Righteousness in Christ Jesus
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
Let’s quickly look at the book of Romans. The conclusion of Romans chapter 1 and Romans chapter 2 is found in Romans 2:12
Paul believes that from history no man was righteous before God, both Jews and gentiles. Paul believes that no one was free from sin. He first dealt with the gentiles in Romans 1 and then the Jews in Romans 2.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Even if they (the gentiles) were never given a law, the creation of God testifies of the existence of God. By examining the things that God created, you will know that there exists a creator. Even if God did not reveal himself to the gentiles as he did to the Israelites, even if he didn’t reveal himself and give them his name, by observing the things that he created, they can know of his eternal power and divine nature and they choose to reverence him. But nobody in all the gentile nations did.
What does he then say about the Jews:
Romans 2:17,21 (paraphrase)
You are a Jew, you know the law and yet you disobey the law.
In chapter 3, he gives his conclusion. In Romans 1, he focuses on the gentiles to show them that without the law they were still guilty. In Romans 2, he focuses on the Jews to show them that even with the law they still went on with their sin and so they’re not different from the gentiles. Romans 3 gives the conclusion.
What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge (chapter 1 and 2) that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
It is an established fact that none of the Jews and none of the gentiles were deemed righteous by their works.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. 10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
The first law says “obey my law and you will be righteous”, the second covenant says “I will be merciful to your unrighteousness.”
There are two promises of the second and the final covenant
- Righteousness is received as a gift under the new covenant
- Performance is no longer a prerequisite but a result of righteousness.
A lot of people think that in the grace message, performance is no longer important. But that is wrong! Performance is now a product of righteousness. Read Heb 8:10-12. He can do it! He can work in you! He can change your desires and make them God ward and you’ll flow effortlessly doing his will not because you’re disciplined but because his spirit is at work in you. This is the message of grace, it is a message of trust, not perform and take the credit for righteousness. No! Trust God and his Spirit to help you perform. You have been accepted in the beloved freely and you have received the Holy Spirit who effortlessly helps you to be fruitful in your work with God. That’s the grace message!
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
This is who you are. This is who we are. He has made us a people zealous after good works. He has put his laws in our minds and in our hearts.