March 21, 2021

The Value of Righteousness


Probably you have seen such a phenomenon – a young couple starts dating, and all they see in each other is what they want to see and what they like; they are not able to even conceive a thought that the other person has anything that might displease them. It is a kind of selective perception of reality…

Something similar happens in a relationship with God, when people choose those qualities of God’s character that they like, ignoring other important attributes. When asked, which would they prefer: God’s mercy or righteousness; everyone goes for mercy!

What about your salvation: forgiveness of sins, or righteousness? Forgiveness, of course! Paul is trying to correct this misunderstanding!

Read Romans 10:5-8. Before talking about the meaning and the purpose of this text, let’s clarify one term…

Righteousness. Greek: Dikaiosune is a quality of character that says a person is right, has not broken the law, is truthful and just. Applying this to God: God always acts in accordance with what is just!

This is important to understand because the question arises: why talk about righteousness at all? When a person comes into contact with the righteousness of God, and realizes that he has one application of this righteousness – God’s judgment! Moreover, God’s righteousness does not allow a person to simply be forgiven – after all, justice requires the punishment of sin! For example, you broke the law, and standing before the judge you say that since He is merciful, He must let you go. But what about justice? That’s why when Christ comes and suffered for you and me, He took the punishment that you should’ve received, and on the basis of this action, God shows mercy, remaining to be righteous! Therefore, righteousness also implies mercy through payment (Rom. 3:21-26).

What about us? We also are facing dilemma regarding our righteousness! 1) God’s nature also expects the same from us – God says, be holy, for I am holy; we love because He first loved us! There is a specific expectation (when a person is looking for God), but 2) he cannot be just, truthful and hones if he does not first resolve the issue of past sins! What do we do with the past sins?

3 questions that will help us evaluate and treasure righteousness!

I. What does the law say? (v. 5)

What does Moses say? – the one who fulfills the law will live! He does not say that the one who knows the law, or even memorizes the law, but the one who obeys it! 

Moses does not soften the expectations of the law – if you want to live – obey the law! Clear expectation!

A. Man must completely obey (Duet. 27:26; James 2:10). This is the expectation of the law! Only through full and compete obedience the life is available!

For this to work, you need to begin without sin, life without sin, and in the future never break the law – they you will live!

Who on earth was able to fulfill this proposed way? No one! How can we obey the law if we have all already broken it? The glass is broken… it is impossible to try to hold it in the shape of a glass, and even more so, to drink from it. No one can do this even for a second (1 Kng. 8:46). This is salvation by works and an attempt to earn the acceptance with God!

B. Man is not able to completely obey

Just if we in this church preached such a way of salvation! What a burden it would be to come Sunday after Sunday and hear that you have to work hard so as not to break the law, otherwise, you will not go to heaven.

Two very important conclusions (why is Paul using this fact here?)=: 1) This statement is very clear! There is no doubt that everyone understands this important principle! There is no doubt about this reality! It’s like a clear sky! 2) It is impossible! This statement – expects from us perfect obedience – no one can fulfill it! 

Is this encouraging or discouraging? Most likely, it looks like hopelessness… 

II. What does the Gospel say? (vv. 6-7)

A. The Gospel points to the imputed righteousness. Verse 6 begins with a quote from (Deut. 9:4-5) – it is the exposure of human righteousness in works! It is gone! 

Paul beautifully takes away from us any attempts to be justified before God!

This is not a work to reach heaven and hell, this is not knowledge of all the depths of hell and knowledge of heaven, this is not an experience, as if you had been in heaven, and then to abyss (the realm of dead), and only then one would say – “this is enough, now I can speak about my salvation!” (2 Cor. 5:21 – imputed righteousness of Christ).

B. The Gospel speaks of the simplicity of salvation

Paul quotes two passages from Deuteronomy 30:11-14 – and it is about the same law that it is clear and accessible! Paul applies this to the Gospel! It is just as clear, understandable and accessible! And this is OT! Even at the time of Moses there was righteousness by faith!

Just as Moses clearly said – fulfill and you will live, now the Gospel says – believe in Jesus Christ – and you will live! Extremely simple and straightforward!

