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806 Rom.9.30 - 10.4 Righteousness to Everyone Who Believes

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Intro

There is a movie called US Marshalls & Wesley Snipes is the actor who gets falsely accused of a crime that he didn't commit. The movie is about a US Marshall who is determined to track him down no matter what the cost. In the end, the Marshall starts to figure it out that Snipes is innocent. The bad guys who framed him get captured or killed and Snipes is proven to be innocent. At the end of the film, after the court hearing, a reporter interviews Snipes outside on the steps of the courthouse and asks him how he now feels. His reply said it all: He says, “righteous, very righteous”
- After all he had been through, it felt so good to be vindicated of any wrongdoing
- v.33 in our passage today, speaks somewhat to this feeling of being vindicated
Romans 9:33 NASB95
just as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
- One horrible aspect of life is to live with shame
- When we say & do wrong things, eventually, we have terrible regret & wish we could take those things, we regret, back
- The corollary to this is shame – we feel ashamed
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- There are a few different ways that people have devised to compensate for this sense of shame
- The first way is denial – some people have managed to lie to themselves for so long, that they truly believe against evidence & against the truth, that they are innocent
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- The second way is deflection – some people, instead of denying the obvious. deflect blame on to someone else instead
- This is becoming more & more of a reality in today's world
- Serena Williams behaved appallingly in the US tennis final, yet, she justified her bad behaviour based on her take on the referee being racist & sexist
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- The third way is what I'll call scaling – some people way up their behaviour on a set of scales
- To alleviate the shame, some people throw themselves into “holy” work in an attempt to outweigh the shame they feel
- The end result is that the good feeling of doing good will counterbalance the bad feeling of shame
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- There is another way of avoiding the truth & we find it in this passage
- Instead of accepting the right ways of God, which is faith in our Lord & Saviour Jesus, Israel had settled on another way
- Israel's reliance on the works of the Law was their way of claiming God for themselves & keeping the Gentiles out
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- The law & circumcision became a fence – let's call this fence, Jewish righteousness
- This fence of “Jewish righteousness” was a fence, Paul implies, that was NOT erected by God
- In constructing a “fence” of the law, they were attempting to keep God within their boundaries
- It became their, not God's, way of staying right with God
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- This message is about the true righteousness of God & this rightness of God has always been there, but was missed big time, by the Israelites
- The right ways of God are, in fact, revealed in Jesus Christ, not the law

1. Losing Sight of Where God's Righteousness Lies (vs. 30-33)

Q. What is God's righteousness?
- It all seems very technical, but let us try to break it down to the nuts & bolts
- Righteousness contains the word “RIGHT”
- It has a range of meanings depending on where you use it
- But we get an inkling of it when we consider the word “righteous”
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Q. Who is the “righteous” person?
- The person who does the right thing – correct!
- But the right thing can mean different things to different people
- Israel certainly thought that they were on to the “right thing” when it came to abiding in the law
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- When it comes to politics, the “right thing” for conservatives & the “right thing” for liberal-minded people, actually, can be polls apart
- One lot believe in open borders, the other believe in tightly monitored borders
- So where & when is the “right thing” the “right thing”
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- When Paul speaks about God's righteousness, he is speaking about the “right ways” or “rightness” of God
- This can be quite at odds with a man's understanding of “rightness”
- A typical illustration of this right ways of God as opposed to the so-called “right ways” of man is in Isaiah 55
Isaiah 55:5–9 NASB95
5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” 6 Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
- For a man or woman to return to the Lord or repent unto the Lord, they need to change their ways & their thoughts
- If you seek a pardon from the Lord, you can receive it as you are, but you cannot stay as you are
- Staying as you are, is the reason you need pardoning in the first place
- To be in a relationship with God means that that person ought to adopt His ways & His thoughts
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- The righteousness of God, however, must be understood relationally
- It is not just doing the right thing for when righteousness involves God, it means being in a right relationship with Him
- Doing the right thing is good, but that means little if a person isn't in a right relationship with God
- Now the rightness of God – the way He accepts people – is shown in Jesus & His Gospel
- The right ways of God or His righteousness is through faith
- It has always been through faith
- Going way back before the law came, the Scripture says that Abraham's faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness”
Hebrews 11:6 NASB95
6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- Israel, like many people today, seek to determine the basis in which they will be acceptable to almighty God
- There are reasons people do this – I mentioned some in the introduction – denial, deflection, scaling
- But THE one critical error in it all, is the reversal of Lordship
- It is determining for oneself what is & what can be, acceptance with God
- But God decides what makes a person acceptable to Himself, not man
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- Paul says here that the Gentiles who did not pursue a right relationship with God, found it, by faith in Jesus Christ – that is the acceptable way to God
- But Israel pursued its own home-grown righteousness & determined that God would be confined by this kind of righteousness
- Not that they thought they were doing that
- But in using the law as a tool of a home-grown righteousness, they have cut themselves off from God
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- We saw an example of that last week from Isaiah, in how Israel lent on multiple sacrifices, Sabbaths & elaborate festivals – all according to law – but in order to have God come to their aid
- But God's take on them is that their heart was far from Him
- It was empty ritual, devoid of truth in the heart, devoid of genuine love & faith to God
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Q. How do we know this is the case?
- Because the well to do were ripping off the most needy people
- There is nothing wrong with making a profit, but making a big profit from destitute people is wrong in the eyes of the Lord – that part of the law, they simply ignored
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- They were buying up widow's houses & fields for a song & making themselves very rich on the backs of these less fortunate then themselves
Isaiah 5:7–8 NASB95
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress. 8 Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, Until there is no more room, So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!
- This was the lot of the widows who had no husband to provide for her & her children & she was then forced into a quick sale of her property, which meant cheap sale – they took advantage of her plight
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- In rejecting Jesus, Paul says that Israel stumbled over the stumbling stone
Isaiah 28:14–16 NASB95
14 Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.” 16 Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
- In other words, you have made falsehood your security & not Me, says the Lord
- But I am going to erect in Zion a precious cornerstone – a majestic & sure foundation stone that will last & endure
- He who looks to this, will not be disturbed – or the OT Greek LXX that Paul quotes from has “will not be put to shame”
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- We don't live in a world that regards shame as big thing anymore – yet shame used to be something to avoid at all costs
- People hate living with shame, but we have so many psychologists that, instead of dealing with the shame through repentance & restoration, tell us that “shame” is a false construct of an outdated Christian society – I'm exaggerating here (but this is Freudian psychology)
- But shame is real & it can be effectively dealt with through Jesus Christ
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- We have people dumping shame upon us for believing in Jesus
- They like to think that we are duped by religious superstition & outdated unscientific beliefs
- Israel, in the flesh, believed that Jesus was one of many false Messiahs
- They poured scorn on the notion that Gentiles can be God's people without having to become Jews
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- Yet, He or whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame
- I like the word “vindication” & if any of you have been falsely accused & shown to be innocent, you will know how wonderful it is to be vindicated – that is, shown to be in the right
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- This is precisely the truth for those who believe in Jesus Christ
- You may be ridiculed now for your faith, but your day of vindication is coming – where you will feel “righteous, very righteous”
- Your faith will have shown to have not been misplaced, but perfectly placed
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- The apostle Peter is very bold about Israel stumbling over Christ
1 Peter 2:8–10 NASB95
8 and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

