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Romans 10:1-4

For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 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.

(verses 2-4)


“Righteousness.” The word pops up again and again in these few short verses. It’s a concentrated dose of an ongoing theme that runs through the entirety of this letter to the Romans.

It surfaced for us the first time right in the very first chapter of this letter:

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:17).

It came up again as a breath of relief in chapter 3:

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22).

It was used many times over in chapter 4, referring to the gift Abraham received by faith:

“Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness … the righteousness that comes from faith” (Romans 4:3, 13).


Now, here in chapter 10, we encounter the contrast between God’s own righteousness, which can only be received by faith, and the righteousness that some vainly try to attain by their own effort and struggle.

Paul knew that struggle. He’d been there. On the outside it had all looked good, but Romans 7 gives us insight into the ongoing internal angst he experienced: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing … What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:19, 24).

Martin Luther experienced this same anguish. He committed himself to life as a monk because he feared God’s judgement and wanted to secure for himself entrance into heaven. Tirelessly he launched into an unfulfilled pursuit of righteousness, beating his body, fasting for days on end, deeply troubled by the phrase “the righteousness of God,” taking it as a reference to God’s righteous judgement of sinners. But then he arrived here! His eyes were opened like Paul’s. He said that when he understood righteousness as a gift of sheer grace, given by God, received purely by faith, “I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.”

It comes purely and simply through Jesus.

“Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (verse 4). Praise His Name.


Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the right-standing you have purchased for me through the cross.

Dear Father, thank you for the righteousness from yourself you declare over me in Jesus’ name.

Dear Holy Spirit, help me to forever live within this freedom bestowed upon me.




Are there places in your life where you are still struggling to earn your own right-standing with God? If so, put it all in his hands. Receive from him afresh the righteousness only he can give. Put an end to all else. Simply believe. Trust Jesus.


Photo by Laura Dewilde on Unsplash

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