Zeal and righteousness
Sunday's sermon on Romans 10:1-10
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
Today I would like to focus on and unpack three topics Saint Paul mentions in his Epistle to the Christians in Rome that we just heard. Namely, zeal for God according to accurate knowledge, God’s righteousness, and Christ being the fulfillment of the Law and of all righteousness.
So the first topic – zeal for God according to accurate knowledge. Saint Paul says this about Israel. He actually says “that they have zeal for God, but it is notaccording to accurate knowledge.” As an Israelite himself, as a Jew, as “a Pharisee and a son of the Pharisee” (Acts 23:6), Paul can confidently say that, while being zealous for God, Israel does not have accurate knowledge of God … because they rejected Christ, rejected His saving work.
Today, there are many people who have great zeal for God, or are extremely zealous for a good cause, but all of that is in vain because their zeal is not according to accurate knowledge. They do not have the knowledge of God, the knowledge of God as He revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.
For example, quite a few of the social movements today are done in the Name of God, or in the name of love, but they are misdirected because they try to redefine sin. And if anything, God has given us some pretty clear guidelines of what is and what is not sin.
Or take as another example zeal for a good cause, such as environmentalism. It is simply part of our duty as Christians to take care of God’s creation. But the whole movement of environmentalism is not according to accurate knowledge anymore because it has become politicized, and has turned into fearmongering.
Research shows that people are more stressed out and depressed because of the doomsday predictions of the environmentalists. And in this fear, we are more likely to agree to all sorts of unreasonable policies and buy all sorts of unneeded environmentally friendly garbage that in the end not only do not help, but rather harm the environment even more.
Act with zeal by all means. Social movements and environmentalism areimportant issues in our society today, but make sure to do it according to accurate knowledge of what God desires us to do in such cases. To have accurate knowledge of God, we need to know Him as He has revealed Himself, not as we want Him to be.
The second topic of today is God’s righteousness. Again speaking of Israel, Saint Paul says, “Being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness.”
God’s righteousness here, and through the whole Bible in fact, refers to Him keeping His promises. God is righteous because He does what He promises. And when we are talking about God’s promises, we go as far back as Abraham, whose descendants God promised to make as numerous as the sands of the sea.
And who are the descendants of Abraham? Everyone who confesses with their lips that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised Him from the dead.
We know God is righteous because everything He has promised to do, He has done. And He continues to do, as He promised that those who confess and believe will be saved.
So, in order to inherit the promises made to Abraham, we need to have a relationship with Jesus – by following Him, by serving Him, by being His witnesses.
And Jesus is the culmination of all of God’s promises in that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law. The word “fulfillment” also means “purpose.” Christ is the purpose of the Law. The Law was not given to Israel as an end in itself. It was always preparing people for and pointing them towards Jesus Christ.
And the Law was not abolished by Christ, it continues to point us toward Him. As He Himself says in the Gospels, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” And what are the commandments of Christ? The Law, given by Christ to Moses on Mount Sinai after Israel escaped Egypt.
Zeal for God that is according to accurate knowledge is about God’s righteousness, His keeping of all of His promises. God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Who is the purpose of the Law, the purpose of our life.
Christ is also the zeal with which we can hope to change the society by keeping His commandments, and confessing with our lips that He is Lord, and believing with our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. The only way to change ourselves and our society positively is by following Christ’s commandments. There is no other way.
To God Who keeps His promises and grants us accurate knowledge for our zeal we give glory, honor, and worship, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages.
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