Summary: One can be confident, zealous, and religious, but also be lost. It is only through repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ that we can be saved.
The Confident Lost Vs. the True Believer
1. One of my wife’s third graders was wearing a Fitbit watch, which prompted my wife to ask, “Are you tracking your steps?” “No,” said the little girl. “I wear this for Mommy so she can show Daddy when he gets home.” —James Avery, Rd.com
2. There are a lot of fakes out there. On the other hand, there are many people who are very optimistic about themselves and their relationship to God – without warrant.
3. I call such people the “confident lost.” Lost people who claim God as their buddy.
4. Such was the condition of most the people of Israel at the time of Romans. They were decent, religious people – but chose not to avail themselves of the salvation offered through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
Main Idea: One can be confident, zealous, and religious, but also be lost. It is only through repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ that we can be saved.
I. Many Zealous Jews Were Intently Focused Upon the Trees and thus BLINDED to the Forest (1-4).
A. Although there were 24 Jewish sects, most Jews either believed they were saved because of DESCENDING from Abraham or by Torah OBSERVANCE.
B. Paul repeats his burden: he desperately wants to see fellow Jews believe in JESUS (1).
Many Jewish people do come to know the Lord. My favorite mysteries are Agatha Christie’s, esp. Hercule Poirot. David Suchet, a Jewish man whose forefathers migrated from Lithuanian to the UK, played the role. Suchet later became a believer in Jesus through reading the Book of Romans in a motel. He now has a ministry of reading the Bible. Youtube: watch him read all of Mark from a Church of England Cathedral.
C. Rather than RECEIVING God’s righteousness, they were busy trying to establish their own (2-3).
1. The underlying cause: zeal without KNOWLEDGE.
2. They knew particulars, but missed the BIG picture.
3. The hardest people to reach for Christ are often the religious but LOST.
• What is paradigm blindness? A paradigm is a blueprint or a map in your mind, a form into which everything else is made to fit. It is a system or model. Paradigm blindness occurs when we can not see something or understand because it is out of our paradigm. We need to “think outside the box.”
4. Many people never seriously PONDER the condition of their souls.
D. Christ provides what the law aims toward: RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1. This begins with imputed (assigned), legal righteousness.
2. Imputed righteousness transforms us so that we demonstrate practical righteousness. One has to produce the other.
3. NIV of verse 4 captures the meaning better, “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
4. The relationship of the Law to the Christian is a very complex subject. To be brief, let me point out that there are many purposes of the Torah, perhaps 9 main ones.
• Short bottom line: Christianity is trans-cultural Messianic Judaism; we still abide by the transcultural aspects of the Law, i.e,, those commands that are not uniquely given to the nation of Israel; generally repeated in the New Testament.
E. These unbelievers were confident they were saved, but they were not; we need to be sure we are IN CHRIST.
II. The Principle Behind a Proper Understanding of the Law is FAITH, Not Human Effort (5-7).
A. The righteousness that the Law offers cannot be received MECHANICALLY, nor can it ignore the call to REGENERATION and FAITH in the Messiah (5).
2. Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
3. Rabbi Simlai taught "Six hundred and thirteen commandments were given to Moses; then David came and reduced them to eleven in Psalm 15.; Isaiah (33:15), to six; Micah (6:8), to three; Isaiah again (56:1), to two; and Habakkuk (2:4), to one: 'The just lives by his faithfulness' (b. Talmud, Makkot 24a).
4. The relationship between faith and faithfulness.
B. An ABSURD illustration makes the point (6-7).
1. A midrash on Deuteronomy 30:13-14.
2. Here the commandment or Word is replaced with the Living Word, Christ.
3. Could the Jewish people ascend to heaven to bring Him down?
4. After he was crucified, could the Jewish people resurrect Him from the dead.
5. No. God had to do it, and they could only receive the benefits of what God did.
6. Thus salvation is provided by God on our behalf, not our own doing.
7. And it is near at hand!