I seem to be doing a lot of these multi-part posts. In case you’re wondering why I don’t just put it all in one post, I translate all these posts into Japanese, and it’s intimidating enough to translate a 500-600 word post. Trying to do a 1000-2000 word post is more than I want to tackle. Plus I figure shorter posts are easier for people to read.
Anyway, Paul gives two other reasons here why Christ is the only way to God. Again, he’s talking about the Jews in this passage, but what he says can be applied to just about any religious person in the world.
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. (1-2)
Here Paul makes a very important point. Many Jews and other religious people are very zealous for God. That’s a good thing. But zeal without knowledge is not. And again, these people are pursuing God in total ignorance of what he really wants. Faith.
More, Paul says,
Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (3)
That’s the second problem with many religious people. Because they didn’t know true righteousness, they established their own. They made their own definitions of what is right and wrong. They made their own definitions of what is acceptable to God and not.
And because they are following their own definition of righteousness, when they encounter true righteousness, the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, they fail to submit to it. Rather they keep going along the path they themselves (or those who came before them) have established.
But you cannot expect to go your own way, establishing your own standards in direct contradiction to God’s, and expect him to be pleased with you, no matter how zealous you are.
The truth of the matter is, even if God were to allow you to live by the standards you yourself have established, you would fail even by those standards. For as Paul said,
Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” (5)
How many people keep their own rules perfectly? None. And yet people still try to reach God through their own rules.
So when people set up their own rules, their own religion, they fail on two counts. One, their standards are not God’s. Second, they can’t keep their own rules.
And yet they expect God to accept them? Particularly when the thing God asks for most is that they trust him, and they refuse to do even that?
So Paul says,
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (4)
In short, let’s put aside our standards of righteousness and our religion. They’ll get us nowhere with God. Instead let us to turn to Christ, “our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (I Corinthians 1:30).
More on this next time.