It is impossible for people to earn for themselves a right relationship with God. It is impossible to live a life of perfect goodness. However, God is not asking people to do impossible things. Instead, God urges us to invite him into our lives (Revelation 3:20) and to accept his kindness (Isaiah 55:1-7). Then he will change our lives in the most wonderful way. Although we were formerly his enemies (5:10), he makes us into his children (8:14-17).
Paul was referring here to the lesson that Moses taught in Deuteronomy 30:11-14. However, Paul does not repeat Mosesí words exactly. Moses said that it was not impossible for the people to obey God. He gave two examples of impossible things: to rise into heaven, and to cross the sea. For Israelís people both of these were impossible. They had no boats; and they did not then have the skills to make or to use them. However, Paul was writing to Christians in Rome, which had a great navy and many ships. So, his two examples of impossible things are to rise into heaven, and to return from death.
To make these matters even clearer, Paul explains his meaning. For God to give us a right relationship with himself, two things had to happen. Christ, God the Son, had to come down from heaven to live among us. Then, he had to die for us, and become alive again. If we could cause Christ to repeat those actions, then we could earn for ourselves a right relationship with God.
However, it is not necessary, because Christ himself has already done these things. Therefore, we do not depend on our own efforts, but on Godís goodness. So, we believe and trust in Christ.
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© 2018, Keith Simons.