I hope you’ll read the comments on yesterday’s post, as well as Pastor Bob’s blog. I wrote in my journal this morning: “I should re-read the posts from Feb 23 often–daily?–to get refocused on my real mission in life!”
We never got to verse 2 yesterday [in fact we never even talked about the role of prayer in verse 1, but i think i can work that in next Monday] so I’ve added verse 2 to today’s reading. It’s more of a natural division anyways, since 2,3 and 4 go together syntactically. So let’s check it out!
As I read through today’s passage, I see that it talks about the Jews’ pursuit of righteousness. It ties right back to the end of chapter nine, where we saw that many Gentiles didn’t pursue righteousness, but obtained it, whereas many Jews pursued it and missed it altogether! So there’s something here about obtaining righteousness that apparently requires something other than “pursuit”.
Verse 3 tells me that righteousness comes from God, not something I generate on my own.
Then Paul paints contrasting scenarios at the end of verse 3.
Seeking to establish their own [righteousness]
submit to God’s righteousness
Those two italicised verbs intrigued me, so I looked them up in the Greek, using the NET Bible’s KJV & GRK tabs. As I suspected the word establish is in the active voice, indicating “doing a work”. The picture is someone who is standing firm, holding your ground, bucking up, gritting your teeth, keeping the enemy at bay. Those are admirable qualities in battle, but the battle of righteousness can’t be won. We are grossly outnumbered. It’s wasted effort. Zeal without knowledge.
The word submit is in the passive voice as I also suspected. It tells us that on this occasion, the only prudent thing to do is wave the white flag, admitting we are overcome by the requirements of the law and that we’ll never measure up. We need to be rescued.
In the end, it comes down to Christ (vs 4). Though the law dooms us, trusting in Him gives us the victory of righteousness!
Think of how many people miss this crucial truth. Think of all the people of other faiths–and even many under the umbrella of Christianity–who get caught up in trying to obtain a righteousness based on works. So close, but yet so far away!
Two parting questions:
How can we express our thankfulness to God for pulling us off the treadmill of works?
What can we do to help others discover the truth about God’s free gift of grace?