Last Wednesday night, I was looking for some Scripture to finish our Share Jesus Without Fear training and I read this passage again for the first time:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:1-4)
Verse 1 would have stunned Paul’s readers. For centuries, Jews were taught that salvation came through following the law. In verse 2, Paul acknowledges his people’s zeal for God and His law. However Paul’s people, including himself, had a zeal that lacked knowledge of God’s true righteousness.
In verse 3, Paul writes that the Jews established their own righteousness because of their ignorance towards God. This led them to a false righteousness. Again, being told this the Jews must have been astounded and angered.
Nevertheless, Paul continues in verse 4 to instruct them in God’s true righteousness. Jesus Christ came in the flesh and fulfilled all the law so that if anyone by faith believes in Christ’s righteousness, they will be saved. Matthew Henry explains:
“Christ has fulfilled the whole law, therefore whoever believeth in Him, is counted just before God, as much as though he had fulfilled the whole law himself. Sinners never could go on in vain fancies of their own righteousness, if they knew the justice of God as a Governor, or His righteousness as a Savior.”
I know so many unbelievers who may understand their need for Christ, and yet they won’t surrender to His lordship. One of the most common excuses I hear is that, “I need to get my life straightened out before I get right with Jesus.” How do you answer such a response?
I tell that person I have good news and bad news about their approach. Usually they want to hear the bad news first. I tell them the bad news is that will never happen. They will never get their life straightened out before they come to Christ. Then I tell them that the good news is that they don’t have to. The good news is:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
If God had waited until we straightened out our lives before we received Christ, our Heavenly Father would still be waiting. Believing such a thing is of what Paul writes that the Jews tried to establish their own righteousness. They did so, and we believe so, because we are ignorant of God’s righteousness.
Thankfully we have the Holy Bible to clear up all the stinking thinking we’ve been taught over the years. I used to believe that my own goodness, my righteousness, would somehow tip the scales of salvation in my favor. The Bible teaches that all my works are as filthy rags. It also teaches that I am saved by God’s unmerited favor:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Dear friend, I was guilty of boasting of my works, even though I had very little of which to boast. And yet, Jesus broke through that hard shell of pride surrounding my heart and showed me my need for Him. When I realized that I could not earn my salvation by my own works of righteousness, or following the traditions of a church, I came to understand I needed Jesus and Jesus only.
It is my prayer that not only Jews would come to Christ, but also any man or woman who thinks they can attain their own righteousness. Paul says for you to believe that you must be ignorant of God’s righteousness. Why? It is because Christ’s sinless life, sacrificial death, and subsequent resurrection means we no longer need the law to be righteous in the eyes of God.
We need Jesus.
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Copyright © 2014 David Jeffers