Denying Imputation Makes Jesus a Sinner

Psalm 69 is a messianic Psalm — that is, the Psalm is prophetic and describes things the Messiah would undergo and do. It’s fairly easy to establish this. There are multiple quotations of it in the New Testament that apply it to Christ.

They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.

Psalm 69:4

John records Jesus as applying this to Himself:

But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. 

John 15:25

However, this passage could also be a reference to Psalm 35:19, which also speaks of being hated without a cause. So let’s look at some more examples. Verse 9 is actually quoted twice by the New Testament:

For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. 

Psalm 69:9

During the first temple cleansing, John records for us that the disciples applied this to Jesus:

And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 

John 2:17

And Paul directly applies the second part of the verse to Christ:

For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 

Romans 15:3

Psalm 69:22 is referenced by all four Gospel writers to show that Christ drank vinegar (or sour wine) from the cross. I will only quote from Matthew’s account for comparison.

They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Psalm 69:22

And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

Matthew 27:48

Matthew also relays He was offered gall in his account:

They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

Matthew 27:34

We will deal with one final quotation. The Psalm pronounces curses upon those that refused to help the Messiah during His suffering.

Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.

Psalm 69:25

At the beginning of the book of Acts, Peter applies this to Judas:

For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

Acts 1:20

Peter quotes it as a singular man whom this applies to rather than the plural adversaries of the Messiah in the Psalm. This is not because he’s misquoting it, but is rather because he recognizes that in this instance it applies to Judas as an adversary who did not help the Messiah in His time of suffering. It applies singularly to Judas as well as to the others who mocked Him on the cross.

Psalm 69:22-23 is also quoted by 11:9-10. However this quotation is ambiguous to whether it applies to the Messiah or not, so I will not quote it here. So what is my point in exhaustively going through all these quotations to prove Psalm 69 is messianic? Because reading it this way creates an issue for those that want to believe in the sinlessness of Christ, and yet deny the doctrine of our imputed guilt to Him.

O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. 

Psalm 69:5

If this Psalm is spoken from the point of view of the Messiah, how is it that He can say He has sins? The answer from a biblical perspective is that Christ, as the believers high priest, has the sins of His people imputed to him. He is now so identified with His people that He can call their sin His own. Even though He did not commit any sin Himself, He bore the wrath for our sin, removing our penalty. This is how the Bible can speak of Christ becoming sin for us while remaining sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Psalm even alludes to this later when it says, “the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me,” in verse 9. And what a beautiful truth this is: that Christ in love can bear and take away our sin, and therefore righteously pardon us.

However, those that refuse to accept this glorious truth are left with a trilemma. The three options they have are that the Psalm is not messianic, or that only part of the Psalm is messianic, or that Christ was actually personally a sinner. The first would require that the New Testament is in error when it applies the Psalm to Christ. The second is untenable, as it makes mincemeat of the Psalm. The speaker in the Psalm never gives any indication He is speaking of two different people, so it needs to be referring to the same person. Neither does the New Testament give any indication we should treat the messianic Psalms like this, ripping parts of the same context out and applying them to the Messiah while leaving others behind. In fact, to say one could apply parts of messianic psalms to one person and part to another would contradict Peter’s preaching in Acts 2:14-36. The Apostle makes the point that Psalm 16 cannot be about David because the Psalm says that speaker would not be left in hades, nor would his body undergo decay, which clearly happened to David. He thus is able to apply other parts of the Psalm to the Messiah. So Peter relies on the fact that messianic psalms can only apply to one person. Thus, we’re back to the New Testament being in error when applying this to Christ, because it couldn’t be about Him. The third option is untenable because the Bible says that Christ had no personal sin (1 Peter 2:21-22). The denier of imputation must therefore deny the New Testament, at least in some way, in order to maintain their doctrine.


As I’ve now proven the messianic nature of Psalm 69, I’d like to also take advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary is false. The Psalm also says:

I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children 

Psalm 69:8

Roman Catholic and Easter Orthodox will try to say the brothers of Christ mentioned in the New Testament are either half brothers (they being children of Joseph from another marriage) or that they’re cousins of Jesus. The Psalm clearly contradicts this by saying the Messiah will be estranged from His “mother’s children.” God could have very easily said they were His Father’s children, but He didn’t. They are, therefore, not cousins and not half brothers if they were Mary’s children.

Thanks to Anthony Rogers, whose exposition of the messianic nature of Psalm 69 helped clarify a lot of my thoughts:

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