14
March
2017

ROMANS 10:5-8 RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW vs. RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH IN CHRIST

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Romans 10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them."  6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 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 which we preach):

RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW vs. RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH IN CHRIST (5-15)

Ro 10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them."

That is to say, Moses speaks of the righteousness which is of the law and defines what it is and he also speaks of the righteousness of faith. For the former Leviticus 18:5 is quoted and for the latter Deuteronomy 30:12, 14

If a Jew or anyone is to receive righteousness by keeping the demands of the Law, that would be human achievement; it would not be from God. However, a Jew or anyone would need to keep the entire Law perfectly all his life—an impossible task

Jas 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

But then Paul also quoted Moses in support of his righteousness-by-faith position centered in Christ as “the end of the Law” and the means by which righteousness is available for everyone who believes. It does not seem appropriate that Paul was merely borrowing Moses’ words and applying them to something foreign in Moses’ thought. This says that righteousness by faith is not a new concept, but had been proclaimed to Israel by Moses.

Paul quoted from the Old Testament to prove to his readers that they did not even understand their own Law. He began with Leviticus 18:5 which states the purpose of the Law: if you obey it, you live.

“But we did obey it!” they would argue.

Galatians 3:10 "For as many as are of the works of the law,” as many people as want to live by the works, as many people want to live by law, want to be self-savers, “are under the curse."  They are all accursed.  "For its written, cursed is everyone that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them."  So if you've ever not done something you ought to do, or ever done something you should not have done, you're out, you're cursed. 

               “You may have obeyed it outwardly,” Paul would reply, “but you did not believe it from your heart.” He then quoted Deuteronomy 30:12–14 and gave the passage a deeper spiritual meaning.

               The theme of Moses’ message was “the commandment” (Deut. 30:11), referring to the Word of God. Moses argued that the Jews had no reason to disobey the Word of God because it had been clearly explained to them and it was not far from them. In fact, Moses urged them to receive the Word in their hearts

When we think of the truth expressed in Deuteronomy 30:12–14, we can see the appropriateness of the use of this passage to show that the same principles over which the Jews stumbled are the principles which verify to the fullest extent the truth of the passage from which the apostle quotes.

De 5:29 'Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever

De 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.13:3

De 30:6 "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.). The emphasis in Deuteronomy is on the heart, the inner spiritual condition and not mere outward acts of obedience.

  1. Involves the mouth and the heart (6-8)

               Ro 10:6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 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 which we preach):

               The material in Deuteronomy was part of Moses’ charge to the generation of Israel about to enter the land of Canaan. This exhortation was the conclusion of Moses’ prophetic description of God’s dealing with Israel. Blessing was promised for faith and obedience, and chastisement would result from rejection and disobedience. If Israel forsook God, Moses said, she would face worldwide dispersion and affliction. When the people then finally do turn to God in faith, He will restore them to blessing, prosperity, and prominence among the nations (Deut. 30:1–10). The point of Moses’ exhortation (Deut. 30:11) is that the generation to whom he was speaking had the message (it was very near you and in your mouth, Deut. 30:14) and they could respond by faith (in your heart, Deut. 30:14) and walk with God in obedience. Since the Israelites in Moses’ day had the message, they did not need to ask that it be brought down from heaven or that someone “cross the sea to get it” (Deut. 30:13). Instead, the word (Moses’ instructions) was “near” them (Deut. 30:14).

De 30:10 "if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

The Jews were trying to do the impossible.  They were trying to ascend to heaven. That's what a works system does; save yourself, get up, and crawl up to heaven on your own.  Descend into the deep. 

               Those are two Jewish proverbs.  In fact, to be high and afar off was a Jewish way of saying something is unattainable.  Thou art high, it says of God, that art very high.  It says of the wicked, God sees them afar off, that is there's no way to reach them.  To the Jew to be high in the heavens or deep in the depths, to ascend to heaven, to go down to hell was to do what was impossible.  So he reaches back to Deuteronomy 30 and says Moses says that the righteousness of faith is not available just for those who can do the impossible.  It's available for anybody.  It's right there. 

               Paul assures us that the intent of this passage in Deuteronomy is a call to faith.  He even calls it in Romans 10:8 the word of faith.  It is a call to a heart response.  It is a call to faith.  It is the obedience of the heart that he is after, not just some external behavior.  A call to faith, a call to a true heart relationship to God in Deuteronomy, is based on the covenant of grace. Deuteronomy is not simply a call to legal externalism; it is a call to respond in faith to a covenant of grace.

De 9:4 "Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land'; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you. 5 "It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 "Therefore understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.

It is better, therefore, to take the statement as implying that the Jews are saying Jesus never came down from heaven and the preceding question as the taunt of unbelief. What Paul is insisting on is the accessibility, the nearness of revelation. That Christ came down from heaven and tabernacled among men is the most significant proof of this fact. We dare not say: who shall ascend to heaven to find the truth? For this question discounts the incarnation and is a denial of its meaning. In Christ, the truth came to earth.

Ro 10:7 or," 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

The other statement: “that is, to bring Christ up from the dead” (vs. 7) should be interpreted as a denial of the resurrection. The question: “who shall descend into the abyss?” echoes the same kind of unbelief as that of verse 6. It is to the effect: who shall go down to the abyss to find the truth? The abyss as representing that which is below is contrasted with heaven as that which is above. The question, as the language of unbelief, discounts the significance of Christ’s resurrection. The second phrase means that Jesus went to the realm of the dead and returned to life again. We do not need to go down to the abyss to find the truth any more than we need to ascend to heaven for the same purpose. For as Christ came from heaven to earth so also did he come again from the lower parts of the earth and revealed himself to men.

Eph 4:8 Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men." 9 (Now this, "He ascended" --what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

               1Pe 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

               In effect, Paul indicated that the same truth applied to his generation, with the added fact that Christ had come in the flesh (John 1:14) and had been resurrected. Therefore there was no need for anyone to ask to bring Christ down (in His Incarnation) or to bring Christ up from the dead; He had already come and had been resurrected. The message of righteousness by faith in Paul’s day was “near” his readers (available to them) and this was “the word” (rhēma, “saying”) of faith he was proclaiming (rhēma, “the spoken word” is also used in Eph. 5:26; 6:17; 1 Peter 1:25). Thus the gospel, “the word of faith,” is available and accessible

Isa 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek Me in vain'; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

Ro 10:8 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 preach):

Verse 8 is the affirmation of what is the burden of Deuteronomy 30:12–14 and is, with slight alteration, quotation of verse 14. Paul now specifies what this word is: it is “the word of faith, which we preach”. So the word of Deuteronomy 30:14 is applied directly to the message of the gospel as preached by the apostles. “

The word of faith” is the word to which faith is directed, not the word which faith utters. It is the word preached and therefore the message that brings the gospel into our mouth and heart.

Deut 30:10 Original Context if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 11 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'

               Paul gave us the spiritual understanding of this admonition. He saw “the commandment” or “the Word” as meaning “Christ, God’s Word.” So, he substituted “Christ” for “the commandment.” He told us that God’s way of salvation was not difficult and complicated. We do not have to go to heaven to find Christ, or into the world of the dead. He is near to us. In other words, the Gospel of Christ—the Word of faith—is available and accessible. The sinner need not perform difficult works in order to be saved. All he has to do is trust Christ. The very Word on the lips of the religious Jews was the Word of faith. The very Law that they read and recited pointed to Christ.

               God doesn't scorn the lost soul by mocking him with an offering of salvation that is utterly unattainable and expecting him to go on an impossible quest.