“Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:23-25 (KJB)
For our understanding of the word impute –
“IMPU’TED, pp. Charged to the account of; attributed; ascribed.” WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN ENGLISH (1828)
Abraham believed God, and it was accounted (or imputed) to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3). The salvation of Adam’s race has never been any different than it is today.
For the people of the Old Testament period of time imputation of righteousness was on credit waiting for the coming of the Messiah to die for the sins of the people, having all our sins imputed onto Him; while on those who will believe He imputes His righteousness.
For those who believe today it is a debt that has already been paid. All our sins and trespasses were laid on Him, He died for our sins, was buried, and as the Scripture above says, “…was raised again for our justification”.
Being declared “Just” and “Righteous” by God is His work of grace; and that comes only by way of the cross of Jesus Christ.