The Jewish nation had a fatal flaw. It would be the downfall of their entire religious house of cards. What was that flaw? They didn’t think that God was as holy as He is. Certainly they viewed God as holy, but when it came to the practical, every day living, in their minds, He really was only worried about what their outer person was doing (no killing, stealing, lying, or sleeping around). They assumed that as long as they were trying to do good things, and live according to His laws, He would overlook their shortcomings (namely, the sins on the inside that no one sees, like pride and lust and hate). But they failed to realize that a perfectly holy God has a perfectly holy standard that all must attain. So year after year, they worked hard to fulfill all the external points of the law, always finding themselves inadequate, but never fully grasping the importance of their own impotence. You see, the law was never going to be a standard to achieve. Rather, it was there as a bill board along the road of life, pointing to the coming Messiah and His righteousness. The Jewish people were supposed to eventually find themselves so inadequate and frustrated at their floundering attempts at righteousness, that they would turn in faith to the promise of God that one day He would send someone who would fulfill the law perfectly as they never could. Most Jews, however, unfortunately missed this purpose of the law and saw it as a way to earn righteousness on their own. Paul says in v.3 they were “ignorant of God’s righteousness, and went about to establish their own righteousness” (which was by the law), “not submitting themselves to the righteousness which was of God.” God designed for righteousness to come by faith, but they thought it would come through their works, so they completely missed God’s righteousness. After demolishing the “righteousness by the law” viewpoint, Paul turns the monologue to addressing the “righteousness of faith.” In verses 6-10, he explains that righteousness is simply doled out by God’s grace to those who put their trust in the saving work of Jesus as their only hope to find peace with God and forgiveness for their sins. Someone with faith does not have to “ascend into heaven or descend into the deep” to obtain righteousness, in other words, there is no need to climb high or search low for it, it is given out by God. It is as simple as v.9-10, “believe in your heart.” The righteousness of faith is righteousness that is given by faith alone to those relying on faith alone and not relying on their own accomplishments. The only true righteousness in God’s eyes is the righteousness which He extends through Jesus because of faith.
Food for Thought: Read Romans 10:1-10. What was Israel’s fatal flaw?