Romans 10:1-9 - The Easy Way or the Impossible Way, Your Choice
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1Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. - Romans 10:1


Why is Paul praying for Israel for their salvation? What is the point of praying if the hardening here is permanent regardless if it's an individual or a corporate hardening? (For details on this see our studies on Romans 9.) I mean if it's something that God decided before the foundation of the world, why is Paul praying contrary to what God wants? Or is it that maybe this judicial hardening isn't permanent and Paul's kinsmen still have a chance? (Rom. 11:11, 23). We should pray for those that seem hardened as is Paul's example and not fall for the lie that our prayers are in vain and not effective.


For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. - Romans 10:2


Paul acknowledges these Israelites, his kinsmen, have a genuine zeal for God. In otherwords, they have a genuine desire to please God, to be right with God. But... it's not in accordance with knowledge. Like Paul wrote at the end of Romans 9, they are pursuing it by works of the law and not by faith. Unfortunately, though they may want to please God and have a genuine zeal to do so, it's not in accordance with faith and without faith it's impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). God doesn't save anyone because they're passionate or zealous, I would argue that if they are truly zealous they would learn the law properly and if learned properly, it's meant to be a tutor to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24). This may be an example of what Paul meant in Romans 9:16 when he states it doesn't depend on the man who wills...


"Not in accordance with knowledge" their theology was wrong, specifically their theology surrounding salvation and how they get saved. This can not only be applied to Jews, but mormons, Jehovah witnesses, Catholics, Muslims, and other world religions that are works based.


For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. - Romans 10:3


Legalism defined in one verse. Not knowing about God's righteousness, meaning they didn't understand that God is perfect (Matt. 5:48) and that God is holy [1 Pet. 1:16), and to the highest standard God is is what is required of them to be right before Him. Anything less can not be in the presence of God. If we seek to establish our own righteousness we are deceived into thinking we can obtain it through our efforts as if God somehow was reduced to our standards. Sometimes the best thing that can happen to someone struggling with legalism is not for them to avoid the law or become less strict about it, but to dive into it further and become more strict, to realize the full extent of what is required of them, let them try harder and harder, until one day they finally come to the end of themselves and realize they just can't. It is only then the law serves it's highest purpose, that is, to tutor someone to Christ (Gal. 3:24).


Question: What would a gentile think who may be observing these zealous Jews in their pursuit of righteousness by way of the law?


Answer: We may be pretty impressed huh? Many people would be. What did Jesus say to those who were acquainted with these Jews pursuit of righteousness?


20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:20


This would have been disturbing for everyone who heard Him. Gentiles would ask "then who can be saved?" (Matt. 19:25, Luke 18:26). and Jews would be frustrated because they may have had confidence that that which they were seeking by way of the law they were also obtaining, but Jesus here is telling them that is not so. Sometimes the best thing a legalist needs to hear is "you need to try harder" not to the extent they will eventually arrive by their own doing, but that they may arrive at the realization they can't by their own doing. This was the wisdom and insight given to the Rich Young Ruler (and observing disciples) being spoken of in Matthew 19:16-26.


To seek to establish your own righteousness (keep in mind righteousness means right standing with God) is to say your goodness is as good as God's. It's to say that by your own doing you have made yourself as good as God is and therefore worthy to bask in the presence of God. Or, and what is equally as bad is, it's bringing God down to your level. It's making God out to be as good as you. If you think the righteousness that you work for as obtained that righteousness then it's one or the other. Psalms 50:21 God states to the wicked "...You thought that I was just like you...".


And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” - Luke 18:9-14


Two choices when it comes to righteousness before God. You can be deceived like the Pharisee who thought he was doing good or you can beat your chest like the Tax Collector who pleaded for mercy (whom left justified by God). You can trust in yourself or trust in God.


For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. - Romans 10:4


"Christ is the end of the law for righteousness", in other words, Christ is the attaining of righteousness of the law to those who believe. Christ is the finish line in the race for righteousness and those in Christ enjoy His accomplishments on their behalf. This truly is good news!


Can you imagine this. Jews who were zealous for God, trying so hard to be righteous before Him, working day and night, trying to control every action, every thought burdened with the ought and ought nots. Working so diligently, so much sacrificed, so much sweat and tears, running the race so painstakingly, only to look over and see a Gentile celebrating on the other side of the finish line? Resting as one who obtained the righteousness which you've worked so hard for, even a righteousness they weren't seeking (Rom. 9:30)? Something you've pressed on for they received as a free gift? How would that make you feel? Well, if you were a Gentile, pretty good huh? But as a Jew it may make you envious, jealous, unless though, unless you take an honest look at what is required of you. For one who takes an honest look realizes righteousness is not obtainable through the law, if that were the case, then Christ died needlessly (Gal. 2:21).


