"What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 9:30-10:4).
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.' But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for 'the just shall live by faith.' Yet the law is not of faith, but 'the man who does them shall live by them.' Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:10-14).
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1-4).
What is "the righteousness of faith"? Does God require real righteousness? If so, what is the righteousness that God requires? Is this righteousness possible or is it only an ideal which we aim at and never attain to? Is it possible for us today to make Israel's mistake--seeking to attain righteousness by keeping the law--or did that only apply to them?
Are the Ten Commandments still in effect today? Are we made righteous before God by keeping them? Some say that the ceremonial and civil parts of the law have passed away, but that the Ten Commandments are still in effect; thus, along with the other nine commandments, we must keep the Sabbath. Is this true?
We want to look again at these questions, that the way of God may be made plain. The scriptures are very clear in these matters, but if we allow the natural reasoning of men to confuse us, we may find ourselves struggling to attain to the righteousness of God by our own efforts. The Galatians fell into that trap, and Paul told them that they had fallen from grace and had been severed from Christ. What could be more serious than that? These are critical issues, and we must not miss the way. Let us come before God with open minds and hearts, and He will not fail to show us the way to Himself.