The most effective act of righteousness is simply believing God

Paul equates faith in Messiah as a righteous act, equally as righteous as any of the acts of the law-keeping Jews, and in fact more so, because faith in God was the whole point of the law.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

Romans 3:21-22

One of the radical teachings brought out by the apostle Paul is the fact that faith in God and his Messiah is considered a righteous act. To his Jewish audience, righteousness had been defined solely by following the law of Moses. In fairness, this would not have been an incorrect conclusion, but the Jews had complicated it further by adding man-made rules and traditions that began to overshadow the original intent of God in the first place.

Paul’s argument throughout the early chapters of his letter to the Roman assembly is challenging, to be sure, but masterfully lays out how all along faith had been the root of righteousness that God was seeking for his people, and he uses the example of Abraham to make his point.

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 4:13

Paul’s whole point in doing so is to demonstrate how the torah or instruction of God described how Abraham was considered righteous simply by believing what God had promised him. This is the righteousness that was “apart from the law” (because it was 400 years before Sinai) yet “witnessed by the law and Prophets.” It’s as if Paul is saying just because faith was not one of the Ten Commandments at Sinai or expressly listed as a requirement of the covenant, faith in God is all through the “law and the Prophets,” that is, the rest of the Bible. According to Paul, this principle was there all along but was only then being revealed to his people as they were coming to faith in Messiah.

Paul equates faith in the Messiah of God as a righteous act, equally as righteous as any of the acts of the law-keeping Jews, and in fact more so, because faith in God was the whole point of the law. By demonstrating how Abraham’s faith preceded the giving of the law at Sinai, Paul is highlighting how the righteousness that the Jews thought they were possessing through their over-strict adherence to the letter of the law was being diminished because they were not expressing the faith in God that the torah was designed to supplement all along. It was a classic case of the Jews having missed the forest for the trees.

When we seek to live lives of integrity that Yeshua asks of us, we should consider that whatever the situation, demonstration of faith in God is always the most righteous thing we could ever do. God’s torah points us in the right direction, but it must always be accompanied by faith in him to be truly effective in the intent that God had for it in the first place. And it will never return to him without accomplishing what he intends.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper [in the thing] for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.

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