Righteousness by faith is a very simple process. And it is not a new process because it existed even prior to Jesus coming. Parts of this section of scripture show the pre-existence of righteousness by faith even under the law for even then there was a requirement of faith.
More importantly though is that it was necessary, no, essential, that righteousness by faith be simple. The righteousness that would lead all mankind who chose to come to God had to be simple so that it would be accessible to all of mankind. That is why simplicity was the foremost element of this process.
Here we see Paul discuss this simplicity and he paraphrases parts of the Old Testament showing that it is simple and not hard to find.
Righteousness by Law
First up, Paul talks about righteousness under the law and how it must be achieved. Now we know that no man is righteous under the law for the law shows sin for what it is and no man can keep the law. However, if a man could keep the law then he would have to live by all of the precepts, practices and minute details of the law to achieve righteousness under law.
Only one person ever achieved that righteousness and that was Jesus Christ. He was the only person to live who never fell victim to the desires of the flesh which lead to sin.
But the rest of mankind is not that able to live 24/7 without breaking the law. And thus they needed the sacrifices for sin that were also prescribed under the law to atone for their sins. These sacrifices gave people forgiveness of sin, but they did not remove sin. It was only after Jesus came that removal of sin became possible as John the Baptist predicted in John 1:29 when he said,
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
But prior to Jesus it was said in the law by Moses and repeated by Paul here in Romans 10,
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. (Romans 10:5)
Those who choose to live under the law seeking the righteousness found in the law MUST live by every commandment and ordinance of the law. They cannot pick and choose and ignore some. They must live by ALL of the laws if they are to find a righteousness based on law.
And the law does not consist just of the Ten Commandments. There are more than six hundred laws written in the Old Testament given by Moses to the people of Israel. Every one of those laws is part of the Mosaic Law and every one has to be followed and obeyed if you are to seek righteousness by and under the law.
And it is and will be hard work. It will be rewarding to do because God wants you to do what is right, but it will be hard.
And it will be easy to think that the righteousness you have under the law is all your own work and your own doing. You may think that you are a good person, perhaps better than others because you keep the law and you will see others breaking it.
But such thinking is arrogant and proud and it actually opposes the principles of justice, mercy and faith that underpin the law. This was the error of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and at times the whole of the nation of Israel. It was such thinking that led to their fall from God’s grace and opened the door for the Gentiles to come into the flock.
Where will Righteousness be Found?
But when Jesus came all of that changed. Righteousness under the law, which was a hard walk, was no longer the only path to God. We see Jesus make this point and showed a definite line in the sand between the times of the Old Testament law and the New Testament teachings. He said,
16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. (Luke 16:16-17)
The reign of the law and the prophets as the only way to reach the kingdom of God ended with John the Baptist. Since then the good news of the kingdom of God has been preached and these are the words and teachings of Jesus Christ.
The teachings of the new covenant are not based upon works or the keeping of many, many laws. They are based upon faith in the works of God through Jesus Christ. They are beaded upon believing in what God has done through Jesus to redeem man from sin and restore us through His salvation to be able to live lives of godliness.
And it is not hard to be a Christian. In fact it is the simplest thing in the world for God made it that way so that every person could come to Him and receive the free gift of righteousness and salvation.
How Simple is it then?
So let us look at the simplicity of righteousness by faith. What do you have to do to receive this righteousness from God?
In a word…nothing. You don’t “DO” anything. You only need to believe. As these scripture here says,
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:11-13)
As it says in verse 11, it is the one who “believes” that will not be put to shame. And again in verse 13 it is the one who “calls on the name of the Lord” who will be saved. Both of these are acts of faith, believing and calling on the Lord.
That is how simple it is to be a Christian. Simply believe in Jesus Christ and call on His name and you will be saved.
But man tends to complicate things, and not for good purposes. There is a common saying that says “knowledge is power”. Thus men like to accumulate knowledge so that they can have power over other people and events.
This is not the way of God. Yes there is a place for knowledge, but the knowledge is meant to be used to help others, teach them the truth and lead them to God so that their faith may be stronger and they can stand mature in Jesus Christ.
Instead men have taken the words of God and made them incomprehensible saying that unless you have a degree or diploma of higher learning in theology or divinity or a diploma from a bible school, then you can’t know the truth. This is not the way of God.
God’s ways are shown in this section of scripture for He says,
6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 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); 9 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:6-10)
What He is saying here in verses 6-7 is that you do not have to search into heaven or go into the grave to seek Christ. You do not have to trek to high mountains or go to the depths of the sea to find Christ. You do not have to traverse continents to seek a teacher who c an show you the way to Christ and the ways of God. It is not that hard at all.
All you need has been given to you in the bible and it can lead you to Christ. And to be accepted by God to be able to receive His free gifts, including the gift of righteousness by faith, all you need to do is believe. As it shows in verse 8 above, the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. That is faith. When you believe and speak the words you are showing that you have faith. You accept Jesus in your heart and confess that you are a Christian with your mouth which proclaims your faith to the world. And so you receive His salvation.
Yes, it is that simple. And it had to be simple and it had to be based upon faith because ALL people have the capacity to believe and have faith. All people can accept something and say, “Yes, I believe that to be true!”
Thus faith opens the way to righteousness as a free gift from God to all who choose to believe. In return for their faith in the work that God did in and through Jesus Christ, God proclaims His people righteous as He did with Abraham.
Could it get any simpler than that? Just believe and receive righteousness and salvation.
Yes there is a place for knowledge, which will be the topic of my next post. But it is important to understand the knowledge God gives and how it is to be used. But salvation, righteousness and all the gifts of God are not based upon how much you know. Nor are they related to any other things some people believe will commend them to God. They cannot be received by knowledge, wisdom, good works, physical prowess, sacrifice or any other process some people choose to try and please God with.
It is only through faith that we can please God and that faith is simply based on accepting and confessing Jesus in your life.
You might also like:
My Yoke Is Easy And My Burden Is Light
The Great Commission Part 3
If You Keep My Commandments
The Power Of One
Doing The Will Of The Father
Holy Spirit Convicts
Baptising The Ethiopian
Keeping The Law Of Moses
None Are Righteous
What Is Sin
Righteousness Of God
Free Gift From God
Gods Promise To Everyone
Where There Is No Law
Faith Like Abraham
Essence Of The New Covenant