The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 9 : Romans (Commentaries on the Book of Romans)

[Chapter 2-4] (Romans 2:1-29) To Those Who Band Together to Stand against God

(Romans 2:1-29)
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ as it is written. For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
 
 
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”
 This is what the Apostle Paul said to the legalists among the Jews. Before God, those who judge others are bound in their own sins, because they have not received the remission of their sins. Such people try to become righteous by not committing sin. Because their hearts are bound by sin, they judge and condemn other sinners as if they were God’s delegates.
To them, the Apostle Paul said that when seen from the righteousness of God, for a sinner to judge another sinner is akin to condemning himself for his own sins. How can anyone judge others when he is committing the same sins? Sinners condemn others because they, too, have sin. This is no different from condemning oneself as sinful. However, a sinner who does not know the righteousness of God has no right to judge other people as sinful. That’s because the others’ sins are the same as his sins. Therefore, all sinners must believe in the righteousness of God.
Despite this, today’s Christians who have not been born again even though they believe in Jesus have banded together to stand against God. There are many people like this in today’s Christian communities, and they teach their congregations that although Jesus has blotted out the sins of the world and made them righteous, it’s still true that the human heart has sin. So not only do they stand against the righteousness of God, but they also make others reject God’s true love. In contrast, the born-again believe in and follow the righteousness of God.
Denominations are not what can send you to Heaven. Have you ever seen a denomination sending someone to Heaven? It is when we personally believe in the righteousness of God that we are saved from our sins to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The qualification for a sinner to enter Heaven is attained only when he believes that Jesus has remitted away everyone’s sins through His baptism and blood, that is, when he believes in this righteousness of God. The gospel where God’s righteousness is revealed is fair to everyone. God looks at whether or not one believes in His righteousness with his heart. Everyone must therefore believe that Jesus has solved the problem of all the sins of this world through His baptism and blood.
Chapter 2 of the Book of Romans is spoken to those who ignore God’s righteousness. The legalists believe themselves to be honoring God quite well. When it comes to their legalistic faith, they based their faith on their own acts. Such people are prone to judge others. Even in these days, those who profess to believe in Jesus without even knowing the righteousness of God are like this.
The legalists have no interest in God’s righteousness. However, through a legalistic faith that values one’s acts above everything else, it is impossible to attain God’s righteousness. The position of legalistic faith not only stands against God’s righteousness, but it also refuses to break the righteousness of man before the righteousness of God. This is why they are under the wrath of God. In this world, there are many leaders who have legalistic faith standing against the righteousness of God. Because they do not know God’s righteousness, they only teach and compel their congregation to pursue the acts of the Law.
For example, those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God and practice legalistic faith teach and believe that they must never buy or sell anything on Sunday. But the leaders themselves do not actually abide by their own teachings.
The Jewish people were like this. Based on the Law, they had judged the Gentiles’ faith and acts. They likened the Gentiles to dogs, as someone who did not know God and worshipped idols. However, they themselves also broke the Law just as the Gentiles did, and yet they did not accept the righteousness of God. It was none other than the Jews who judged the Gentiles with the Law. Today, even if people believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, if they do not believe in the righteousness of God—that is, in the baptism Jesus Christ received and the blood He shed on the Cross—then they are like these Jews.
“But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.”
A sinner may position himself to judge another man’s sin, but because he himself has sin, he cannot ultimately escape from the just judgment of God. Therefore, no sinner should be a teacher of the Law. On the contrary, all sinners must know and believe in the righteousness of God, and they must thereby receive the God-given remission of sin and spread His righteousness. God’s righteous judgment will be justly rendered on sinners.
“And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”
Sinners are found not only among all the religions of this world, but they are also found among Christians. And in every religion, there are many sinners who are in a position to teach and judge others. In other words, among sinners there are many teachers of the Law who judge others. Long ago, among the Jews, there were many who became teachers of the Law, and they could not escape from the righteous judgment of God. Like this, there are many people who judge others’ acts among sinners. However, God said that He will render His just judgment on the teachers of the Law, and therefore they will not escape from His fearful judgment.
 
 
The Goodness of God Is the Righteousness of God
 
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
Those who know and believe in the gospel power of the righteousness of God can be described as someone who has experienced the goodness of God and the abundant grace of His righteousness and the remission of sin. In contrast, those who, not knowing the righteousness of God, have legalistic faith trying to establish their own righteousness are someone who has despised God’s love.
Among the sins of this world, the sin of despising the righteousness of God is a demonic sin that directly stands against God. So we need to realize and believe that God’s fearful wrath will be rendered on those who despise His righteousness and mercy manifested as the baptism and blood of Jesus.
The righteousness of God refers to the gospel that has blotted out all the sins of this world through the baptism of Jesus and His blood which was shed on the Cross. Everyone must know and believe in the righteousness of God without fail. Without knowing God’s righteousness, it is impossible to believe in Jesus properly, and even the belief in Jesus as one’s Savior is also futile. Yet today, when it comes to believing in God, only a few actually believe in Him with the knowledge of the gospel where God’s righteousness is manifested.
In the hearts of the people of the world, there is a tendency to consider God only as the “greatest” or the “most virtuous” of all in the universe. But they must know that God is good. Nature also shows us the goodness of God. The world around us reveals the true goodness of God. Every moment we breathe in the wonderful air and see the nature, we can really feel just how much our lives rely on God’s goodness. Every time we use the resources of the world to build houses, make clothes, and plant crops, we can grasp that God is indeed good to us.
The righteousness and goodness of God are manifested not only in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but also in our lives. However, God’s righteousness is not revealed in the nature. The righteousness of God is revealed gloriously as the Truth among the many transgressions of mankind. Depending on whether one knows and believes in the righteousness of God determines whether he is someone who despises God’s goodness or not.
The righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is too great. Therefore, as Paul said, we must not be stubborn before God. That’s because it is the righteousness of God that brings freedom and peace from sin to all believers.
 
 
God’s Forbearance Is His Righteousness
 
In verse 4, the righteousness of God is His forbearance. It is absurd that people think and say that they believe in Jesus, and yet they do not even understand God’s righteousness. They mistakenly think that God’s goodness means He is being patient with their sins for a while. However, the righteousness of God does not tolerate sin, but it has blotted out the sins of mankind through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
The fact that you can still receive the remission of your sins is because God’s righteousness is being preached in this world to its fullness. To spread His righteousness throughout the whole world, God has not yet brought the punishment that sinners deserve. That’s because the gospel of the water and the Spirit, where the righteousness of God is contained, is still being proclaimed in this world. If you have learned the righteousness of God or discovered it, then you should cast aside your old faith and have new faith.
When people believe in God’s righteousness, they discover that God’s forbearance is great. Then what is His forbearance? His forbearance is that God has given His righteousness to sinners, and He has called them to be saved from their sins by faith.
There are three attributes to God: The first is God’s goodwill of salvation bestowed on sinners by revealing His righteousness. The second is His patience of longsuffering, and the third is His forbearance that does not render His judgment of sin too soon. When these three attributes are defined in God’s righteousness, the first is the righteousness of God that bestows grace concretely to remit away mankind’s sins, the second is His long patience for these sins of mankind, and the third is His good forbearance that waits until His gift is spread to everyone.
Here “longsuffering” means that God has long endured mankind’s sins for their remission. How amazing is it that God has put up with the world in patience to this day? Today’s people of the world have no fear God and are at the forefront of sinning. The Law of God is trampled, and even His name is regularly insulted. Yet despite this, God does not immediately punish those who are brazenly insulting Him like this. That is because He has bestowed the gospel of His righteousness on this earth.
The gospel of the righteousness of God is truly amazing. The religionists are committing all kinds of sin under the holy name of Christ. Why does God then leave them alone? Why does He not bring down His righteous wrath from Heaven and dispose of such abominable people? There is only one reason for this. That’s because God has decided to blot out all their sins by revealing His righteousness to everyone in this world.
 
