Seeking to Establish Our own Righteousness

Romans 10:1-4 ESV

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Let’s take a walk through the book of Romans, well through chapter one. Paul stated that he was a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, to bring about the OBEDIENCE OF FAITH for the sake of the name of Jesus among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, who are called to be saints (Rom 1:1-7).

So, faith in Jesus Christ involves obedience (submissiveness, compliance). And faith means “faithfulness, trust, and fidelity.” Faith is gifted to us by God, and it does not come from ourselves. And it means to be persuaded (convinced) by God as to his will for our lives to the point to where we choose to do what he chooses for our lives.

So, this obedience of the faith is also for the sake (on behalf of, or for the betterment of) the name (character, reputation, cause, authority, fame) of Jesus Christ, God the Son. This faith is for the revelation of his character. And what is Jesus’ character? It is holy, righteous, pure, honest, trustworthy, faithful, and upright, etc.

So, this obedience of faith for the sake of the name of Jesus is to be brought about in the lives of those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. This means he now owns us. He is the boss. He is our master, and we are his bondservants, no longer slaves of sin but now slaves of righteousness.

And it is for us who are called to be saints, which means to be holy, to be set apart from the world and to be set apart to God and to his service. It means we are no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are transformed in mind away from living in sin to living in his holiness.

So, there is no way that any of us can walk away from even these first seven verses of Romans 1 with the impression that faith in Jesus Christ is some feeling or assent to who Jesus is and to what he did and that it doesn’t involve obedience to Christ and a desire to do his will.

So, Christ’s righteousness in us is not some status that we hold, but it is evident in what we do. Look at Paul. The first thing he said is that he is a servant of Jesus Christ. The word literally means “slave.” Jesus owns him, and he does what the Lord says. He obeys him. And we must obey Him.

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, The righteous shall live by faith.’” Rom 1:17 ESV

Righteousness is what is deemed right by the Lord. It is what is approved in His eyes. And he does not approve of sin, but he approves of holiness, godliness, uprightness, purity, love, faithfulness, honesty, and morality. So, our faith in Jesus Christ is going to involve what is approved by God.

Yes, we are only made righteous in God’s sight by God’s grace through faith, and this doesn’t come from ourselves. But faith is divine persuasion as to God’s will for our lives, and it is action, and it involves obedience to the Lord. And “righteous” relates to conformity to God’s standards, to his will.

So, for us to live in Christ and Christ in us, and for us to have eternal life with God, we must have faith in Jesus Christ, but not past faith or stagnant faith, but active faith which is continuous and involving submission to Christ as Lord, walking in obedience to him, and leaving our sins behind us.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Rom 1:18 ESV

Okay, so now we are given a look at those who are not living by faith, who have not been made righteous through God-given faith in Jesus Christ. They have been shown the righteousness of God by God through his created works. But, although they knew God, they didn’t honor him as God. They chose their idols over God.

So, the wrath of God is revealed against them because of their ungodliness, which is not just a state of being, but has to do with action. They didn’t revere God, they were wicked, they did what was evil in God’s sight. They did not submit to him. They violated God’s standards rather than upholding them. And so, they are without excuse.

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Rom 1:24-25 ESV).

So, let’s now go back to Romans 10:1-4:

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

What did we just learn about the righteousness of God? And what did we just learn about those who do not submit to God’s righteousness (from Romans 1)?

We learned that faith in Jesus Christ involves obedience (submission) to our Lord, and that the word “faith” means “faithfulness,” and it means to be persuaded by God as to his divine will and purpose for our lives. And, this persuasion involves us, then, choosing to obey his will for our lives.

We learned that this obedience of faith is on behalf of the name (character, fame) of Jesus Christ, thus revealing and giving glory to his character, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, honest, trustworthy, faithful, and upright, etc. And it means that the Lord is our master, thus we obey him.

We also learned that righteousness is not just a status, but it is action, and that it involves us doing what is approved by God. He doesn’t approve of sin, but he approves of holiness, faithfulness, purity, honesty, and uprightness. And it means we are living in conformity to God’s standards.

We also learned that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. So, this involves their actions. They are wicked. They do what is evil in God’s sight. They violate God’s standards of holiness and righteousness.

So, if we are ignorant of the righteousness of God, and we seek to establish our own, and thus we do not submit to Christ’s righteousness, it means we are not living godly and holy lives in submission to our Lord and in obedience to his will, but we are creating our own gospel which permits us to keep living in sin, doing what we want, and encouraging others to do likewise.

“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom 1:32 ESV).

Enough said! The truth speaks for itself!

Anniversary Song

By Ann Aschauer

Well, some folks think that “love” means emotion,
So it comes and goes their whole life through.
Some folks never know that when the magic goes,
If you keep on lovin’, it’ll come back to you.
I was so afraid we’d lose the special feeling,
And someday we’d find our love wasn’t true,
But then God opened up my eyes and made me realize,
Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do.

And so we stood side by side at the altar,
As our wills and God’s power combined.
With His help I could say, “I do love you today,
And I will for a long, long time.”

c 1987 Ann Aschauer
Used by permission

6 thoughts on “Seeking to Establish Our own Righteousness

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