Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: ‘The man who does these things will live by them.’ 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:”
When you read the above passage, you might be saying “what”? The whole ascend and descend thing can be confusing! At least, it was for me. As we dissect this passage, remember that Paul has been contrasting two kinds of righteousness. We’ll see both of them in this passage.
First, is a righteousness that finds its origin in the Law. Paul is quoting from Leviticus 18:5. Regarding this approach to righteousness, Moses said “the man who does these things will live by them.” When you first read this, it may look like Moses is saying that there is a chance that man can get saved by keeping the Law. However, the problem we run into is that no one is able to live up to the requirements of the Law—no one. Think back to what we’ve already read concerning the Law. Remember that Paul has already concluded that the Law points us in the right direction; however, it provides no power for us to achieve its demands.
Then what was Moses saying? Essentially Moses was saying that if you could obey the law perfectly, you would receive eternal life. But, as all of us have experienced, none of us can do that! It’s not possible, for we are all marred by sin.
Paul quotes Moses again in verses 6-7. Basically, he tells the people that they don’t have to climb up to heaven because Christ has already come down from it. They didn’t have to deal with their own sin because Christ already did that. They didn’t have to complicate their relationship with God by completing a list of do’s and don’ts; they simply had to realize that faith was readily available if they would merely believe. They needed to listen to Moses who knew that something more than law-keeping was needed. He knew that faith was simply about what you said with your mouth because you believed it in your heart. It wasn’t something too difficult; it was right in front of them. What makes the Gospel so beautiful is that it is so simple that small children can understand it, and it is so profound that even the wisest theologians will never exhaust its riches.
We can trust Jesus—the Word of God—because He is near to us. We don’t need to complicate everything, we don’t need to achieve some level of spiritual maturity, we don’t need to do this or that—whatever it is that you think earns you some favor with God. We simply need to trust in Jesus Christ.
Our application is this: Have you drawn near to God? If you’ve placed your faith in Christ, know that you will never be separated from Him—you’re secure! But we don’t come to Him once, we come day by day and moment by moment. We come to His throne to find the help we need daily. If you’re struggling today in your faith, turn to the author and perfecter of your faith. Draw near to Him with confidence so that you may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 7:5). Know that we are saved through faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone!
*From what you have just read and considered, what is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live out this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the Good News today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest; Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.