Sunday, January 18, 2015

Recognizing grace through the law



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"For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 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."  Romans 10: 5-9 (ESV)

The apostle Paul is actually making a simple analogy here.  First Paul points out that the Jews, who look for righteousness through obedience to the law, have the law written on their hearts (see Romans 2:15).  Paul does not mean that we will be righteous because we obey the law.  Paul means that through obedience to the law, God's love for us becomes written on our hearts.  For example, when we consciously try to be honest in all of our interactions, we will grow to have honesty ingrained in our hearts.  We will not be honest just so that others will praise our honesty, we will be honest because we want to please God.

Next, Paul compares righteousness through the law with righteousness based on faith.  Paul says that righteousness based on faith is similar to righteousness based on law that is written on our hearts.  When we trust God for our righteousness, we do not have to ascend to heaven and bring Christ down to us, nor do we have to descend to hell and bring Christ up to us.  We do not have to do anything.  Christ is in our mouth (in what we do) and in our hearts (what we believe). 

God's law has paved the way for grace.  When we know in our hearts what is righteous, we can then recognize the grace that justifies our lives in the eyes of God.