 
Believe in the Righteousness of God Manifested in the Gospel
 
For all lives, there are two paths before them. One is the path of salvation that leads them to be saved from their sins by believing in the righteousness of God manifested in the gospel, and the other is the path of rebellion that trounces God’s goodness.
Which path will you embark on? Will you take the path that leads to your salvation from sin by believing in the gospel of the righteousness of God, or will you take the path of rebellion, instead of the gospel of the righteousness of God? You may rebel against God, and you may front your own righteousness and stand against God’s righteousness. But why must you do this? You are refusing to acknowledge the righteousness of God because you do not want to be remitted from your sins. Why, then, do people not believe in God’s righteousness? That’s because they want to establish their own righteousness. God is good. He created mankind. And He is the One who paid for and has bestowed the gospel of His righteousness on mankind. As such, when people believe in God with the knowledge of His righteousness, then they are saved from all their sins.
 
 
Salvation from the Accumulated Wrath of God
 
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,”
The righteousness of God was revealed as the following: Jesus Christ the Son of God came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, took upon the sins of the world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist at the age of 30, died on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and has thereby blotted out all our sins and saved us once for all. Verse 5 here tells us that those who, despite this revelation of God’s righteousness, impertinently refuse to believe in this Truth are actually treasuring up for themselves the wrath that will be poured upon them on the day the righteous judgment of God is revealed. Sinners will bear the wrath of God despite believing in Jesus as their Savior because of their stubborn refusal to believe in the righteousness of God.
In 1 John 5:3-7, the Bible describes Jesus as “He who came by water and blood.” You must therefore realize why Jesus came to this earth by water and blood, and believe in it. In other words, you must know the reason why Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and shed His blood on the Cross, and you must believe in it. You need to know exactly what this Truth is saying about the righteousness of God.
Everyone can escape from his sins and be free by believing in the righteousness of God. Yet this despite, Christians who remain as sinners are abusing themselves with the sins they have committed out of their insufficiencies. Those who do not know the righteousness of God are condemning themselves for their sins and are imprisoned by them. To solve the problem of sin by themselves, they rely on their own efforts such as fasting, doing penance, serving others, or dedicating themselves to some good cause. However, in this world there are too many Christians who still have sin in their hearts despite believing in Jesus. Such people must invariably believe in the Word of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus, and they must be saved from their sins first. You must know without fail exactly what the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Bible speaks of means.
When priests gave sacrifices in the Tabernacle, they had to wash their hands and feet at the bronze laver. If they had approached God without washing their hands and feet at the laver, they would have been put to death. So the laver of bronze was critically important to the priests. That’s because the priests could wash away their uncleanness with the water in the laver. For today’s people also, when it comes to believing in Jesus, they must believe in Him with the knowledge of the gospel that contains the righteousness of God. Jesus obeyed the will of God, which was to wash away all people’s sins of the world through the baptism that He received from John the Baptist. Jesus carried the sins of the world to the Cross. In the Bible, the two indispensable elements that are absolutely necessary to manifest the righteousness of God are the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross.
 
 
The Gospel of Truth That Can Overcome the Sins of the World
 
It is written in 1 John 5:5-6, “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ.” Do you have the belief that Jesus is the Son of God? Jesus came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man. Jesus was baptized by John and crucified by Roman soldiers, and has thereby become the Savior of all sinners. Jesus came to sinners by water and blood. He came not only by blood, but by water and blood. He came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man to deliver sinners from their sins. And by being baptized by John the Baptist, He accepted all the sins of every sinner onto His own body.
Why was Jesus baptized by John the Baptist? He was baptized to make all the sins of the world pass onto His body. It is because Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist that He had to be crucified and shed His blood to die on the Cross. It is because Jesus had taken upon the sins of mankind that He shed His blood and died on the Cross to end the judgment of sin. By taking upon all the sins of mankind on His own body and sacrificing Himself, Jesus became the propitiation for our sins.
Through the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross, the salvation of mankind was completed. God has thus saved all those who believe in Jesus as their Savior from all the sins of the world. Jesus has not saved us with just the blood of the Cross alone. Jesus was crucified after accepting the sins of the world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. The baptism Jesus received and the blood He shed on the Cross were more than sufficient to blot out all the sins of this world and to bring the remission of sin to every believer. Therefore, you must believe in both Jesus’ baptism that washed all the sins of the world and the blood that He shed on the Cross.
This is the way of Truth that came from God and that saves mankind from all its sins. The Bible says that there are three witnesses testifying that God has saved us from our sins: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son” (1 John 5:7-9).
Therefore, if one believes only in Jesus’ blood on the Cross, then he can never say, “I have no sin.” You need to realize the Word of Truth that whatever is bound on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever is loosened on earth will be loosened in Heaven. In the Book of Hebrews, God said, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). This means that the Lord will reveal Himself to the saints who eagerly wait Him. The word ‘saint’ here is used to refer to a holy person who has no sin and who is dwelt by the Holy Spirit. God the Father is with the Holy Spirit and He allows the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to the saints.
When Jesus was baptized and shed His blood on this earth, the gates of Heaven were opened (Matthew 3:16). Yet because people do not know that Jesus has completed everything to blot out the sins of the world, the gates of Heaven still remain closed in their hearts. God the Father has completed the salvation of sinners from their sins through the baptism His Son received and the blood He shed on the Cross. You must believe in the gospel of the baptism and blood of Jesus, and of the Spirit. Why? These constitute the righteousness of God. If you believe in the gospel of the righteousness of God, you, too, will become His child.
 
 
The Righteous Wrath of God
 
God’s righteousness has washed away all your sins as white as snow. However, God’s justice will condemn everyone who does not believe in His righteousness. Just the thought that our God is truly just is enough to make us tremble in fear. God brings justice to the whole earth. The only way for us to escape from the judgment of the righteous wrath of God is to believe in the gospel that has remitted away mankind’s sins through the water and the Spirit. God made it clear that He would bring down His wrath on everyone who does not obey His righteousness in his or her disrespect. All human beings must therefore look for the gospel of the righteousness of God and find it. They must believe in it with their hearts. That’s because the gospel of the righteousness of God is the most faithful gospel.
 
 
From the Fearful Wrath
 
Where must a sinner find his salvation from sin? If we all deserve the wrath of God, if this wrath is poured on us according to the amount of our sins, and if the consequences of the sins committed in this life are revealed as His wrath, then how can we, who cannot help but commit sin throughout our lifetime, ever escape from this wrath?
The only way of escape is the faith placed in the baptism of Christ and His blood on the Cross, which accepted all the wrath of God in its entirety. This is the righteousness of God. How can anyone escape from the wrath of God without believing in His righteousness? No sinner can ever escape from God’s wrath, and the result of not believing in God’s righteousness is to treasure up His fearful wrath on one’s own head. Every sinner must believe in the righteousness of God and be saved from all his sins. The righteousness of God will then become his righteousness. The Truth that makes it possible for sinners to be saved from the fearful wrath of God is the righteousness of God.
 
 
You Can Attain Eternal Life by Believing in God’s Righteousness
 
“Who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’:”
God is merciful, but He is also strict to sinners. To all those who live by legalism, do not believe in His righteousness and stand against it, God will render His retribution for their sin. However, even though this sin is a sin that stands directly against God, people do not realize just what a grave sin it is to not believe in God’s righteousness and instead insist on their legalistic faith before God. But our God will render His judgment to each one according to his faith. All sinners must realize that they will be condemned for their sin. There is no exception.
The Bible speaks about two ways that are open to everyone: One is the way to receive the remission of sin and eternal life by believing in the righteousness of God, and the other is the way to be accursed by standing against God’s righteousness with one’s own human righteousness. Here in verse 7, “those who by patient continuance in doing good” refers to those who believe with their hearts that the righteousness of God has remitted away all their sins. God considers it as goodness when people believe in His righteousness. On the other hand, He considers it evil when people do not believe in His righteousness with their hearts. To which side do you belong? Do you believe that God’s righteousness has saved you? If not, then you are on the path that stands against God’s righteousness in order to front your own righteousness of man.
The choice is now yours. Which of these two paths will you choose? Depending on which road you choose, from the paths of believing in God’s righteousness or standing against it, you will either receive the blessing of everlasting life or be accursed forever. The Bible states, “Those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29).
Even if you are standing on the way that stands against the righteousness of God, some of you may have the mistaken hope that this path would somehow continue on to eventually reach the Kingdom of Heaven that you all desire to enter. There is no such a result, however. Those who maintain this kind of faith cannot have faith in the righteousness of God. They are rejecting to rely on the righteousness of God by pursuing their own virtues instead. They believe that their own merits will somehow bring happiness, fulfillment, and even salvation to them in this life. But they cannot put even a step into Heaven. You must recognize the fact that if you are walking on the fallacious way to front your own righteousness of man, then the end of this path is your destruction.
Strangely, even though some travelers admit that they are on the wrong road, instead of giving up and embarking on the right road, they erroneously hope that they would somehow reach their destination if they take a byway down the road. In the realm of the physical world, this sometimes happens. But in the spiritual realm, such things cannot happen. The righteousness of man that pursues one’s own virtue always makes the righteousness of God move further apart. This is the truth spoken in the Book of Romans.
God’s righteousness is attained only by faith, not by acts. “Repentance,” metanoia in Greek, means to change one’s thoughts and consequently change one’s faith. True repentance literally means “to turn around.” The right repentance is for everyone to cast aside his own human virtue that he has been storing up and instead believe in God’s righteousness. Everyone absolutely needs to throw away his human virtue that he had been accumulating and pursue the righteousness of God.
God’s perfect will is to make us His children by giving us His righteousness. Faith begins by agreeing with the righteousness of God. The moment one discovers and believes in the righteousness of God, he has already become someone who believes in Jesus as his Savior. Therefore, faith is to believe in the baptism of Jesus and His blood. Jesus clothes such people in God’s righteousness and is always with them. As such, the more we know the righteousness of God, the more we realize that all our sins were already blotted out, and we are filled only with the glory of God, instead of the judgment of wrath. This is the right faith that believes in the righteousness of God.
“Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;”
It is because Christians believe in the gospel of the righteousness of God that they can endure and last through all persecutions. It is only by believing in God’s righteousness that one receives the gift of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whether or not one believes in the gospel of the righteousness of God while on this earth is what determines whether or not he would receive all the blessings of God.
If you, as someone who believes in Jesus, know the gospel of the righteousness of God and believe in it, then the blessings of Romans 2:7 will be yours. Those who do not believe in the gospel containing God’s righteousness, however, will be forever accursed. It is to those who believe in His righteousness and spreads the gospel that God brings glory, honor, and the great blessing of immortality. Therefore, anyone who wants to receive every blessing from God must engrave in the tablet of his heart the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in which God’s righteousness is revealed, and everyone must believe in this true gospel. If you believe in the righteousness of God, all His blessings will be yours.
“But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,”
Among Christians who profess to believe in Jesus, God said that He would bring His wrath and anger to all those who band together selfishly to stand against the gospel of the righteousness of God instead of believing in it. In today’s Christianity, those who profess to believe in Jesus often band together and stand against the gospel Truth that holds the righteousness of God rather than believing in it. Such people do not believe in the righteousness of God because they have more respect for the virtuous forerunners in their own denomination than for God’s righteousness revealed through Jesus. So they have come to stand against the righteousness of God. Such believers and the individuals who belong to such denominations are committing great sins against God. They will not escape from the punishment of hell. This is what God is saying.
“Tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;”
What is human wickedness before God? The greatest human wickedness before God is not believing in His righteousness. That’s because it is in God’s righteousness that mankind’s remission of sin, the love of God, was fulfilled. Thanks to the righteousness of God, human beings can now live with God forever. In other words, because it is in His righteousness that God has permitted all the blessings given to mankind. To not believe in this righteousness of God is man’s greatest evil.
The Apostle Paul said that because the Jews did not believe in the baptism and blood of Jesus that constitute God’s righteousness as the remission of their sins, tribulation and anguish were on them. For all the Gentiles in this world now, if they do not believe in God’s righteousness, then they will also be subjected to God’s wrath just like the Jews. As such, from now on, everyone must believe in the gospel Word of the righteousness of God and be freed from this fearful wrath, whether one is a Jew or a Gentile.
“But glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
What does it means by the words “everyone who works what is good” before God? There is no greater goodness before God than to believe in the gospel of His righteousness. Why? Because to believe in God’s righteousness is to accept into our hearts the remission of sin that God has given to us out of His love for us. All those who believe in the gospel of the righteousness of God will become His children and receive the glory, honor, and peace of living in the Kingdom of Heaven. You, too, must also believe in the righteousness of God and receive glory, honor, and everlasting life.
“For there is no partiality with God.”
God looks at the center of the human heart. Are you holding onto the Word of the righteousness of God in your heart? If so, then you have been clothed with the love of God’s righteousness. However, if you do not believe in the gospel that has become the righteousness of God with your heart, even as you go to church and claim to believe in God, then you will be hated by Him. In other words, if you know the remission of sin achieved through the baptism and blood of Jesus and yet still do not believe in it, then it is only a matter of fact that you would be abhorred by God. There is no partiality with God and He does not judge by external appearance. Everyone must have faith in His righteousness.
Those Who Commit Sin in Their Consciences
“For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law”
Those who perish before God are destroyed because they do not believe in God’s righteousness. No one can hide his heart from God no matter how hard he might try. If a person devotes himself to know and keep the Law of God only, and has no interest in the righteousness of God nor believes in it, then he will be forever put under the wrath of God for this sin of not believing in His righteousness.
Even if you have lived without the knowledge of God’s Word of the Law, if you had no interest in His righteousness nor believed in it, then you, too, will be subjected to the judgment of the wrath of God. For anyone who does not accept the love of the righteousness of God into his heart and only tries to establish his own righteousness, God demolishes and tramples on his faith mercilessly.
Human beings are judged according to the social norms when they commit wrongdoings in their respective societies. For example, the positive law is one of the concrete social norms. A judge passes judgment on a case according to the positive law of the society. In a court of law, the judge demands that all witnesses tell the truth and nothing but the truth. However, man’s judgment is reached based on partial truths at most, and if witnesses distort their testimony or testify falsely, a wrong judgment is reached irrespective of the real truth. On this account, God’s judgment is infinitely superior to man’s judgment. The righteous judgment of God is reached according to the sufficient knowledge and complete truth that are based on His righteousness. As such, no one can lie before God’s righteousness.
The Gentiles who do not have the Law come to recognize their sins from their consciences. They try to defend themselves based on the argument that unlike the Jews, they did not receive the Law, and they even agree with the justice of God that condemns the Jews. Through the Law, God had told the Jews how they should live, but they did not obey this Word. Even worse, they actually took a hypocritical stance on this Word. The Jews sinned under the Law.
But the Gentiles did not have the Law of God. How, then, could the Gentiles be condemned by the Law? How could they even be accused of sinning? Despite this, Paul stated, “As many as have sinned without law will also perish without law” (verse 12). God has given conscience to every human heart to function as His delegate. Therefore, for even those without the Law of God, their consciences play the role of the Law of God.
Paul said the following about the human conscience: First, the Gentiles do not have the Law that God had given to the Jews, but they still have the Law “written in their hearts.” Second, because the Gentiles have a conscience, this conscience tells them to obey the Law, and when they do not obey, it condemns them.
This is critically important. It means that everyone is under the Law of God, irrespective of whether one believes in God or not. Therefore, there is no one in this world who can say that there is no God, or claim not to know His Law.
“for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;”
This passage tells us that human beings cannot become sinless by keeping the Law of God. For the salvation of human souls, God has given us His righteousness apart from the Law. This righteousness of God is contained in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit.
By receiving the baptism given by John, Jesus accepted all the sins of the world, He died on the Cross, and He rose from the dead again, thereby fulfilling all the righteousness of God. It was to deliver His believers from their sins that Jesus was baptized and died on the Cross. This is the righteousness of God and His love. It is by believing in this Truth that we can become sinless. The remission of our sins is attained neither by keeping the Law nor by practicing it; but only by believing in the righteousness of God.
“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,”
In this world, there are far too many people who have no interest in God, nor even try to know Him, but only trust in their own consciences. But the Bible makes it clear here that there is no one who can claim not to know the Law of God and not to have received it. By giving conscience to the hearts of mankind, He has given them the ability to discern and distinguish good from evil. No doubt some people will say, “Since I am a Gentile, and since I did not receive the Law of God, I didn’t know what sin was. So I should be given another chance to believe in Jesus.” However, even if people claim not to know the Law of God, it is still clear that their consciences took up the role of the Law of God instead, and therefore they cannot protest to God and demand Him to give them another chance to receive the remission of their sins.
“Who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them”
The Law that God has given us is the basis upon which sin, good and evil are discerned, and each person’s conscience also constitutes this basis. The conscience of a man reveals what is right and wrong in his heart. Of course, it is not a perfect barometer of good and evil. So when the time comes for those who are ignorant of God’s Law to be subjected to the righteous judgment of God for their sins, they cannot excuse themselves claiming that they had not sinned and therefore this judgment is a wrong judgment. As such, everyone must believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that has become the righteousness of God.
 
 
The Righteousness of God Has Made Us without Shame
 
“In the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
Every sinner is to be condemned by God under His wrath because he does not believe that the remission of sin coming by the baptism of Jesus Christ and His blood on the Cross, which constitutes the righteousness of God, is actually His love for him. Christians and non-Christians alike, God the Father carefully judges them all for their sins according to whether or not they believe in the righteousness of God, and whether there is sin their hearts or not.
Even now, God gives out rewards and punishments based on the gospel of His righteousness. The writer of the Book of Hebrews declared, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). God discerns everything that’s in a person’s heart, and He judges according to His righteousness. The question, in other words, is whether or not there is God’s righteousness in our hearts, and whether or not we really believe in this righteousness of God. To those who believe in God’s righteousness, He gives rewards, but to those who do not believe in His righteousness, He brings condemnation.
The Apostle Paul called the righteousness of God “my gospel.” That is so true. Anyone who believes in God’s righteousness with his heart does indeed have the gospel Word; the very righteousness of God, in his heart. This is why Paul called it “my gospel.” Whoever does not have this gospel as “his gospel” in his heart does not believe in the gospel of the righteousness of God.
God knows all about whether we really believe in the gospel of His righteousness or not, and He remembers it. When the last day comes, He will dig it all out and judge accordingly. This is “the day when God will judge the secrets of men” that Paul spoke of here in verse 16.
Adam and Eve had nothing to be ashamed of. Before their fall, there was no sin, and their relationship with God was completely open as well. Whenever God came to the Garden of Eden to visit them, they rejoiced and talked with God freely. After the fall, human beings could no longer do this, and the reason for this was because of sin. The sin of mankind makes them hide from God. Just as Adam and Eve, after they sinned, tried to hide from God when He came looking for them, sin makes us hide ourselves from God. However, once the righteousness of God was fulfilled on this earth, human beings no longer have to hide from God because of sin.
Before Adam and Eve knew sin, they were not only free of shame before God, but they had no shame before each other, nor did they lie to one another. They did not blame each other with lies as they would try to shift their sin to each other later on. Nor did they harm one another. So there was nothing that they had to hide from each other.
Today, in contrast, complete openness is impossible in human relationships. Everyone has something to hide from others, even from his own spouse and closest friends. That’s because everyone is ashamed of himself, and everyone fears that the others would no longer love him or respect him if his flaws are exposed. But once the righteousness of God came to this world, there is no longer any need for us to be fearful before God for our sins. That’s because we now have the gospel of the water and the Spirit given to us.
 
 
God Has Made and Given Us the Garment of Righteousness
 
What would the fig leaves have meant for Adam and Eve? It signified the goodness of man. It meant that while the goodness of man can last only for a few days at most, the righteousness of God is forever. This is why we long for the righteousness of God far more than the righteousness of man.
Everyone must invariably believe in God’s righteousness. No one can escape from the judgment of his sins. The judgment of sin is inevitable and it is well evidenced. We all want to deny this, but we cannot deceive our hearts that are stained by our everyday lives. Human beings cover up their sins with their own goodness, trying to hide from the sight of others with their calculated behaviors. Such attempts only prove that compared to the righteousness of man, the righteousness of God is absolutely far more virtuous. However, the gospel of the righteousness of God declares that He will infallibly judge the sins of mankind. God does not just tolerate or forgive sin without any cost. On the contrary, He achieved the condemnation of sin in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ has fulfilled all the righteousness of God by being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and crucified (Matthew 3:13-17; John 19:28-30). The baptism and blood of Jesus Christ, and the righteousness of God, have already taken care of mankind’s punishment for its sins. Now, you must believe in this righteousness of God with your heart, and you must thereby put on the garment of God’s righteousness. Do not just wait for the day when God will reveal all your secrets and judge you. Believe in God’s righteousness now, and receive the remission of your sins.
 
 
You Who Call Yourself a Jew
 
“Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God,”
Jews and Christians took pride in the fact that they believed only in God. And they thought in their own way that it was proper for them to live according to the Law and rely on their faith of the Law. However, God said that those who do not believe in His righteousness and therefore still remain as sinners will all be subjected to the judgment of wrath because of their sins.
Therefore, although these people claimed to believe in Jesus as their Savior, they had nothing to be proud of. In other words, even if you say that you believe in Jesus, if you believe without the knowledge of the righteousness of God, then you have nothing to boast of. However, if you believe in Jesus with the proper knowledge of God’s righteousness, then you can be proud of this faith before God. A faith that knows and believes in the righteousness of God is a faith that you can take pride in. If you have this faith, that is, if you know and believe in the righteousness of God, then you are qualified to be proud of God’s righteousness before God. If, in contrast, you do not believe in God’s righteousness, then you have nothing but your own righteousness to boast. Anyone who boasts of his own righteousness before God will suffer because of his righteousness.
In the days of Paul, it was the Jewish people who were standing against God’s righteousness. That’s why Paul began this verse saying, “Indeed you are called a Jew.” Today, the people who belong to this category may include passionate Christians, fervent Catholics, and other “religious fanatics” of various religions.
Let’s imagine here what someone who does not believe in God’s righteousness might be thinking. Paul, hearing how the Jews were criticizing the morals of the Gentiles, rebuked them harshly. In doing so, Paul told the Jews to also believe in the righteousness of God just like the Gentiles.
Why did Paul tell the Jews to believe in God’s righteousness when they all believed in God after all? That’s because God does not want any religionists who do not know His righteousness, but He wants the justified that have faith in the real Truth. Before God, whether one’s heart has faith in His righteousness is far more important than whether he has become a Christian outwardly.
  
 
“Circumcision Is That of the Heart”
 
It is written, “For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:25-29).
Here, Paul made it clear that “circumcision is that of the heart.” We have become God’s sinless children by believing in the Word of the baptism and blood of Jesus, not by trying on our own through our own lawful works. It is by believing in the Word of God that we have become His children.
Do you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with your heart? Have you received the spiritual circumcision that cuts off all your sins from your heart and remits them all away forever? Does your heart have faith in the Word? Not just your acts seen by the eye, but do you really have this faith, that Jesus was baptized, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead again all for you? Based on what Word have you received the remission of your sins?
It is not just by attending church that one becomes a truly righteous person before God. It is by believing in the gospel Word where the righteousness of God is revealed. One receives the remission of his sins only by wholeheartedly believing in the written Word of the righteousness of God. Not only does the Book of Romans testify this, but the entire Scriptures of both the New and Old Testaments testify that one becomes righteous only by believing in the Word of the righteousness of God. As far as righteousness is concerned, it doesn’t matter to God whether people try not to commit sin or not; all are unrighteous no matter how hard they try to be righteous through their own effort. For us, there exists only the righteousness of God, and it is only this righteousness that is exalted.
If one really believes in the Word of God and receives the remission of sins, then he is saved from all his sins. The Bible says that God searches the heart and tests the mind. This means that when God looks at us, He looks at whether our hearts are right or not. In other words, God looks at the faith that is in our hearts. When God looks at our hearts, He looks at whether or not we believe in the baptism and blood of Jesus Christ as our salvation. What about you then? Have you really been remitted from all your sins by believing in the baptism and blood of Jesus with all your hearts? All of you must receive the remission of your sins into the heart and thereby be spiritually circumcised.
What did the Lord do to blot out all of our sins? Do you realize that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River? Did He not take upon all your sins through this baptism? Indeed, it was for you and me that Jesus was baptized and died on the Cross. It is Jesus who shouldered all our iniquities (Matthew 3:15; Isaiah 53:6). Through His baptism, Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of the world, whether committed outwardly or inwardly; that is, with our acts or thoughts. He bore all the iniquities committed by each and every human being. As a result of this, our souls as those who believe in this Truth have been brought back to life, and we are now able to follow the will of the Lord in joy because we believe in the Lord.
Speaking on the salvation of mankind, the Bible says, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Even when someone receives the remission of his sins by believing in the Lord’s Word, there are many times when his acts are revealed as far too insufficient. Our sins of the world have not been all revealed yet; on the contrary, they will be exposed even more later on. However, because Jesus took upon all our sins by being baptized in the Jordan River, and because He bore all our condemnation of sin on the Cross, we are sinless until the end, all thanks to our faith. If you believe in the righteousness of God, you, too, will be saved from all the sins of the world. The beginning of your faith in the righteousness of God is initiated when you believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinners. It is this faith that the Lord sees, and it is for this faith that He dwells in our hearts and leads us.
As it is written, “Circumcision is that of the heart,” it is by believing in the baptism of Jesus with the heart that one is saved from all his sins. The salvation granted by the Lord has nothing to do with our own acts. When one receives the remission of his sins into the heart, his mind is truly at peace. Because his faith has been approved by God, joy and happiness spring up in his rejoicing heart. When it comes to receiving this salvation, the remission of sin given by the Lord, it is absolutely necessary to believe in the Truth with the heart. I hope and pray that you would also believe with all your heart in the baptism and blood of Jesus, the righteousness of God, and thus receive your salvation.
“And know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law,”
This verse tells us that even those who profess to believe in God are prone to take the teachings of the Law as their own righteousness and brag about it. If human beings take the God-given Law as the standard of their virtue and actually practice it, then there would be no other moral statute in this world that is more perfect than this. That’s why hypocrites do not even try to believe in the righteousness of God, and instead occupy themselves trying to practice the Law of God only. They do not feel any need for God’s righteousness in their lives.
“And are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,”
This tells us that when one believes in the God-given Law, he can actually end up leading others into the gathering of Satan. Those who have legalistic faith, who believe in God’s Law and practice it, do shine in this world as a light, living as leaders who guide ordinary people to a religious life. However, their lives are like that of a firefly that shines light only for a while and disappears. Their own righteousness prevents them from believing in the righteousness of God.
“An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.”
The legalists believe themselves to be great teachers to this world. They believe on their own that they are quite virtuous people, teaching the people of the world properly. However, such people are fools who do not realize that they themselves are bound to hell before God.
“You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?”
Those who have the faith of the Law can be identified as Satan’s servants who, even as they themselves are incapable of being freed from sin, are hypocritically teaching others to escape from sin. Satan draws people with moral virtues and makes them disinterested in finding the righteousness of God. No matter how diligently one might believe in Jesus, if he does not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit and has not become sinless, then he has no spiritual qualification to teach others.
“You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?”
Those who have legalistic faith teach others with their practice of the Law, but they themselves are committing sin bound by their iniquities. Even as they are buried in sin, and even as they themselves will be punished for their sins, they do not realize that they are hypocrites. How on earth, then, could they possibly teach others to get away from sin? The reason why the Bible thus rebukes such people for their legalistic faith is so that they may also believe in the righteousness of God and return to the right path to God.
“You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?”
The legalistic believers not only are ignorant of the righteousness of God, but their faith is also incapable of glorifying God. It is not the Law of God that one should be proud of, but it is the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit containing the righteousness of God that one should believe in and be proud of. It is this kind of faith that gives glory to God and brings peace to mankind.
“For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ as it is written.”
Just as God was being thoroughly insulted by the faith of the Jews professing to believe in Him, He is also insulted by today’s legalistic Christians who claim to believe in Jesus faithfully. God was being blasphemed by the very people who claimed to believe in Him and yet had legalistic faith. That’s because those with legalistic faith did not believe in the righteousness of God. God was blasphemed because they were bragging to the people of the world how they were all good believers in God.
“For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.”
The faith of the Jews at that time and the faith of today’s Christians who do not know righteousness of God are both equally trapped in legalism. The Jews were Abraham’s descendants and were circumcised in the flesh marking them as God’s people. But the faith that they boasted of was a superficial faith based on their own acts. That’s why God said here that as soon as they break the Law, their faith dies also.
“Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?”
The pride of the Jews at that time was that God had given His Law only to them and to no other nations. As the chosen people who kept the Law, they considered themselves fundamentally different from the Gentiles, and they believed that their nation was worthy of pride. If, however, today’s Gentiles can keep the Word of the Law which even the Jews could not keep, then they are more like the Jews. In the same way, if the Jews could not keep the Law of God, then they were more like the Gentiles who did not believe in God. In the end, because the faith of the Jews in those days was premised on their acts of the Law, they believed that whether they were God’s people or not was determined by whether they were able to keep the Law or not.
“And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?”
The faith of the Jews of that time was all about trying to keep the God-given Word of the Law. So here Paul is asking rhetorically, if the Gentiles kept the requirements of the Law by believing in the righteousness of God, then wouldn’t the Jews be judged by the Gentiles?
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;”
Who are the spiritually circumcised people? Just because one’s outward appearance looks like a Jew does not mean that he is a real Jew. In other words, just because someone attends church well, it does not mean that he is a faithful Christian who believes in God properly. It is only those who believe in the righteousness of God that are the truly circumcised saints of God. Whether one believes in God properly or not is determined by whether or not he believes in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit where the righteousness of God is revealed. Therefore, we cannot call some people as God’s own people just because they believe in God somehow and attend church regularly. Those who have really become God’s people are only those who have received the remission of their sins into their hearts by believing in the righteousness of God.
 
 
“Circumcision Is That of the Heart”
 
“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
Who are those whose faith is approved by God? They are the ones who have washed away all their sins by believing in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that contains the righteousness of God. The people of faith whom God approves are the believers in His righteousness. Just because someone attends church regularly and does virtuous deeds outwardly, he cannot be described as someone who is approved by God. Only when one obtains the righteousness of God by believing in the baptism of Jesus, His blood, His death and His resurrection, where God’s righteousness is contained, is this person someone who has the right faith that enables him to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Just as it is written, “Circumcision is that of the heart,” salvation must be reached in the heart by believing with the heart. The Bible says that circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter. It also says that its praise is not from men but from God. When it comes to receiving the remission of our sins, we must receive it into our hearts. If we do not receive it into our hearts, then our sins are not remitted. Everyone has outer and inner sides, and it is his inner self that must be remitted from his sins.
Speaking to the Jews, Paul said that “circumcision is that of the heart.” Where, then, were Jews circumcised? They were circumcised in a certain body part. Yet despite this, the Apostle Paul told the Jews that “circumcision is that of the heart.” This means that the Jews were circumcised only outwardly. Therefore, just as the Apostle Paul told them that they should be circumcised in the heart, only when we are circumcised in the heart do we become God’s people.
The Apostle Paul is saying that we must receive the remission of our sins into our hearts, not by being circumcised outwardly, but by being circumcised in our hearts. In Romans 3 Paul says, “What if some did not believe?” and this means, “What if some did not believe inside with the heart?” The Apostle Paul did not talk about what is outside. Because he said that circumcision is that of the heart, we need to reconsider our own faith here from this passage. We need to examine ourselves once again to ascertain through what Word we have received the remission of our sins, and if in fact it is in our hearts that we have been remitted from our sins.
The Apostle Paul asked in Romans 3:3, “What if some did not believe?” By this, he was asking, “What if the Jews, the children and descendants of Abraham, did not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior? Will it make the faithfulness of God without effect?” In other words, would the Jews’ unbelief invalidate the perfect salvation by God, the salvation of the remission of sin that has blotted out all the sins of the descendants of Abraham as well as all the sins of the Gentiles? No, that is not the case.
The Apostle Paul said that the Jews and the descendants of Abraham can also be saved if they believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and as their Savior who has blotted out all their sins by taking these sins upon Himself through His baptism and dying on the Cross in their place. This means that the grace of God, the salvation of the remission of sin through Jesus Christ, is not nullified.
Paul said in Romans 3:4, “Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: ‘That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.’” In saving mankind through His baptism and the blood, the Lord has fulfilled the salvation promised with His Word, and He has justified those of us who believe in this Word. Moreover, while He judges those who do not believe according to His Word, He enables us to overcome with His Word when those of us who have received the remission of sin are judged.
Romans 3:5 says, “But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?” The Apostle Paul said that his outer self was not clean, but it was filthy and bound to sin until his death. Not only the Apostle Paul, but everyone in this world commits filthy sins. Like this, our outward selves commit sin until the day we die. But if God says that He has still saved such human beings, then we have indeed been perfectly saved by faith. Since God has saved us even though our outer selves are so insufficient, doesn’t this mean that He is truly righteous? “Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?” In other words, the Apostle Paul himself was not saved because his outward man was clean.
My fellow believers, for you and me alike, each of us has an outer self and an inner self. So when the Apostle Paul said, “Circumcision is that of the heart,” and “What if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?” he was addressing the heart, telling us that we all have outward selves and inward selves. Our outer selves commit sin and fall into weaknesses under different circumstances. If our faith makes us righteous or sinful depending on the acts of this outward self—that is, if we base our faith on the acts of the outward self—then this kind of faith is not the true faith.
The Apostle Paul placed no expectations on his outer self. Those who have received the remission of their sins also have the outward self and the inward self, and when we look at our outward selves, we can only be disappointed. Sometimes our outer selves seem upright for a while, but other times we discover just how thoroughly weak our outward selves are. Therefore, the Bible says that our outer selves were crucified with Jesus Christ by being baptized into Him (Romans 6:3). In other words, our outer selves have died. Jesus Christ told us that He has blotted out all the sins committed by our outward selves.
Even for us, the righteous who have been saved, when we look at our outward selves, more often than not we are disappointed by what we see. Yet even so, we still place many expectations on our outer selves far too often. When our outward selves are running well, there seems to be a certain hope, but when this is not the case, when our outer selves do not go according to what our hearts desire and instead run toward the opposition direction, then we stare at our outward selves and are thoroughly disappointed. Some righteous people even stumble because of this. They are disappointed by what they see from their outward selves, and think that their lives of faith are now over. But this is not right.
Our outer selves were already crucified and died with Christ. Even for us, who have received the remission of our sins, our outward selves’ still commit sin while living in this world. Is this sin then not a sin? No, a sin is a sin. What kind of sin is this sin then? It is a dead sin. It is a sin that was already crucified to death with the Lord, all thanks to Him. The problem is not that our outward selves commit sin while living in this world, but it arises when our hearts go astray. That our flesh is insufficient is not a problem before the salvation of our Lord.
Once we receive the remission of our sins, our insufficiencies are revealed even more. If we were to base our salvation on this—that is, the belief that we are justified if our outward selves do not sin and we revert back to being sinners if we sin—then this can only mean that our salvation is imperfect. If we were to base our salvation, the remission of our sins, on the deeds committed by our outward selves, then our hearts would deviate far into a completely different dimension from the kind of faith that Abraham had in God.
As the Apostle Paul said, “Circumcision is that of the heart,” it is by believing in Jesus Christ with the heart that we have been justified and become righteous people. Whether our outward selves can live according to the will of God or not does not determine whether we are righteous or sinful. However, since we human beings are living with both the outer and inner selves, the problem is that our hearts can change depending on which of these two our minds emphasize while living in this world. Too often we place emphasis on our outward selves. We become bold when our outer selves are upright, and when they are insufficient, we are disappointed and our hearts sink. The Apostle Paul made it clear that such kind of faith is not the proper faith.
If “circumcision is that of the heart,” then where is our true faith? In other words, how can we know the Lord and believe in Him with the heart? Jesus once asked the Apostle Peter, “Simon, who do you believe I am? Who do you think I am?” Peter then answered by saying, “Lord, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter believed this with all his heart. When Peter confessed his faith to Jesus, Jesus said to him, “You are right. He who has made it known to you is not you, but the Father.” In other words, Jesus approved Peter’s faith as the right faith.
Abraham had no legitimate child. God had led Abraham with His Word, and He had promised Abraham that He would give him a son. God had also blessed Abraham that He would make him the father of many nations, promising that He would be Abraham’s God and the God of his descendants for generations to come. He said to Abraham, “Therefore, you and your family, and all your descendants, shall be circumcised. The scars on their foreskin are the marks of the promise that I have become your God.” Abraham accepted all the Word of promise by faith. Abraham believed in God Himself, and he believed in His Word of promise. As a result, all these blessings did indeed accrue to Abraham.
This is also the case for us. Didn’t we also become righteous as a result of believing with our hearts that God is our God and our Savior? You, too, should believe this. It’s not because of anything else that we have been saved. We have become righteous by believing with our hearts that God is our God, and that He has blotted out our sins for us on His own according to His method. My fellow believers, it is by believing with the heart that we have been saved. This is why the Bible says, “With the heart one believes unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10).
What you should think about carefully here is this: If you believe that people can become God’s children through their own virtuous deeds, or if you believe that God has blotted out their sins, but they can become God’s children only if their flesh does not commit too many sins—if, in other words, you were to attach any condition whatsoever to the outward self for your salvation—then no one can ever become God’s child. Isn’t this so obvious? It is only by believing with the heart that we have become righteous. If God had attached any condition at all to the acts of our outward selves, even by 0.1 percent, then how could we ever become righteous? It’s impossible!
My fellow believers, because we are always insufficient in our flesh and in our outer selves, we can never reach the righteousness of God on our own. However, because our God has promised us that He would save those who believe with the heart, we have been justified before God by believing in the gospel of the Truth with our hearts. Seeing that we know and believe in His works with the heart—that is, we know and believe that Jesus took upon all our sins through His baptism and blotted them all out—our God has approved us as righteous and correct, as His people and His children, and He has saved us as promised.
God sees the faith that is in our hearts and then decides whether we are His people or not. Can you grasp this? We must clearly discern this by the Word of Truth. You must clearly separate your outward self from the inward self. Even after being born again, if you were to look at your outer self and judge whether your faith is strong or weak, or if you were to look at what your outer self does and decide whether you have received the remission of your sins or not—if, in short, you were to base your salvation on your outward self—then you can never receive the remission of your sins.
However, as it is written, “Circumcision is that of the heart,” you can be saved if you believe in Jesus Christ with your heart. Do you understand this? As the Bible says, “With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The Apostle Paul thus clearly distinguished the outward self from the inward self.
Our outer selves are completely worthless. Everyone’s outer self is simply appalling. There is no need to mention Abraham here. Just look at our own outward selves. We are atrocious. Our flesh schemes with all kinds of tricks in our thoughts. Our inner selves, our flesh, are so selfish that we constantly ask ourselves, “How can I ensure my interest? How can I win? How can I be exalted? How can I fill my belly?” If we were to judge and condemn everything our flesh does with our thoughts, then we would have to condemn ourselves a dozen times in just a day. Such a judgment, however, is a rebellion before God.
Before, when traitors were caught, they were executed for sedition. But our God, who knows all about our nature, both inside and outside, looks over our outside and sees only our hearts’ faith. The Father asks us, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior with all your heart?” It is by looking at this faith of the heart that God has saved us.
Let us examine your thoughts here. You can believe in God with your thoughts. In other words, you can believe in Jesus with your thoughts of the flesh. You may think, “Oh, so this is how God has saved me.” However, you cannot be saved with your thoughts. Our thoughts are always wicked and constantly changing. Isn’t that the case? We may think this way or that way, and our thoughts are always liable to change from being realistic to unrealistic. Let’s try to summarize the fact that Jesus took upon our sins in the Jordan River with our thoughts. Sometimes we think, “Oh! So that’s what happened. Jesus took upon all my sins in the Jordan River,” and we believe it. But other times, when we see our flesh that is constantly sinning, we think, “Am I really without any sin?” Because human beings cannot trust their own wavering thoughts, they are incapable of accepting the Word of God into their hearts. As long as they rely on their own thoughts, they are unable to believe with the heart how God has saved them. When they think about it, they cannot actually find any conviction.
Therefore, those who live their lives of faith with their thoughts are not founded on the Word of God. It is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged” (Romans 3:4). We must base our salvation on the Word of God. The Word of God was incarnated and came amidst us. Fundamentally, God Himself is the Word, Jesus Christ is the Word, and the Word came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man. That’s how He saved us and then ascended to Heaven. This Word was spoken to the servants of the Old Testament. God had it written, and according to this Word, Jesus Christ, God Himself, came to this earth and fulfilled the Word. By having this Word written as well, God now reveals Himself through the Word and saves us through the Word.
In spite of all this, human beings are still unable to rely on and believe in the Word of God. Sometimes they think they are saved, and other times they can’t comprehend with their thoughts and therefore are unable to believe. With our thoughts, it’s impossible for us to receive this perfect salvation. Because our own thoughts are constantly changing, and because our thoughts are not the truth, we cannot be saved by relying on our own thoughts. That’s why the Apostle Paul said in the Bible that this circumcision is that of the heart, meaning that it is by believing in the Truth with the heart that we are saved.
What about your heart then? The heart can believe because the Word of God testifies the Truth clearly. God made it unmistakably clear with His Word how He promised to save us in the Old Testament and how He has now saved us in the New Testament. Because this Word is the Word of God, if one believes in it with the heart, then he will be saved. It is by believing with the heart that one is saved and turned into a child of God.
Because God acknowledges the heart’s faith, if only one would believe in Him properly, he will be saved. However, God does not acknowledge our faith based on our thoughts. The faith of thoughts is a faith that is built on sand. It is by believing with our hearts that we have become God’s children, not because our outward selves tried hard with our own acts. Also, what is clear even in our logic is that we have become God’s people and His children by believing in His Word with the heart.
What about you then? Do you also believe with the heart? Have you circumcised your heart? Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior with your heart? Is the imprint of what Jesus Christ has done for you found in your heart? Not the imprint seen by the eye; but is this Word, that Jesus has saved you perfectly, really engraved in the tablet of your heart? In other words, based on what Word have you received the remission of your sins, and is this Word in your heart? None other than this is to be saved by faith.
My fellow believers, it is without a doubt by believing in the Word of God that we have received the remission of our sins. Yet because our outward selves are insufficient, we see these insufficiencies and are disappointed by them. Not only do we just end at this disappointment, but we base our faith on our outer selves, judging for ourselves whether our faith is great or small. This is a serious misunderstanding of the Truth. We must not place the standard of salvation on the acts of the outward self. The core message of not only the Book of Romans but of the whole Word written in the Old and New Testaments is that we are justified by believing in the Word of God with the heart. The Apostle Paul said, "Whether you sin or not, this doesn’t have something to do with God’s divine nature; and even if you do not commit sin, this doesn’t glorify God at all.” Whether our outward selves commit sin or not, what does this have anything to do with God, and how does this add or lessen to the glory of God?
Therefore, our true faith and our perfect salvation are received only by believing in the Word of God with the heart. However, when our hearts are misplaced, our faith will go astray. On the other hand, when our hearts are upright, our faith will walk in the right path. If one’s faith is upright, his acts are also upright. But because human beings are insufficient, it is still possible for flawed acts to arise. What God is telling us here is that He looks at the center of our hearts. Our God searches the heart and its center. He looks at whether our hearts’ faith is upright or not. When God looks at us, He looks at whether we truly believe with the heart or not. Can you grasp this? When God looks at our hearts, He looks at whether or not we believe in Jesus Christ with the heart. My fellow believers, do your hearts really have faith in Jesus Christ?
When God looks at you, He looks at whether or not you believe in His righteousness with the heart. He then looks at whether the center of your heart is upright or not. We need to reflect upon and examine our hearts before God. Just as God said “circumcision is that of the heart,” it is our hearts that God looks at. God looks at whether or not you know what is right before God with your heart, and whether or not you seek to follow what is right. God looks at whether or not you have faith in your heart, whether or not you seek to follow God with your heart, and whether or not you really believe in His Word with your heart.
For you to have the proper faith that is approved by God, it is indispensable for you to clearly know what Jesus Christ has done for you and believe in His works with the heart. There is a certain denomination that has recently claimed that the brothers and sisters in our Church are not saved. These people argue that the Word of God should not be interpreted as it is. They asked one of our brothers when exactly he was born again, and he gave them a ballpark figure, saying that he heard the Word sometime in late summer last year, believed in it, and was then born again. They then insisted to our brother that if he could not remember the exact hour, day, and month when he was born again, then he was not born again at all. This so-called “the Salvation Sect” in Korea purports to explain everything scientifically, including how one is born again and on what day the Lord would return. Of course, if we were to trace back the exact date when we were born again in the heart, this is all eminently possible. We can tell them the exact hour, day, month and year. However, even if we could not remember this, if you and I now believe in the Lord with the heart, then you and I are truly saved.
Our Lord took upon Himself all our sins by being baptized in the Jordan River. He was then condemned by dying in our place. Wasn’t He wounded for our transgressions, and wasn’t He bruised for our iniquities? Didn’t He take upon all the iniquities that our outward selves commit? Sure He did! He took upon all the sins that our inner selves commit also. This is how our souls have been brought to life again, and we can now follow the will of God wholeheartedly by believing in this Truth. This is something that only the saved can do.
What does the Bible say? It says that our acts are terribly insufficient at all times, even after we received the remission of sins. Even now, these insufficiencies have not been all exposed yet. There is more to be exposed down the road. However, if you believe with the heart that God is your God, and believe that Jesus, God Himself, took upon all your sins in the Jordan River through His baptism and bore all the condemnation of these sins on the Cross; and if you believe in what Jesus has done for you with your heart, then you are indeed saved.
Those who talk about and believe in all this nonsense about the time and date of salvation, who claim that they believe in the Word because it is scientifically proven, and that it is only when one believes in this way that he has the perfect faith—these people are not saved. God made it clear that it is with the heart that one believes unto righteousness. Like this, you and I must believe with the heart that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Do you believe so? Amen!
It is from this that faith begins, and it is from this that the Lord guides our hearts. And He approves this faith as upright and righteous, saying, “You are righteous. You are My people. I am your God.” From then on, God blesses our hearts, and He wants us to follow Him with this faith of the heart that believes in Him. And when we do indeed follow the Lord our God with this heart of faith trusting in Him, our God leads us personally and blesses us.
It is written, “Circumcision is that of the heart.” It is by believing with the heart that we have attained our salvation. Countless people on this planet profess to believe in Jesus and claim to have been saved, and yet they still bind their hearts with the acts of their outer selves. They ask themselves, “Are the acts of my inward self upright?” When this is not the case, they then ask, “Did I give prayers of repentance properly?” Relying on such things, they try to reach their salvation by mixing the faith of acts and the faith of the heart. This, however, is not salvation. They may firmly believe that this is their salvation, but it is not.
Our unmistakable salvation is to reach righteousness with the pure, truly unadulterated heart that is completely set apart. It is to become righteous people. It has absolutely nothing to do with our own acts; not even by a shred. When your heart receives the remission of sins, you will become so joyous and thankful that you will want to do good deeds without any prompting. You will want to serve the Lord, to bear witness, and to do what is truly good and beautiful. It’s because you believe with the heart and your heart is approved by God, that your heart will become beautiful filled with joy and happiness. That’s because God would have approved your heart, and this is why it’s so important to believe with the heart.