Seeking to Establish Your 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.”

So, what are the main issues here? Why are they not saved?

• They have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge
• They are ignorant of the true righteousness of God
• They are seeking to establish their own righteousness
• They do not submit to God’s righteousness

So, let’s look at this in context. Romans 1 talks about God’s wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. So God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to dishonorable passions, and to committing shameless acts, etc. So, unrighteousness results in sinful behaviors, thus righteousness results in godly behaviors and the honoring of God.

Romans 2:6-8: “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”

I think that is pretty clear in what that says there. We will be judged by our works, and for those who are self-seeking, and who do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. Let that sink in. For, “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good” (Rom 2:9-10).

In Romans 6 we read that “our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” So we are not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies, to make us obey its passions. For sin will have no dominion over us. For we are slaves of the one whom we obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness and to sanctification, and its end is eternal life with God.

And in Romans 8:1-14 we read that God sent us Jesus, and he condemned sin in the flesh, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

So, the knowledge of God’s righteousness can be gained by reading all of the book of Romans, not just a few cherry picked Scriptures, and to read it in context, one chapter at a time. And we learn that God’s righteousness has to do with us walking (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and it has to do with honoring God for who he is, and it has to do with us obeying our Lord in doing the good we ought to do.

And righteousness has to do with us no longer being enslaved to sin, and us not being under the control of sin, and us not letting sin reign in our mortal bodies, and not obeying sin’s passions, and us not obeying sin, which leads to death, but us obeying obedience, which ends in eternal life. And it has to do with putting to death the deeds of the body, so we will live, and us being led by the Spirit, and us not living by the flesh, or we will die.

So, seeking to establish their own righteousness and not submitting to God’s righteousness, involves people seeking after the pleasures of this sinful world, and yielding to the passions of the sinful flesh, and refusing to obey the Lord and to forsake their sinful practices. Now that can include making up their own rules for what they believe makes them righteous, but seeking to establish OUR OWN righteousness is not via obeying our Lord and living righteously, for those are his standards of righteousness, not ours.

Romans 10:5-11 ESV

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 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); 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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Now, we must distinguish here between the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial, and purification laws the Jews under the Old Covenant had to follow, and the way of the cross of Christ, and of grace. We don’t have to obey all those liturgical laws. But the way of the cross, and the way of grace still includes God’s moral laws, and it still includes obedience to his commands, only to those commands that continued under the New Covenant. For we are not free from having to obey our Lord’s commands, which is apparent when you read the other chapters of Romans.

Faith in Jesus Christ in the New Testament is coupled with obedience to our Lord and to his New Covenant commands, but also to obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and not just to the written word. And that obedience includes dying with Christ to sin and living to him and to his righteousness, and us forsaking our sins to follow Jesus in obedience.

And confessing involves us agreeing with God, having the same mind as God about something, and Lord means “Owner-master.” So, if we are confessing Jesus as Lord with our mouths it isn’t just lip service, but it is having the same mind as God about Jesus Christ now being our owner-master and us being his slaves/servants, here to do his will, and to obey his commands. So, this involves us submitting to Christ as Lord and us obeying him.

And belief comes from God. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us (persuades us) to come to faith in Christ, a faith which is gifted to us by God and is not of our own doing and is perfected by Christ. So this faith will submit to Christ as Lord, and it will forsake a lifestyle of sinning against God, and it will follow Jesus in obedience, because it is of God, and this is what God requires of us.

So, you can’t just make a verbal confession with your mouth of Jesus as Lord if he isn’t really Lord (owner-master) of your life, and for your confession to be genuine. And you can say all you want that you believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead, but unless that faith is biblical faith which submits to Christ as Lord, and which walks in obedience to our Lord’s commands, then it is of the flesh and not of God. Please take this to heart!

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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