"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." Romans 10:3
Beloved, was there not a time when you went about trying to establish your own righteouness just like ancient Israel and just like Paul? If you're honest with yourself you know you were guilty of this very thing. Your idea of getting to heaven was based on your good deeds outweighing your bad deeds. Your righteousness was based on your own set of rules. "Do this and don't do that!" "I should live this way and not that way."
"Give your tithes and offerings" "Say your 'Hail Marys ten times a day" "Confess your sins to the priest" "Be at mass whenever possible but if not it's okay because I'll just confess that to the priest and everything will be alright."
Perhaps you were brought up in a church and were taught that salvation or justification in particular doesn't come by the law of God but by Jesus Christ. You were taught correctly but you may have fooled yourself into thinking you were a partaker of this righteousness of Jesus Christ by your intellectual grasp of certain doctrines or truths found in the Bible.
If this is the case then in all likelihood you are still living under the law of sin and death and your adamant heart is rebelliously crying within "I will not have this man to reign over me." Luke 19:14 You know that Jesus is Lord but you pehaps think you can take Him as only a saviour to deliver you from the penalty of sin without also taking Him as a Lord to rule over you and be saved from the power of sin. Such a sad condition or state merits the pity of any believer in Christ who has tasted that the Lord is good and has come to drink of the waters of life. Psalm 34:8; Revelation 21:6
If you are a religious person and are trusting in anything other than the righteousness of God then you are still under the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2) and guilty before God of breaking every single commandment. Now what does the law say?
"The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life....here's the righteousness of God revealed...THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD" Romans 6:23
Every church has their idea of what constitutes a good Christian. Do you measure yourself by any standard other than the righteousness of God? If so, then you do err like the Pharisees during Jesus' day, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
When it comes to being justified before God the Jews were mistaken and the apostle Paul takes them to task over this very thing. Lest we be too harsh on the Jews, today man is no different. That is to say, natural man, who is dead in trespasses and sins, (Eph 2:1) still seeks to establish his own righteousness which is of the law. Try as he may man fails to keep the law perfectly and this brings one into condemnation.
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2:10
Paul said he desired and prayed for his dear Jewish brethren who had a great zeal for God but not according to knowledge. This is to say they were mistaken in their knowledge of what justified them before Godl. They were still trying to merit favor with God by keeping God's commandments. This they could not do. No man except Jesus Christ has ever kept the law perfectly and that is why he came to earth to fulfil the law and offer Himself an offering for the sins of His people, His sheep.
There's nothing wrong with keeping God's commandments. The problem is that God requires perfect obedience in order to be justified in His sight. God can not lower His standard to satisfy or fit man's weakness and inability to comply with the law's just demands. God is holy and He commands us to be holy.
The only way we can be holy is to have the righteousness of God which is the obedience of Christ imputed to our account as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:30 "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God perfect and without blemish. His went about doing good and always did those things which pleased His Father.
Do you always do those things which please your parents? Do you? "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12 Do you spend more time enjoying amusements, sports or travel more than you spend time enjoying God? Do you give more time to reading popular women's fashion magazines and watching TV than you do to reading and meditating upon the Holy Scritures? Then you are guilty of idolatry and breaking the first commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3
Examine yourself by God's standard and not mans for man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. See if you have the righteousness which exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees for they were outwardly very strict and upright in keeping the commandments but they didn't have that righteousness of God which is in Jesus Christ. Matthew 5:30
Oh, the spiritual blessings in Jesus. Oh, the wonders of His love and mercy that God would send His only begotten Son to this cruel, sinful and wicked world to become sin for us that we through Him and His righteousness might live.
Christians who have been justified by the faith of Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16) keep the law as a principle and their motive is the love of God which works in them both to will and do of His good pleasure. (Phil 2:13) This is the faith which works by love and is inherent in all God's elect. Fal. 5:6;Titus 1:1
Paul, was zealous once and self-righteous in his own eyes but then the law came and killed him. It was after the commandment came that sin revived and he died. He died being slain by the law's just demands for the righteousness that Moses described was "That the man which doeth those things shall live by them."
Do you live by them? If not you will die by them and they will condemn you at the Judgment Day. May it never be said to those who read these words "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (lawlessness) Matthew 7:23
Let us earnestly seek to have that righteousness which is of faith and not of the law "for by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." Romans 3:20
"Riches proft not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivers from death." Proverbs 11:4
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching. See his videos on http://www.youtube.com Type LAStreetPreacher in the search bar. CONTACT at Carlton2061@gmail.com
Read more articles by Carlton Pruitt or search for articles on the same topic or others.