Romans 9:30­-33

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 10, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written: 'See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.'” (Romans 9:30-33)

In this passage, Paul is making another shift in his argument here. In the previous section, Paul discussed God’s sovereignty, which is how He rules over everything. You can read about that here. Now, he shifts to the beliefs of the people, both Jews and Gentiles.

In the next few passages we’ll look at, we’ll see three contrasts of righteousness. The first one occurs here in verses 30-31, and it’s a contrast between “righteousness that is by faith” and “a law of righteousness.” Righteousness that is by faith requires faith and belief in Jesus as your savior; a law of righteousness requires your actions to perfectly complete God’s law, every second of every day of your life. Which sounds easier to you?

The people of Israel still didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the savior of the world, so they were still focused on the law. They were much more concerned about what they should and shouldn’t do based on the law God had given them, rather than having a relationship of faith with their God. The Jews didn’t see the big change in salvation history that took place when Jesus died and was raised again. Being human, they weren’t able to fully and perfectly complete God’s law, which is the only way to salvation other than through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Gentiles, which includes everyone who is not a Jew, were much more accepting of righteousness by faith. They didn’t have God’s law given to them, so they didn’t even know what it was, much less being able to follow it.

So what does all this mean for us today? Many people still try to make following Jesus Christ into a set of rules - do this, don’t do that. While it is beneficial to follow God’s laws as best as we can, that isn’t the point. The point of following Jesus Christ is to know Him and be in relationship with Him, not just to do what you’re supposed to and not do what you’re not supposed to. If you are being led by the Holy Spirit, your actions will reflect that. Yes, we’ll all still mess up, but don’t get so focused on the do’s and don’ts (like the people of Israel did) that you miss out on the relationship you can have with Jesus.

How are you doing in your walk of faith? Are you relying on your actions to be “good enough,” or are you focusing on having a relationship with Jesus, so you’ll have a righteousness that is by faith?

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