5.3 Imputed Righteousness
Whilst we ourselves will feel the need to "confess to God" (Rom. 14:11,12) our failures and unworthiness, we have shown earlier how our Lord will not mention these to us, but instead joyfully catalogue to us those things which have so pleased him in our lives. This will be to our genuine amazement: "Lord, when..?". Keeping a subconscious inventory of our own good works now will surely prevent us from being in this category. 1 Cor. 4:5 speaks of us as receiving "praise of God" at the judgment, presumably in the form of praise for the good works which we are not aware of, as outlined in the parable (cp. Ps. 134:3). "Praise" suggests that our Lord will show quite some enthusiasm in this. Not he that commends himself will be approved [cp. The listing of good deeds by the rejected], "but whom the Lord commendeth" in as it were listing the good deeds of the accepted (2 Cor. 10:18). Our amazement and incomprehension at the judgment is also brought out in 2 Thess. 1:10, which speaks of the saints 'admiring' Christ in that day, using a Greek word meaning 'to marvel at in incomprehension'. This praise will also be on account of our being "presented faultless" before the judgment (Jude 24). The Greek for "presented" is the same word translated "stood" in Lk. 21:36, showing that our angel is able to stand us up in the august presence of the Lord, only by reason of our faults having been totally covered by Christ's imputed righteousness. Col. 1:22 has a similar message: "...to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable (Gk. 'free from accusation') in his sight". This freedom from accusation explains why none of our bad deeds will be mentioned to us then. One wonders if Paul's appearance before the judgment seat in Acts 25 is described as it is in order to help us imagine this; he has no accusers, and therefore can be acquitted. There are many links between Romans and John's Gospel; when Paul asks where is anyone to condemn us (Rom. 8:34), we are surely intended to make the connection to Jn. 8:10, where the Lord asks the condemned woman the very same question. It's as if she, there, alone with the Lord, face down, is the dead ringer of every one of us.
Our consciousness of this imputed righteousness will be very great. Is. 45:23 "Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess" is quoted by Paul in Rom. 14:11,12 as being specifically concerning our position at the judgment seat. It is therefore fitting to read Is. 45:24,25 as being concerning our thoughts then: "Surely, shall one say, in the Lord (Jesus) have I righteousness and strength...and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed (cp. our earlier reconstruction of the rejected initially arguing with the Lord in anger, and then slinking away in shame). In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory". In God's presence (judgment language: Acts 3:19; 2 Thess. 1:9; 2:19; Jude 24; Rev. 14:10) no flesh will glory, but will glory in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:29). The RV makes all this even more personal: "Only in the Lord, shall one say unto me, have I righteousness and strength" (Is. 45:24 RV). The words of grateful realization will be directed specifically by us to the Lord Himself.
The “righteous acts” of the saints will be publicly arrayed before all (Rev. 19:8)- by none other than the Lord. All their good ‘acts’ will be revealed to all. And yet that righteousness is what they are clothed with by Christ- perhaps suggesting that their good deeds will be presented in a heightened form, as imputed righteousness, which would explain why the righteous will be shocked that the Lord could speak so highly of them (“When saw we thee…?”).