Rom 9:30-33 “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
Righteousness is described as goodness, integrity, honesty, and innocence, among other things. These are traits that we admire and seek to attain in society. For the believers in Jesus Christ, righteousness is more than a social construct. It is something that we receive from God through Jesus, and is revealed in us by the Holy Spirit.
True righteousness is not the result of living a good life. It does not come by understanding the law. Keeping the letter of the law does not result in righteousness. If that were the case, the Pharisees of the Bible would have stood at the top of the list.
According to Paul, there are those who have attained (eagerly possessed) righteousness. However, this did not happen because they were seeking righteousness. While desirable, moral living is not true righteousness. True righteousness is the result of faith.
It was through the faith of Jesus Christ that righteousness came. His righteousness is imputed unto us according to the will of God. Paul has already instructed his audience here that there is none righteous. The natural man does not have and is not capable of righteousness.
Righteousness comes only by Jesus Christ. We will not follow after it until we are given faith by God to believe in His Son. Even if we live our lives according to a strict set of rules and regulations, we will not attain unto righteousness. Righteousness must be sought by faith.
Faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8). It does not come to us because of anything we have done. The righteousness that is of faith originates with God. It can never be attained by what we do.
God knew that men would stumble at this notion. Our Lord and Saviour is referred to as a stumblingstone. Men are offended by the truth of God’s grace because is leaves out our efforts. Only in the righteousness that is of faith do we understand that any goodness and integrity that is displayed by us is the result of the work of God in our lives.
The world may ridicule such a belief. Men may mock the righteousness of Jesus. By the gift of faith, we embrace Him and His grace without shame of doubt. In Him alone is secured God’s gift to us of eternal life.
May we always walk in the righteousness of Christ alone, and not in the filthy rags of our own self-righteousness!