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.”
The Righteousness of Man
So, what are the main issues here? Why are they not saved?
• They have a 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
This is talking about people who create their own religion and/or who follow after a false religion created in the minds of other humans. But they do not adhere to the teachings of the Scriptures, especially not to the gospel of Jesus Christ, or else they will cherry-pick the Scriptures they like and they will ignore the ones that don’t fit into their theology. And many people do this as a way to avoid having to submit to God, but to where they can create their own version of God who fits better with their lifestyles.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were skilled at this. Jesus described them in this way (based off Matthew 23):
• They do not practice what they preach
• They do their deeds to be seen by others
• They love places of honor; they love attention
• They lead people to hell on the promise of heaven
• They profess one thing but live the opposite
• They adhere to religious rituals but not to God’s righteousness
• They appear clean (righteous) outwardly but inwardly are evil
• They are full of wicked deeds, greed, hypocrisy and self-indulgence
• They persecute those who are truly righteous in God’s sight
So, when this says that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, it means that their zeal is misdirected and it isn’t truly for God but for their own creation of the god that they want to serve. They may say it is for God but their actions speak the exact opposite. It is a lot like a person who is deliberately still living in addictive sin, in direct defiance to God and to his commands (New Covenant), but then standing up and giving praise to God or talking about his wonderful times of fellowship with the Lord or then preaching to others how they need to follow the Lord Jesus.
And this is what is happening in the church today in America. So many preachers and teachers of the Scriptures are cherry-picking the Scriptures which fit with their lifestyles and with their man-created god who is not like God, and they are leading their people to do the same. And so they have zeal, but it is for the god of their own minds who meets with them in wonderful times of fellowship and of their worship of him, but who accepts them just as they are while they are still living in sinful rebellion against him, deliberately and habitually doing what they know is wrong and hurts others.
And when this says that they are ignorant of the righteousness of God, it does not mean they were lacking in knowledge or understanding of the righteousness of God, but that they choose their own righteousness over the righteousness of God. For there are many professers of faith in Jesus Christ today who know what the Scriptures teach, but they make up their own gospel, anyway, so that they can continue in sin without conscience and without guilt. So, it isn’t that they don’t know right from wrong. They do. It is that they choose the wrong and reject the right when it suits them.
So, they don’t submit to God’s righteousness, for then they would have to obey the Lord in all ways. They would have to surrender control of their lives over to Jesus Christ, but they don’t want that. Their pride will not let them. And so in their stubbornness and rebellion they create their own god and their own faith and their own gospel which fits with how they want to live and so that they can still claim to be Christians and in close fellowship with God while they continue in deliberate and habitual sin. And this can go on for a long time, and some people never change and they die without Christ.
Now, some people’s own religion is that of legalism, which is like the Pharisees. They were good at following a bunch of external rules and regulations and ceremonies and customs which had nothing to do with true righteousness. But they were full of all kinds of wickedness inside. The flip side of this is not that much different, though, for now the majority of what is being taught in today’s modern churches is that we can make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and be guaranteed heaven when we die, but we don’t have to repent of our sins or obey the Lord (under the New Covenant).
So, whether you are a legalist who adheres to a bunch of external customs and rules or you are a libertine who feels as though you don’t have to obey any rules at all, but that you can live however you want and still be saved and on your way to heaven, both are of the flesh of man. Both are man-made religion which seeks to establish its own god and its own righteousness and its own way to heaven which is not the narrow way but the broad way that many follow. For neither legalism nor libertinism submits to God’s righteousness but both seek to establish their own.
The Righteousness of God
So, what do the Scriptures teach? Jesus said that if anyone would come after him that he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For, if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for Jesus’ sake we die with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness, then we have the hope of eternal life with God (Luke 9:23-26; 1 Peter 2:24).
Jesus also said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. For on the day when Jesus returns to judge many are going to tell the Lord what all they did for him in his name, but he is going to declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” And this is because they sought to establish their own righteousness and not the righteousness of God (see Matthew 7:21-23).
So, what is the righteousness of God? The Scriptures teach that we must die with Christ to sin and follow him in obedience. Sin is to no longer be what we practice, but righteousness and obedience to our Lord are to be what we practice, but not in the flesh, which is impossible anyway, but by the Spirit and in the power and working of God in our lives. For if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God regardless of what professions of faith we have proclaimed in Jesus Christ. So please know and follow the truth.
[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
My Heart’s Desire
An Original Work / June 29, 2013
Based off Rm. 10; Lu. 9:23-26; Ep. 4:20-24
Loved Ones, Oh, my heart’s desire
Is that you might come to Jesus.
Many appear zealous for God,
But they do not trust in Him.
They have not submitted to the One
Who saved them from their sins;
Not forsaken their sins,
Nor have they obeyed their King.
The word of the Lord is near you:
The word of faith we’re proclaiming:
That you must confess your faith
In Jesus as your Lord and King:
Believe in Him as your Lord,
And follow Him where’er He leads.
Share the gospel; be a witness,
And meet others’ needs.
Beautiful are the feet of those
Who bring the good news of Jesus:
Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself today;
Die to sin and self, and
Let the Spirit transform you in heart;
Put on your new self in Jesus,
Yielding to the cross.