2. Righteousness for All

- So the bulk of Israel is lost & it breaks the apostle's heart
- In chp 10:1 he says that they have a zeal, but not in accordance with knowledge
- Paul was once like this
Philippians 3:6 NASB95
6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
- He was so zealous that he had the godly Christian, Stephen, killed
- In his zeal, he eliminated everyone would did not agree with Judaism
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- But this ought to be a lesson to us
- Knowledge is not to be despised
- It is through true knowledge that you can identify the false & turn from it
- Enthusiasm is no substitute for knowledge
- Enthusiasm in the law showed that Israel lost their way & the reason is that they substituted knowledge for enthusiasm
- Commitment, in itself, will not make you right with God
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- Some people are happy with the limited knowledge they gain from someone who tells them what they want to hear – this again is a dangerous thing because it limits knowledge
- When you have your pet authors or preachers who reinforce what you want to hear or what you have always been used to hearing, it is the same as not knowing
Proverbs 18:17 NASB95
17 The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.
- We should listen to those who we don't necessarily agree with
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- I find this statement fascinating - “not knowing about God's righteousness & seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God”
- Being in a right relationship with God is determined by God & He has made this plain from the very beginning
- The seed of Abraham has come – His name is Jesus & Jesus has been the plan of God from the beginning so that men & women can live in a right relationship with God
- This is the righteousness of God
Philippians 3:9 NASB95
9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
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- This, then, leads us to the question of the Law
Romans 10:4 NASB95
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Q. Does this mean that the law has ended?
- The easy answer that will be of no help to you is “yes” & “no”
- The important thing to remember about the law is that that law was designed for a theocratic community
- For those who don't know what theocratic means, it means a nation under God – theos = God; krateo = rule (the rule of God)
- It's a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God
- Nations that are like this are Iran, Saudi Arabia & the Vatican City
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- The law of God, therefore, included moral, civil & ceremonial laws
- Therefore, the status of being Jew is defined by works of the law – sacrificial offerings, temple services & worship, festivals & feasts, circumcision, Sabbath days & the like
- These were Jewish distinctives which, in their mind, separated & marked them out for salvation against the Gentiles who were, in the words of some Jewish writers, created to be fuel for the flames of Gehenna (hell)
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- The law was an all-encompassing system of living for Israel & you could not pick & choose what parts of the law you would keep & what parts you could ignore
- The law was a package & it came with a word for every part of life
- The law as a “system of living” is finished – “Christ is the end of the law”, says Paul, for “righteousness to everyone who believes”
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- Something inside us doesn't know how to feel about that since we agree with many parts of the law
- The issue, I suggest, is to come to terms with the law relation to the OT
- The “law-as-a-system” has ended – ended with the OT era
- Christ has come & He has fulfilled the law
- Jesus is here talking about the moral standards of the Law
- Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes & Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom
- Well, we know the criticism that Jesus levelled at these men
- They were hypocrites & the law was just a front for their phoney righteousness
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- So the rule of law has ended, but the moral precepts of the law are still the good will of God, are they not?
- So I'm not saying that the law is useless & no good
2 Timothy 3:16–17 NASB95
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
- All Scripture includes the law of Moses
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- Furthermore, the apostle talks about love as being the fulfilment of the law
Romans 13:8–10 NASB95
8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
- So there are aspects of the law that instruct us on what love is all about
- We do not ignore these laws, but we need to understand that we are not under the system of law or rule of law
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- We are under Christ & being under Christ takes us further into love than the law could ever have hoped to achieve in God's people
- The law is just words written on a piece of papyri paper & the law had no power to help anyone to observe it
- But Christ's love is written on our hearts & through faith & the Holy Spirit we know a right standing with God & a right relationship with God

Summary

- The righteousness of God is not confined to the Jews, but is available now to everyone who believes in Christ
- Jewish history was directed towards Christ & most Jews missed Him
- In creating their own system – Law as opposed to faith – they rejected God's way
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- You don't need to become a Jew & adopt the law of God in order to be saved
- What you need to do is believe in Jesus
- Jesus is the righteous ways of God revealed & He is the only means of a person being & staying in a right relationship with God
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