Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NTDS (27): Righteousness Revealed

Rom 1:17  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." NIV

Read this verse again and then read it again. What Paul, through the Holy Spirit, teaches in this one verse is nothing short of life changing when we grasp it’s meaning. He begins by telling us that the gospel (good news or good message) is revealing something and it is something of major importance to all mankind.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, will write in great detail about what this good news is, but for now let’s look at the short version. The good news, which came first to the Jews and then the Gentiles (non-Jews), is that the penalty for sin (our inability to live according to God’s law) has been paid. This payment was completed at the death of Jesus of Nazareth, the God-Man, on the cross. Jesus’ death, created the opportunity for anyone to be able to come into God’s presence forever, by placing his or her faith in Him.

This is the gospel Paul preached and he said that any other gospel preached was false (Gal 1:8). Paul regularly affirmed Jesus’ proclamation that He was the way, the truth and the life and that no one could come to the Father except through Him and that the only way to come to Jesus was through faith. Eph 2:8- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.”  NIV

Now, if you look closely at our theme verse, you see that Paul says that the gospel reveals to us a righteousness. He explains that this righteousness comes from faith. This begs three questions. What is the difference between this form of righteousness and what was previously understood as righteousness? Secondly, how does faith bring about this righteousness? Third, why is this important to us?

The key to understanding all of this is to remember that the gospel was delivered first to the Jews. You see, the Jewish people had an understanding, from the Old Testament scriptures, that their righteousness (right standing before God) was accomplished by following the law, as set down by God through Moses. This was true, but there were two problems with this. Number one, they could not possibly keep the law perfectly. Number two, following the rabbi’s and teachers of the law, the people were attempting to follow the law in a technical sense, but their hearts were not in it. For most of the Jews at the time of Jesus’ appearing, their obedience was strictly an outward following of rituals. This is why Jesus had said to their leaders,
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
 Matt 23:27 NIV

Now, Paul is teaching that one can never be in right standing with God by their own righteousness or good works. The gospel reveals that the only way to be right with God is through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of all mankind. Righteousness has come by means of God’s grace and it is a gift!  

Why is that so important for us? Because so many people today still believe that they can stand before God in their own good works, their own righteousness. Paul says that the gospel reveals that this is impossible! That is why it is so important for us to get that same message, the good news of salvation, by grace, through faith, out to the world. No one will be saved from God’s wrath (read the rest of Romans 1) by his or her own goodness. We must be like Paul, who said in verse 16 of Romans 1, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” NIV

It is also life changing for those of you who are already trusting Christ for your salvation. Even as believers we can get caught up into thinking that we are still under the law and we live in guilt about our inability to perfectly follow God’s law. We need to stop doing that and instead, live under God’s grace and mercy. Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the deeds of the flesh (Gal 5). That is how our Lord wants us to live this life, in the joy of His salvation! I pray that you will take hold of this truth so that you may live your life to the fullest, trusting completely in Jesus finished work on the cross.

God bless you


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