This is the deception of the Legalist, namely, that man is able through his own merit to reach the finish line in the race for righteousness. Now if such a man believes that he can obtain it by his own merit, he would indeed be envious of those who received it without working for it. But if the same man who truly wants righteousness so bad but in taking an honest look at the law and the requirements of God correctly, and as it was intended (Gal. 3:24), realizes he's never going to reach the finish line by his own doing, the gospel of Christ bringing us to the finish line and therefore truly righteous before God wouldn't be a stumbling block but rather it indeed would be good news!


The Legalist either fails to take a rightful look at what God requires, understanding it's great and self-unobtainable commands, or fails to take a rightful look at himself and his measuring up to what the law requires.


For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. - Romans 10:5


Moses made it clear that all of the commands are required (Lev. 18:5), and one who practices righteousness based on the law is required not to merely practice it, but is to live by it in it's entirety (Gal. 5:3) and without fail (Jam. 2:10). Now this isn't to say that observing the law and commands of God is bad, but rather to recognize the obtaining of righteousness will not be found by works of the law. If you want to obey God's command out of love, because it glorifies God, because it spreads the gospel, then great! But you are no longer under obligation of these things in order to obtain righteousness before God so when you want to do these good things, know you are free from being obligated too. That righteousness is accomplished in Christ and you keeping or not keeping the commands will not sway that, ever. For if our righteousness was not obtained by works but rather by what Christ has done for us, then we should equally be confident that we will not lose it by works, because this doesn't diminish what Christ has done for us. Our failing to keep God's commands doesn't constitute that Christ failed to live a perfect and righteous life on our behalf. Our failing to obtain righteousness in our flesh does not mean Christ fails in being righteous and bestowing that on us FREELY (Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:8). Somehow we get focused on the waves and begin sinking and assume that Christ is sinking too. Keep your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2) and His successful obtaining of righteousness, understand He imputes that to you freely 2 Cor. 5:21), and you'll have confidence in your salvation.


But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “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 which we are preaching, - Romans 10:6-8


This section is better understood only after you understand what is meant by the original scriptures Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 30:12-14. This is a hope-filled statement. In Deuteronomy God promised restoration to Israel if they would turn to Him and then stated He would bless them with all these blessings based on this condition. Then in the verses Paul is referencing here God made it known to them that they need not go to heaven in order to find out from God these requirements, nor is there a need to traverse great seas as if it's a far off knowledge they must seek at great lengths. But rather God brought it to them direct, so direct that it's within their reach and in their heart, that it is "very near" (Deut 30:14, Rom. 10:8). Though Deuteronomy was referencing the giving of the law, Paul doesn't misquote it here as if he were claiming the original verses were about the Messiah but rather shows them it's in like fashion that God has brought to them Messiah. In the same way God brought the law to the Israelites God has also brought the Messiah. Like Paul did when referencing Pharaoh in the last chapter Paul is doing again here, namely showing them that if God did this with one thing then can they not also see that He may work the same way again in other thing. Paul is meeting them according to their thinking, but then applying it anew. We don't have to climb to heaven to be righteous but rather Christ came down and brought His righteousness and therefore it's not a task to difficult but one that is very near and obtainable. "Behold I stand at the door and knock..." (Rev 3:20) and because it has been brought to us, we are without excuse (Rom. 1:20).


that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; - Romans 10:9


The gospel is very complex and yet very simple. This verse above is often quoted explaining to others how easy it is to be saved, and rightfully so. We just spent Romans 9 and now part of 10 learning from Paul who is walking us through the old Testament in depth and diving into theology so the "thinkers" or those looking on with scrutiny (such as his fellow Jews) can see this is indeed true, but for those not looking on with scrutiny, can hear the very simple message of the gospel and rejoice in the simplicity yet profoundness of it! Is it this easy to be saved? Yes. When a person believes they free God, like the prodigal son, to bless them even when they don't fully understand how it all works as also attested to by the story of the prodigal (Luke 15:20-21). As Gentiles we often overlook the complexity involving Israel and this long standing plan of God but we get the simplicity of what Paul states here in verse 9, and that's just fine! If that's all you have, that's all you need, and I would encourage you to keep sharing it with others! For the believer who loves to dive, the complexity is there, for those who love a straight forward answer, the simplicity is there! God is so good.


To my fellow complex thinkers, don't let your complex thinking rob you from enjoying the simplicity of the gospel, it really is that easy! For my fellow simpletons, don't, in your simple way of thinking, conclude that the gospel is not amazingly profound and therefore rob you of enjoying the depth of God's plan of salvation.


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