Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’" (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
In the last post we explored a little bit of the righteousness which is by the law - absolute perfect obedience to God's law is what he requires for us to be righteous. We learnt (and t's pretty obvious) that no one can achieve this righteousness: We all sin.
This leaves us with a problem: How can we be righteous, how can we possibly please God? If we don't meet his mark which is perfection and that means that we deserve his just wrath (hell) then where's the hope?
The Righteousness that is by Faith
God has graciously and lovingly provided another way for us to be righteous. Instead of having to get our own way to heaven by being perfect he has provided his perfect son to do it for us. Jesus came to earth, he lived perfectly, he suffered and he died. He took our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and God's wrath for it (if we are Christians). Not only that, but he took all of God's wrath for his people and to prove that he had dealt with our sin entirely he rose again. The wages of sin is death, but death could not hold Jesus because he had paid the full price for sin.
That's the gospel: That's the centre of our faith. But how does that apply to us? How does someone become one of God's people? Through repentance and faith. We need to see our sin and repent of it - saying sorry to God for disobeying him. We also need to put our faith in Jesus - he alone can save and we need to trust that he is the only way. Fully rely on him to save us and not on our works anymore.
What does the passage say? 'If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.'
But wait a second, isn't that adding works to faith?
Nope. Our declaration of Jesus being Lord isn't what saves us, but it will always be a result of genuine faith in Christ and sorrow for sin. If we truly believe in Jesus, that he is the only way for us to be saved then we would be entirely selfish to not tell people. Selfishness is sinful and if we are truly sorry for sin we will be working hard to stop doing it. Therefore if you are a Christian you need to be obeying God and sharing the gospel. Not because that saves. Make sure you get that: Works don't save. But as a result of them.
For example. How do we know that medicine is medicine? We have to use it and it will heal us. It wouldn't be real medicine if it didn't help us of if it made us worse. Likewise if you are a true Christian your life will change. If you believe in your heart that Jesus died for us and rose from the death then you will obey him and declare with your mouth that he is Lord and saviour.
The two always fit together. Faith saves. Works result from that. The other way of righteousness tries to skip faith and rely solely on works. That doesn't help us because we are already guilty.
It's 100% Jesus and 0% us, and because of that we will work to live for him.