Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4)
Paul’s earnest desire and prayer was for the people of Israel to be saved. This would imply the Jews that were being addressed were not saved, but why? This portion of scripture speaks not only to the Jews who thought they were following God in the first century, but also to all those who were unwise of God’s scriptures. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
Let us examine what the scriptures are teaching:
First, Paul bears witness that this group of people were indeed zealous for God. Much like people today, there is a real outward showing of a love and zeal for God that is clearly visible for all to see. However, the zeal and love for God that is being displayed by the people is not according to knowledge. What kind of knowledge is missing? The knowledge of the scriptures. The Jews in this context were wanting and trying to be righteous before God by their own standards, which was not going to work. These ideals would not work then, and they will not work in our time now. Let us understand that Paul was concerned because they were still trying to find righteousness under the Law of Moses and their own ideas, and not by a knowledge of God’s will. “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (Romans 10:2)
Second, Paul declares their ignorance concerning God’s righteousness. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, (Romans 10:3a). A Christian that knows the Truth of God’s Word can see a Christian facade very clearly. Paul, having knowledge of the truth, understood what was happening. These individuals were trying to be righteous before God by means that God did not approve of. They were creating their own rules for Christianity and/or bringing old things into the following of Jesus Christ. The problem here is that these people did not recognize that God has the standard of righteousness, and all must submit to it. Much like today, many Christians believe that they can be Christians any way they want. They create new types of worship, they openly teach false doctrine, and they believe that God will be so lenient to them that they would never be lost. This is such a damaging doctrine to those who are seeking to be Christians today. The truth of the scripture is this: “For there is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:11), and “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34-35). It is important for us to understand that God will judge everyone equally. Accordingly, none of us are special, and none of us are going to get special treatment.
Third, Paul clearly teaches that submission to our own false righteousness is not a substitution for submission to the righteousness of God by way of His Holy Word, which is the Truth. “and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3b). The Christians that Paul was addressing here were hanging on to old traditions and things that they were creating concerning righteousness. These types of inventions are empty and have no substance in Christianity. The Bible teaches that all people must obey the gospel of Christ. This means that we must all submit to Jesus and His teaching as He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
The truth that is found in God’s Word concerning our submission to Him and His doctrine is eye-opening. “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9). It should cause all to be concerned that they are in the Truth when professing Christianity but are not in righteousness. Rather, they are creating ways to worship and be righteous by their own means, and God will not accept it. It is the church’s job preach and teach truth to the world, and that includes people who are deceived into a false Christianity.
Lastly, Christ is the end of the law. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4) No longer were these Jews able to bring the law of Moses into Christianity. In Christianity, they are free from those laws, ordinances, and man-made ideals. In Christ there is true Liberty and freedom. “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17). “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1).
Christ alone and His teaching is the answer to Salvation. Our job now is to search the scriptures for the truth, and to live by it. We must not be caught on the wrong side of zeal. Our zeal must come from God’s Word, a true knowledge. We must submit to the righteousness of God in all facets of Christianity, from worship to individual living. From the conception of Christianity, it is clear man cannot create his own righteousness, and man’s creations of zeal without knowledge and professing of God is not valid in God’s eyes. We must be righteous by God’s standard of righteousness. Let us, therefore, be full of knowledge that produces righteous zeal and proclamation of our Christian faith! Let’s be smart about our Christianity.