“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. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”” Rom 10:3-5
Paul is still on his same topic – where does righteousness come from? They – Israel – were ignorant of God’s righteousness, which is the righteousness which is by faith. They were preached this righteousness! (Heb 4:2). How did they have the gospel preached to them? The blood of the Passover lamb was applied to their doorposts by faith, before they ever heard one word of the Law! But when they received the Law, then they misunderstood its purpose. It was only after they were delivered from slavery, from the kingdom of Egypt, or darkness, only after they were free as an act of grace, that God gave them His commandments on Mt. Sinai. Now that they were in His house, and free from the house of Pharaoh, their Papa was giving them the rules of His house, just as any good papa does his children. 🙂 But following the rules of the house is not what makes one a child of the house. 🙂
Someone seeks to establish his own righteousness when they attempt to be made righteous by works of obedience to the Law. When righteousness comes from obedience, then there has not been submission to God’s righteousness, which is of faith.
Now Paul has thoroughly established that righteousness cannot come from works of obedience to the Law, it must come from faith. When he says that Messiah is the end of the Law for righteousness for everyone who believes, then what is he saying? Messiah is the extremity of the Law, the end point, the goal, the completion of the righteous requirement of the Law (telos, Strong’s G5056 from Hebrew H7093). This is why Paul says Messiah is the end of the Law for righteousness – in order to make one in right standing before God. Now that Messiah has come, the Law no longer makes one righteous (which was its misunderstood purpose; that was never its purpose as Moses taught it).
Paul is not saying that the every purpose of the Law has ended. Just the one in which we obey the Law for righteousness. He is not saying that the Law no longer has any benefit at all. He is not saying that the Law no longer explains what righteous behavior looks like, nor is he saying that now that we are reckoned righteous by faith, we can live unrighteously, in opposition to the Law.
Much of the New Testament is devoted to explaining this distinction. Paul says, in many other places, look, someone who is truly born of the Spirit is not going to live a life characterized by unrighteousness (1 Cor 6:9-11). James says that our (righteous) deeds give outward evidence of the inward faith (that made us righteous before God in the first place, Jam 2:14-26). John says that the one who practices lawlessness, who says he knows Jesus, is lying (1 Joh 2:3-8). Jesus said that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit (Luk 6:43-45).
We saw before that the seed, which is Messiah, which is the Word, which is received by faith in the heart, produces its own fruit. The seed of Messiah cannot produce the fruit of lawlessness, unrighteousness, and sinfulness. We can be deceived in our minds, and not understand what righteous fruit looks like. That is the benefit of the Word – the Word is the plumb line, which tells us whether our thoughts, our actions, our lives are straight or not. All of us need our minds renewed, without which we will not be able to tell what the will of God is (Rom 12:2). None of us is born with perfect knowledge of God’s definition of righteous behavior. Because we live in a fallen world, in a body of flesh, with minds which are not born again, it would be good for us to be continually washing our minds with the water of the Word (Eph 5:25-27). We need to keep His Word before our eyes and guard it in our hearts, so that the Spirit by it can be constantly informing us of how to fine tune our responses, our words, and our actions. 🙂
But Paul is not suggesting that because, by the Spirit, we seek to conform ourselves to the Word, and not to the world, that it means we are trying to get saved by living rightly in accordance with the Law. No. We have been saved, and are now working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phi 2:12). By the Law, by learning God’s will revealed in the Law, we are learning how saved people live, and making adjustments all along the way. This is how we learn that it is not God’s will for His children to commit murder. This is how we learn that it is not God’s will for His children to steal or tell lies. This is how we learn that it is not God’s will for His children to set stumbling blocks before the blind. This is how we learn that it is not God’s will for His children to labor on the 7th day, His set apart day of rest.
If we make a mistake, we do not listen to the devil beat us up over it! Making a mistake cannot unsave us any more than not making a mistake can save us! We fell down; all children learning to walk do! (We are the children of God, not the adults of God). Get up, brush off, and try again! Our transgressions of Torah have been nailed to the cross (Col 2:14)!