But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
The 1st century Jews understood the righteousness of God as being inherently tied to God’s faithfulness to His covenant people, the Jews. The Jews thought that their righteousness was linked to the fact that they were God’s covenant people. However, the law was only meant to be a tool that pointed them to God. The Jewish people thought that their possession of the law was enough to make them righteous, and yet Jesus told his disciples that their righteousness must surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom of God: For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20) In essence, Jesus recognized the Pharisees as those who were so caught up in the law and their own righteousness that they missed seeing Him as the fulfillment of the law. Paul clarifies to the Jews that now (note the word now) righteousness apart from law has been made known, and this righteousness comes from faith in Jesus Christ. (v.21)
Even today it is easy for us to think that we must earn our way into a right relationship with God. We learn this at an early age when we receive credit for the good things we do. But there is nothing we can do to earn salvation other than believe in the One who can save.
I surrender my life to You. I know that my righteousness is like a filthy rag. I thank you that I am righteous through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Forgive me where I have strived to “get it right” or to be in good standing with You apart from Christ.
In Jesus’ name, Amen