Will You Submit to God's Righteousness or Not?
Thinking about Romans 10:2-4.
For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:2-4)
In Romans 10:1, Paul expressed his heart’s desire and prayer - the salvation of his fellow countrymen, the Israelites.
While he desired their salvation, he also knew why many of them remained lost.
They Did Not Submit to God’s Righteousness.
Paul acknowledged that the Jewish people had an undeniable zeal for God, yet that zeal was not according to knowledge. Their zeal was “not in line with the truth” (NET Bible).
In what way was their zeal not according to knowledge?
By being ignorant of God’s righteousness and trying to establish their own righteousness, they refused to submit to God’s righteousness.
God’s righteousness is revealed to all people in the gospel of Christ.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." (Romans 1:16-17)
The truth of the matter was that no one - Jew or Gentile - was righteous in and of themselves (Romans 3:9-10) because all had sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
The Revealing of God’s Righteousness.
God’s righteousness is revealed in the justification graciously offered through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)
But what the Jews tried to do was “establish their own righteousness.” They refused to admit that they, too, needed the mercy and grace of God the same as the Gentiles.
They stumbled at Old Testament teaching of justification by faith. They stumbled at a God who asked for trust rather than sinlessness or earning. They stumbled at that God when he manifested himself in the flesh and offered them a righteousness which was to be received by faith. As a result of all that, they were lost and unblessed! - McGuiggan, Romans, 296-297
The way all “become the righteousness of God” is only through the sinless one who was sacrificed in our place for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:21-24). The Jews did not submit to God’s righteousness and, therefore, remained unrighteous.
The Jews, Paul’s countrymen who refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah, had not only missed the true path to righteousness, but they had also, in the process, missed the true intent of the Law [Galatians 3:24-25]. - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 356
There is a question for us all to consider from this passage.
Will we attempt to save ourselves by trying to “establish our own righteousness,” or will we submit to the righteousness of God offered only in His Son?
Outside of Christ, trying to establish your own righteousness is pointless - because sinners cannot get rid of what they had rightfully earned (Romans 6:23a). Once a person has sinned, they are sin’s captive (John 8:34-36), and no amount of good deeds can free them from their captor.
Only through Jesus Christ are we set free from sin and given God’s gracious gift of eternal life (Romans 6:3-7; 6:23b).