Christ’s Imputed Righteousness

In John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress, Christian is on his way to the Holy City. Along the way he meets Apollyon (or Satan). Satan accuses Christian of being unfaithful to God. Christian replies, “Wherein, O Apollyon! have I been unfaithful to him?” Satan answers, “Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choked in the Gulf of Despond; thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas thou shouldest have stayed till thy Prince had taken it off; thou didst sinfully sleep and lose thy choice thing; thou wast, also, almost persuaded to go back at the sight of the lions; and when thou talkest of thy journey, and of what thou hast heard and seen, thou art inwardly desirous of vain-glory in all that thou sayest or doest.”

Here Satan reminds Christian of his many sins. He accuses him of being unfaithful. But listen to Christian’s response: “All this is true, and much more which thou hast left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honour is merciful, and ready to forgive; but, besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country…and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.”

Christian was using the breastplate of righteousness to protect him from the ruthless accusations of the enemy. He reminded himself and Satan that he had been pardoned of his sin and he was clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Mark Bubeck says, “There is no stronger protection against Satan’s accusations about our unworthiness than to keep this truth of ‘imputed righteousness’ ever before our minds.”