Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
What is righteousness? It is a Bible word and it is a most important word. So important that without it you and I will not make it to heaven. Are you righteous? Do you understand what righteousness is? Do you want to be righteous? Before you answer these questions you should be very cautious and sure of what your answer is. Righteousness is very easy to come by, but very few have it. Now that may sound strange to you, but let us allow the Word of God to instruct us.
In the above verses we notice the Apostle Paul stated while writing to the believers in the church at Rome, that by the deeds of the Law, no flesh will be justified. What did he mean by that? The Jews had been living by the Mosaic Law for fourteen hundred years until the time of the death of Jesus Christ. But, living by the Mosaic Law did not make the Jews right with God. Most of them thought that it did, but the scriptures said it did not. What happened was, the Law had been reduced down to ceremonials and rituals, rather than observing them by faith as required. Religious acts do not make for being spiritual.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16
See how clearly the scriptures reveal that by doing something like living by a Law, or to put it another way, by rules and regulations, does not make one righteous? It made the Jews self-righteous, and that indeed, God hated. Anyone who is trying to please God through a religion, or their good works (deeds), is badly deceived. God's righteousness was revealed in the Laws and the Prophets long before Christ ever came. It is sad that so many of the Jews failed to recognize how to be a righteous person.
Righteousness when it is boiled down to the lowest denominator, is not so much something one does. True righteousness is a person, and it is the person of Jesus Christ. He is the righteousness of God. For someone to be righteous they must be as righteous as Jesus Christ. How is that possible? How can I be as right with God as the Lord Jesus Christ is? Before we answer that question let's discuss why the Jews were given the Law in the first place.
The Apostle Paul said, that the law was a school master to bring the Jews to Christ, their Messiah. Albert Barnes in his commentary states in the following four points that,
It restrains us and rebukes us, and keeps us as the ancient school master (usually a slave) did his boys.
The whole Law was designed to be introductory to Christ. The sacrifices and offerings were designed to shadow forth the Messiah, and to introduce Him to the world.
The moral Law "the Law of God" shows men their sin and danger, and thus leads them to the Savior. It condemns them, and thus prepares them to welcome the offer of pardon through a Redeemer.
It still does this. The whole economy of the Jews was designed to do this; and under the preaching of the gospel, it is still done. Men see that they are condemned; they are convinced by the Law that they cannot save themselves, and thus they are led to the Redeemer. The effect of the preached gospel is to show men their sins, and thus to be preparatory, to the embracing of the offer of pardon. Hence the importance of preaching the Law still, and hence, is needful in that men should be made to feel that they are sinners, in order that they may be prepared to embrace the offers of mercy.
The great Prophet Isaiah recorded for us what man's righteousness is in the sight of God.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6
The paraphrased edition of the Bible has it this way,
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags
Simply stated, nothing man can do, or does do will make him acceptable to God. Only believers in Jesus Christ receive the righteousness of God. Are you a real and true believer?
The problem comes because man does not believe God's Word. He has believed Satan's lie. Religion will be fine. If I am sincere, then God will accept me. Wrong! Salvation is only in God's appointed Savior, no matter how sincere one is.
So the Law of Moses had its purpose, and still has a purpose to show us that we cannot keep the Law of God. That the Law does not take away sin even if one could have kept it. Suppose you could keep the Law of Moses. No one else ever did but Jesus. Your keeping the Law would not save you, and allow you to go to heaven. Why? It does not remove or get rid of sin. Anyway, if you did keep it, what about the sins you committed before you kept the Law. They would still be there to condemn you. So anything man does cannot, and will not prepare him for heaven to live with the Lord.
So how can I be righteous? By faith! Listen to what the Bible says about that.
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:3-4
Believe God. That is faith. God said we were all sinners. You believe that? God said accept my Son as your savior. Have you honestly done that? If you have asked the Lord to forgive you of your sins, then He has made you righteous.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21
Did you see in the above scripture that we are "made" righteous. We are made as righteous as God is. Now I know that is a mouthful. But that is the teaching of the Word of God. The sinful creatures we are, can be made as new creatures, because of faith in Jesus Christ. When we put our trust in Jesus Christ as our personal savior, then God justifies us. Now to some that is another big word. It also is a Bible word. The word justify means to be as if we have never, ever sinned. Let us look again at the following scripture,
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:4
Can you believe that? That's what God is saying to us. We are as if we have never sinned and we have been made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. This is nothing more than the grace of God toward us. God does not have to save anyone, but He is saving all who trust His Son as their own personal savior. Actually, there is nothing more God can do. Now it is up to you, me, and all others, as to what we will do with the Lord Jesus Christ.
How is this possible you may ask? It is possible because that is the power of the blood of Jesus. Only His blood has the ability to cleanse away our guilt and condemnation. Living good will not do that. Having religion will not do that. Just believing in God does not do that. So by trusting Jesus who died in our place, God credits to us the righteousness of His only Son. So salvation then is by faith in God's Son who paid the sin debt for all who believe.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness). Hebrews 9:22
So being a good person will not get us to heaven, nor belonging to some church or religion. Only by asking for forgiveness of our sins, and trusting Jesus as our Savior, will we be saved, and go to heaven when this life is complete. I pray that you will be there.
Father, thank you for the gift of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen, Preacher