Did you believe that Christ suffered and died for your sin? Trust God! Believe in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice!

This very simple parallel teaches us a profound truths – just as we say with confidence that if a person fulfill, the whole law, he will live, the Gospel says – if you believe with all your heart and trust Christ, you will live!

The only contrast is that in the first case, no one can fully fulfill the law, but in the Gospel, Christ fulfilled the law perfectly for us, and now every believer will receive forgiveness for free without laboring for it! 

That’s why, there are also two questions that the Gospel forbids to ask!

When a person reads the expectations of the law: keep all the law and you shell live. Everything is clear, and with the same attitude a person reads the Gospel, asks a similar question – what should I do? The answer is: you should not do! Christ did it all! It was impossible to fulfill the law… don’t says that salvation according to the Gospel is impossible in this way – it is exact opposite! Just as life by works was impossible, so salvation by faith is easy, perhaps available! This is the meaning of these verses!

C. The Gospel takes away all excuses

No excuses! Now, it is clear why the Apostle Paul adds after every attempt to justify himself that it is as if we were canceling the work that Christ did! Paul says that if we went to heaven, and then hell, then by similar deeds we would try to fulfill the very Gospel that Christ has already fulfilled!

Seeking justification for yourself is like fulfilling the Gospel yourself (becoming the messiah yourself…) – this is completely against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because He has already descended from heaven and became a man, lived a holy life, died, having descended into abyss… With our own justification, we are trying to produce another Gospel! There is absolutely no need to do this!

It turns out that our hope now is not in what we could do, but only in what Christ did by descending from heaven, and then going back up. This is incarnation and his humbling by taking up the image of a servant, suffering, and dying. But when on the third day He was raised, and after a while ascended into heaven, where is now interceding for us. Now, our hope is not in our deeds, but in the what He did when He came down from heaven, suffered, died and rose from the dead! He perfectly did everything for us, so that we could be justified

Conclusion: The law says – “you must follow the rules completely,” but this is absolutely impossible for a person! The Gospel says, a person cannot use the same argument about salvation by faith! Just as it was not possible through the law, it is equally possible under the Gospel and salvation by faith!

Dear friend, what do you used to justify or excuse yourself in not trusting Christ? What is it? Do you say that you need knowledge all the way up to heaven and as deep as abyss? Or that you must do a lot of works, so that reaches heaven and underworld? Or that you should have experience so vivid and awesome that reaches heaven and abyss? No! Just simple faith!!!

If the Gospel demanded from us some kind of special sacrifice, or a special action, then most likely many people in the world would try to fulfill these conditions in order to reach heaven. But the Gospel does not set such conditions – this conditions were met by Christ, and only faith in that is required of us!

III. What does the Scripture say? (v. 8)

Another quote from Deut. 30:14 – The Word is near!

Scripture says that this is a simple Gospel and very accessible!

If you realize that you are a sinner, then today you need to drop absolutely all excuses (this is what we are all inclined to do), and simply by faith receive this justification by asking God for forgiveness by confessing your sins!

All religions in the world claim what Verse 5 says – you obey and you will be accepted by God. And only the Gospel says – you are accepted by God, therefore you obey! This is the righteousness by faith!

Righteousness – it as if I take the green glass and look at everything through it, everything is colored green! Our righteousness is the imputed righteousness of Christ! And the righteousness of Christ is the very green glass through which God looks at us and sees everything in the light of the fact that Christ is our Savior and our righteousness.

Among Chinese characters, there is an unusual word – the word for righteousness. This character consists of two words combined: the character for the lamb plus character for me; and when the lamb is placed over the character for me, you get the word “righteousness”. 

(v. 8) In the mouth and in the heart… – this is a change on a deeper level! (Deut. 30:6) – a changed heart under the action of the new covenant!

This text says that salvation is as close to a person as the mouth and the heart!

Regardless of how far from God you feel, how strong the feeling of guilt, how deeply you have sunk into sin, how small seems your chances are, salvation is as close to you as your mouth and heart!

In this position, we truly begin to appreciate the righteousness… the imputed righteousness of Christ!

(1 Cor. 1:30-31) – this naturally leads us to worship!

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