Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they maybe saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say?“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Ignorant of the Righteousness of God
I do like to try and get it right. I like to try and be the one who succeeds at the task, completes the assignment first, or who just gets the job done. This surprises some people because I like to enjoy the process as well. However, being able to perform assigned tasks gives us a false sense of worth. My identity should not be formed around actions but around faith. Paul argues this strongly with his fellow Jews.
The Jews had received a code of behaviour from God. If they believed in God and carried out his commands all would be well in this life and the next. Paul cuts through this hard work with a different idea of righteousness. Righteousness is not something that we construct with good behaviour, it is something that we receive complete from God. We confess with our mouth the mastery of Jesus and believe that the tomb is empty. The center of our being starts oriented toward God and this shows in what we do and say. So, we don’t behave our way to a transformed life, we receive a new heart which produces a transformed life.
There are not categories of first and second class citizens based on behaviour there are only those who are saved or unsaved because they have called on the name of the Lord. The Jewish people were ignorant of the righteousness that God gives as a gift. They knew all about the righteous works of the law, but they could not work their way to God’s perfect standards. Neither can we. I can not impress God through my hard work. God wins me by his own gift.
Father, I am grateful for all that you have done. I know that I sometimes strive to show my worth or to attain righteousness. However, you have gifted to me the very thing I work for. I am okay. I am eternally accepted and secure. From that position of security I want to live out a free life of love, power, and praise.
- What is Paul’s prayer?
- Who is he talking about?
- How are people saved?
- Are you saved? How do you know?
- How can you challenge those around you who seem to burn themselves out working for God?