The Traditional Protestant position teaches that Christ was legally imputed our sins and that we are legally imputed his righteousness. But is there any basis for this teaching in the Bible? I believe that there is a strong basis for this in 2 Corinthians 5:21, it reads:
"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
How should we understand this passage? Did Jesus actually sin or was it merely legal?
From this scripture verse we can develop the following argument
P1: Jesus becoming sin is either actual or legal
P2: It is not actual
C: Hence, it is legal
There are two reasons for supposing the truth of Premise 2. The first reason is biblical: the bible clearly and unequivocally teaches that Christ did not actually sin (Heb. 4:15). The second reason is philosophical: God being the greatest possible being it is rather impossible that such a being would be united with a sinful human nature. For if God could be united to such a sinful nature then we could think of a greater being, a being that was not united to a sinful nature. And then God would no longer be God, a clear contradiction. Thus, we are forced to conclude that the transaction is legal.
There is further Biblical evidence that the redemption event was legal in Colossians 2:13-14:
"13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross."
Given that the sin that Christ recieved was only legal in 2 Corinthians 5:21 and not actual then it is only reasonable to suppose that the righteousness spoken of in this context is legal as well. Thus, what we have here is a glorious transaction between sinner and a righteous man. A transaction that is only compatible with Protestant theology and not with Rome and Orthodoxy. We as sinners are as piles of dung covered in the snow of the glorious righteousness of Christ.