Peter was born-again and Holy Spirit-filled, but he still had some Law tendencies in him. Paul was passionate about his church not being influenced by that legalistic leaven and very clearly corrected him.
The message ~ A Law mentality only exposes the sinfulness of sin in our lives because the Law cannot reveal righteousness. The Gospel reveals how grace empowers us over sin because the Gospel revealed approval with God by faith alone.
THE WEAKNESS OF THE LAW~
Romans 7:13 stated that the purpose of sin was to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin! Notice that it does not say to show the sinfulness of *the sinner*! No. The nonreligious sinner needs more than sin exposed. They know their own wicked deeds. Their own heart and conscience testifies against them. What they lack is a revelation of God! They need to perceive his goodness (which draws them to repentance). God needed to expose his love!
Back to Romans 7:13 where it said that the purpose of the Law was to expose the sinfulness of sin! The Law revealed what sin truly was. Sin brought death, pain, misery, etc… Sin made people feel disconnected from God. The Law perfectly exposed all of this.
Romans 3:20 and 7:7 clearly declared that “The Law brought knowledge of sin.” This word is more than information about sin. It’s relationship with sin that the Law brought! The same kind of knowledge of God that we have through intimacy with God. The same kind of “knowing” that Adam had with his wife Eve when she conceived. It’s not a head knowledge. The Law gave people an intimate relationship with sin because it empowered sin in their lives! (Romans 7:8-13) Consider 1 Corinthians 15:”56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“The power of sin is the Law!” If we preach a mixed Gospel with even an ounce of Law in it, we empower sin! Unfortunately the Law gives sin more power in a persons life.
THE POWER OF GOD IS THE GOSPEL!
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for *IT* is the power of God unto salvation…” (Romans 1:16)
Why is the Gospel the power of God?
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith!” Romans 1:17
Remember that the Messianic Jews Paul was writing too were more well versed in the Law than they were the Gospel. They had lived for generations with the Law and were deeply entrenched in the Law mindset. They believed that righteousness was according to the Law! It took some of them a long time to renew their minds in the truth of the Gospel. We just saw that the Law could only expose sin. Let’s check out how the Law failed to reveal righteousness before we continue on into the unveiling of righteousness by faith.
UNABLE TO REVEAL RIGHTEOUSNESS ~
Paul rebuked Peter to his face for coming to Antioch and refraining from eating with the Gentiles because of fear towards the religious Jewish rules. Paul recorded this in Galatians 2:11-14 and immediately unleashed one of his most simple truths in the following verses.
Paul (a Messianic Jew) probably still speaking to Peter (another Messianic Jew) ~ “15“We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”
Although they were both Jews who knew the Law and were even born under the Law, their justification (righteousness) was not through the Law but through faith! Paul continued ~
“18“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
V.18 made it clear that they could not rebuild the Law because they died *to the Law* in Christ! (Don’t try to understand it, it takes faith to believe this miracle.) They were dead to the Law because v. 21 revealed that Christ death would have been in vain if righteousness were possible through works of the Law!
So now we know that the Law was truly unable to reveal/give righteousness (which is, among other things, approval with God). Thank you Peter for missing it so much that Paul had the opportunity to clearly reveal such profound revelation! How great is the mercy of God our Father!?
RIGHTEOUSNESS REVEALED ~
Ok. I’ve hinted at this from Romans 1 and Galatians 2. Since these were all accounts recorded towards Messianic Jews (who had been born under the Law), I will continue in that thought via Romans 10.
Romans 9-11 is Paul’s clarification concerning the Jewish people and on Chapter 10 he greatly elaborates on 2 things.
This is one of the main points of the entire letter to the Romans and it completely captures what Paul had started talking about way back in Romans 1:16-17. (And you may think I’m longwinded…haha)
Paul wrote concerning the Jews in Romans 10: ~ “1Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them (The Jews) is for their salvation. 2For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” *This knowledge is *not* information because they had the Law! This knowledge is “epignosis” which is that intimate knowing that I very briefly mentioned above.*
They had zeal and knowledge, but not relationship.
Next verses ~ ” 3For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone believing!”
That moment is like the Death Star being destroyed in A New Hope.
Trying to perform righteousness by the Law and works was equivalent to ignoring the righteousness of God and establish manmade righteousness! But Christ is “The End” of the Law for righteousness to everyone believing! The Greek word for the end is more literally “The Consummation” or the “end goal” or “purpose”.
The Law didn’t just end like a movie is over. The Law’s complete purpose was fully realized in Christ and righteousness has been revealed!
Not by works. Law or otherwise. Not even by works according to the Sermon on the Mount!
Are you hearing this? Recall that Jesus had said in the S.O.M. ~ 20“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees was the righteousness of the Law. Our righteousness that surpasses that is the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!
Approval with God is not by anything we could ever do! Even if we perfectly fulfill every instruction that Jesus ever spoke to the Jews in that generation, we could not gain one ounce of approval with God.
We have approval with God by faith.
Jesus is our faith. We do not have faith in anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ himself!
We are perfectly righteous because of Jesus forever and we cannot add to that or take away from it!
I wanted to jump into how the Gospel revealed that grace (through righteousness) now empowers us to overcome sin, but I need to wrap up one more point on righteousness.
Everyone who has believed is already in Christ with every spiritual blessing. ( Especially in Eph.1:3, 2:6 but also in Col.3:1-3 & Rom. 6:5-11)
God has already reconciled us to himself because we are in Christ and he made us the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:14-21) but it will probably help you to intentionally receive his free gift of righteousness. Let me be clear ~ All who have been born-again by receiving the Holy Spirit have the gift of righteousness. According to those verses in 2 Cor.5, not only are we righteous but God has made us the righteousness of God! We are already a completely new Creation.
But, it may help *you* (not God) to acknowledge it before the Lord. It may increase your faith in what God has already given you.
FOREVER RIGHTEOUS BY THE GIFT ~
I first heard this revelation of righteousness from an Andrew Wommack teaching (which is free at AWMI.net) and 3 years ago, it changed my life forever! Romans 5:17 opened my the eyes of my heart forever ~
” 17For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
HOW DID I RECEIVE RIGHTEOUSNESS?
First consider a few verses in Romans 10 ~
“6But the righteousness based on faith speaks…”
” 8But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation”
“17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
All of these passages emphasize not just believing, but speaking (and therefore hearing) the Faith. It helps *us* (not God) when we speak the Truth about what God has said about us because it increases our faith in what God has already done!
Remember that God has already given us everything to pertaining to life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:1-4) but that passage revealed that we partake of all these aspects of his divine nature through the knowledge (relationship) with him.
So I began to praise and worship God for giving me his righteousness in Christ! For a few months I was in euphoria because for a few years I had been seeking “primarily the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” and truly I had been unable to find it. His ways are beyond searching out! Who can know them?
Hahaha…and that is true.
But they are not beyond him revealing them. It is the Father’s good pleasure (his perfect will!) to give you the Kingdom. ~ Jesus.
Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth would guide us into all truth and convince us of righteousness because Jesus has gone to the Father! (and he has taken us with him/in him. Yup, It takes faith to believe that miracle too.) John 16:5-15
Romans 14:17 ~ “The Kingdom of God is not food or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Simply believe and receive what you have already been given.