins to exhibit an expanding righteousness which is actually based in fact.
Sometimes, in life "two bridges" are, indeed, required to complete a crossing. So it is in the course of the redemptive journey. It requires both Imputed Righteousness and Reality Based Righteousness.