Law vs. Gospel

September 12, 2004 ()

Bible Text: Romans 10:5-10 |


Audio Note: We noticed a slight problem with the recording. Toward the end the sound quality may diminish, but 95% of it looked good.

Much of what Paul has been saying about these two kinds of righteousness, one by works which can never save, and one by faith which alone can save. In this passage, Paul is now going to examine the fundamental principles upon which these two kinds of righteousness rest. In doing so, he will set forth the fundamental difference between the law and the gospel: DOING vs. BELIEVING.


"Moses writes" in Lev. 18:5 ‘So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD.

Several principles from the law emerge:

1) Moses quotes the words of God.

2) What is required is to practice the righteousness which is based on law. And in the context of Leviticus this means a constant, on-going, DOING of the law. And not just some of the law, but ALL of the law. Cf. James 2:10-11.

If your relationship with God is based on the law, then you have to be a perfect DOER of the law. Rom. 2:13 for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

The problem is that this is impossible for since the fall of Adam, the whole human race has inherited a sin nature which cannot obey God’s law. Gal. 3:21-22; Rom. 8:7.

The result is that we all fall under the law’s curse. Gal. 3:10.

3) Only those who practice the righteousness of the law in this way can live by that righteousness.

What kind of "life" is in view? Although you could make a case that God was speaking about life in the land of Canaan, probably eternal life is in view here. See Rom. 7:10 and the context here.

So, the testimony of the law is PRACTICE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LIVE.

Faith righteousness speaks differently than law-righteousness and in this section Paul begins to describe for us the nature of gospel faith. To do this Paul makes use of another OT passage from Deut. 30:12-14. Paul takes this passage from Deut. 30 which refers to the law of God and applies the same principles of accessibility and understandability to the gospel of Christ.

Notice first what the righteousness of faith DOES NOT SAY:

1) that salvation requires heroic efforts from man (vv. 6-7).

"Who will ascend into heaven?"
"Who will descend into the abyss?"

"Ascending into heaven" = proverb for an impossible task. Moses’ point was no one needs to go to heaven to bring the law down for God has already given it at Sinai, so also no one needs to go to heaven to bring down a Messiah for God has already sent His Son.

Salvation does not require any heroic effort on man’s part to either bring about the INCARNATION, or the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ. The Father has already done that.

Salvation is totally the work of God. Man does NOT DO anything. Mt. 19:24-26.
Faith based righteousness believes the gospel of Christ. We believe that a Savior has come and died and arose from the dead.

Now listen to what the righteousness based on faith DOES SAY:

2) The word (= word of faith, gospel of Christ) is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (v. 8). This can have two meanings.

First, it can refer to the gospel as it is preached to unbelievers.
Second, it can also be understood in a deeper way of how the New Covenant differs             from the Old Covenant in bringing this righteousness to believers thru a new heart.


Thus, the contrast between the righteousness from the law and the righteousness of the gospel is that the first comes by DOING, the later by BELIEVING.