In our journey through the book of Romans, we now find ourselves in chapter 10. Paul is continuing to explain the place of Israel in God’s plan. However, a lot of what he says can be applied to us. He’s speaking out against self-righteousness.
He starts chapter 10 with a brief summary of what he’s been saying.
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.
Here we get a look into Paul’s heart for Israel. Paul’s greatest prayer is for Israel’s salvation. That’s an important statement. The assumption is that they’re not saved. They have no spiritual exemption simply because they’re the physical seed of Abraham.
We need to take that to heart. Our children are not saved simply because they grew up in church. There are some who call themselves “Christian” merely due to the fact that they attended Sunday School throughout their childhood.
That’s not enough. Every individual has to choose to serve Jesus Christ for themselves. I’m a prime example.
I grew up in a Christian home. I was a third generation Italian Pentecostal. From my earliest recollection, I never missed church on a Sunday. My parents even took us to church when we were on vacation!
I knew all the Bible stories. I memorized all the verses I was given. I never rebelled against church. But, that wasn’t enough – I was still not saved.
There came a day when I had to make the decision for myself to serve Jesus Christ. In July of 1966 I was sent to a Christian summer camp. It was called Camp Woodhaven in West Boylston, Massachusetts.
They would have a service every night and a prayer meeting directly after it. We were in the boy’s bunkhouse. I was kneeling next to my bed. My counselor came over to me and asked if I had ever made Jesus the Lord of my life.
He then explained to me God’s plan for salvation. He tailored it to my level. That’s when I said “Yes” to Jesus Christ and my counselor led me in a prayer that forever changed my life.
Even before that day, I was zealous for God. But, as Paul says in the above verse, zeal for God is not enough. I had to know and agree to God’s plan for my life.
That’s also how it is for the Jewish people. They need to recognize and follow God’s truth. What is it that they need to recognize?
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. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
They needed to come to an understanding of God’s righteousness. It’s a righteousness that’s by faith in Him. They zealously sought to stand in their own righteousness. While at the same time refusing to put themselves under God’s righteousness.
Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking. The second verse literally says that Christ is the end of the line for the law. The law stops with Christ – He’s the focal point of everything in the Old Testament.
Think of it as a train ride. All who believe get off at this station. The station is righteousness by faith in the finished work of Christ. But, there are some who refuse to leave the train. Among them are the Jews, and some who call themselves Christians.
That’s why we need to constantly be on guard against self-righteous legalism in our lives. It can destroy our walk with God. We need to be aware of God’s work in us – the only way to true righteousness.
Question: How did you choose to follow Christ?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi