The righteousness of God does not come through the Law because we all are sinners, there are none righteous, there are none good, and we all like sheep have gone astray and each one has turned to his own way. Many of the Jews were relying upon the Law (Romans 2:17) believing that they could attain to the righteousness of God through it. However and praise God, “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets" (Romans 3:21). If the only way that we could attain the righteousness of God and be saved was by the Law then none – I repeat – none would be or could be saved.
The righteousness of God does come through faith in Jesus (Romans 3:22) because this is the only way that God can give sinners the righteousness of God without violating His own righteousness. Now think about it with me – God didn’t have to save anyone; He could have righteously and justly sent everyone to hell. However, in order to save anyone there was only one way that God could do it and still be true – Penal Substitution. Someone who was willing and able had to live a perfect life fulfilling the commands of the Law and then die in the place of sinners to pay their penalty for committing crimes against the Law. So that Someone was Jesus Christ the Son of God and we read that God did not spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all (Romans 8:32).
So when we put these two truths side by side – the righteousness of God does not come through the Law; the righteousness of God does come through faith – then we come to the logical conclusion that the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ is only for those who believe – only for those who actually have faith in Jesus because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22-23).
Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God then all who attempt to attain the righteousness of God some other way or who think that they have faith but not the faith God is looking for will find themselves horrified on the day of judgment. All need the righteousness of God, which is on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ, but not all believe that they need it and not all have saving faith although many believe that they do.
That men are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone has always been God’s only way of saving. All the Old Testament saints were saved this way and all New Testament saints were and are saved this way. While there is such a thing as different dispensations in the way in which God does things – there never has been and never will be a dispensation where men are saved some other way than through faith in Christ. The point of Hebrews 11 is to show that there has never been a means of salvation other than faith in Christ.
But what is a major concern to me, especially in the day in which we live, is that there is such a thing as false faith, even in the name of Christ. Now this has always been true according to the Scriptures but it is also true according to the Scriptures that this will get worse before the return of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
Today there are people who have prayed a prayer, been baptized, joined churches, and claim to have faith in Jesus but their faith is false. False faith might be faith in good works, faith in a prayer prayed, faith in a denomination, faith in faith, or many other forms of faith misplaced. Many I am sure have head knowledge of the facts about Jesus and confuse that for faith.
But the saving faith in Jesus Christ that the Scriptures teach about is much more than a simple affirmation of certain truths about Christ. One can affirm certain truths about Christ – even His death, burial, and resurrection – and still not love Him and serve Him out of a heart of gratitude for what He has done on their behalf. This means that they have not made proper application with their sinfulness and their need for the righteousness of God that only comes through Christ who loved us and gave Himself up for us.
Those who have a false faith are all for being saved but not for being sanctified. In other words they are all for not going to hell but not all for parting with their sins. These are all for the privileges of Christ but not for being persecuted for Christ. They are for salvation from suffering but they do not desire to be saved from sinning. They would have Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. And yet how can one be saved from hell without being saved from sin and how can one be saved from sin without having Jesus as Lord? Even the Gospel these claim to be saved by, says, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
In order for faith to be genuine and saving faith one must see his sin, see his need to be justified by the righteousness of God, and see that it comes only as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. The person who has been truly saved knows for sure that there is no other way that God can or will save and he is thankful to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ for so great a salvation.
God only gives His righteousness to those who have faith and no man will arrive at the righteousness of God any other way.