We’re continuing our look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s showing the differences between a law of righteousness, and that which comes by faith.
Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”
When it comes to trying to live righteously by keeping the law, the Bible is very clear. The person who does these things will live in them. It’s all about living in the law. James told us that if you keep it all, and miss it on one point, you’ve blown the whole thing (James 2:10).
How does the righteousness by faith describe itself?
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 word of faith we are proclaiming…
Paul starts with what this righteousness doesn’t say. You really need to understand the Greek to get the full scope of what’s being said here.
The first thing we see is that true righteousness is a matter of the heart. What’s your heart saying? There are two parts. Your heart either wants to bring Christ down, or bring Christ up. What does that mean?
Actually, the two Greek words used for bring down and bring up are technical sailing terms. Bring down literally means to moor a ship in the harbor. Bring up means to launch a ship on its voyage.
The bottom line – It’s all about who’s in control. Too often believers act like they’re in control of the Lord. They tell Him to come or go according to their good pleasure. That’s not the God I serve.
Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Yes, He calls me His friend. But that doesn’t negate the fact that this is still His universe, His plan, His agenda, and His church. I’m the one who needs to get in line with what the Lord desires.
Too often we try to put God into our own little box. We think we have Him all figured out. We know what the Lord should and shouldn’t do. We know who Christ should love, and who He should pour out judgment on.
When we live like that, we’re headed toward frustration. God breaks out of the box every time. Then, we end up looking foolish.
Instead, Paul talks about what true righteousness actually says. This is what the verse says if you take out all of the “don’ts”.
But the righteousness that is by faith says: “…The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…
“It” is the righteousness by faith. Scripture makes it clear that the rhema word is near you – in your heart and in your mouth. He also calls it the rhema of faith. Remember that rhema speaks of the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.
We know that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. That’s why we must spend quality time with God – praying in the spirit.
As I do that, He puts His rhema in my heart, and then it overflows from my mouth at the right time. The modern church has yet to learn to use this powerful weapon. The early church used it to turn the world upside down.
The rhema of God is a necessity. We can’t fulfill God’s plan without it.
Question: How has God’s rhema Word changed your life?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi