Open Bible

The Righteousness of Faith

“For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:5-10)

Seeking to establish their own righteousness, the Apostle Paul has masterfully made both the nature and causes of the Jews’ unbelief clear, as they are ignorant of God’s righteousness in Christ (v. 3). Having sought such self established righteousness, they didn’t submit to the righteousness of God, Paul said. They were blind to the Gospel truth of the person and work of Christ, as well as what one therefore must do to be saved. There is great difference between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. Paul lays that out in this passage, as he refers to the teaching of Moses himself.

In v. 5, Paul quotes Moses in Leviticus 18:5, where Moses says, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” In doing so, Paul isn’t saying Moses taught a works salvation in this verse. Rather, he recognized that Leviticus 18:5 was set in the context of God’s redemptive grace requiring a person’s obedience. 

Further, Paul also quotes portions of Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 30:12-14. Moses says there, “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ (v. 13) Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ (v. 14) But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”

Why does Paul quote these words of Moses, referring to them as the words of the righteousness of faith? Because Moses declares the glorious Gospel message that God’s salvation isn’t achieved by man’s effort, but it comes by God’s grace bringing it near His people. See this in what Paul presses in Romans 10:6-8 regarding what the righteousness of faith both doesn’t say and what it truly says. Indeed, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the word of faith that is preached to you, is near to you. Beloved, praise the Lord for His bringing it near to you! 

Notice how Paul says it is “in your mouth and heart.” Consider this coupled with the parallelism he gives in vv. 9-10. Here, we are blessed to grow in knowing the connection between belief in the heart and confession out of our mouths. Believing and confessing must go together! We are justified by faith alone in Christ. We believe the truth regarding the person and work of Christ proclaimed in the Gospel. When one trusts in Christ by faith for salvation, he or she receives the imputed righteousness of Christ. Scripture wonderfully teaches us that believers are clothed in His righteousness. 

Thinking about this, may we rejoice with Isaiah and be joyful in our God! “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

Further, know that our confession is the fruit of faith in our hearts. We should be mindful that genuine faith always reflects itself in our actions and mouth-confession, though imperfectly. If our faith never shows itself in our speech and life, then it is not a real faith (James 2:26). Therefore, Paul said with clarity, and we believe with assurance- “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).”

Beloved, be filled with zeal and comfort in confessing Christ today, knowing and walking in the light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.”