Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 9

Why we cannot gain a right relationship with God by our own efforts

Romans 9:32

Some people want God to approve of their actions. They are proud of their good works. They think that God should be grateful to them for those good deeds. For them, faith (trust in God) may seem a strange idea.

They are not trusting in God, but in their own efforts. They imagine that, by those efforts, they can earn a right relationship with God.

In the Book of Romans, Paul argues strongly against this idea. We must not complain about other peopleís evil deeds, as if we are completely innocent (2:1-5). All people have done wrong and evil things that are against Godís law (3:9-20). We cannot earn a right relationship with God; we must depend on Godís kindness (4:1-8). God showed that kindness when Christ died for us (5:6-8). So, we need to believe and trust in Christ - and that is faith.

Christ described himself as the true and living way to God the Father (John 14:6). It is by means of faith (trust) in him that we can know God. We may ask why anyone would ever want to try to find another way. The answer is that, often, people are not ready to accept Godís rule over their lives. Perhaps they will accept some kind of religion if they can choose the nature of that religion. Perhaps they are willing to obey Godís law, but not to love God truly (see Mark 12:29-31). People are desperate to have some kind of control over their own lives.

Paul compares them to people who trip over a rock. The rock is strong; if people depend on it (for example, as the base of their houses), it would make their lives stronger and better (Matthew 7:24-25). So, the Bible compares God to a strong rock (Psalm 62:1-2). However, if we will not trust him, we will only hurt ourselves.

Next part: We must trust Christ (Romans 9:33)


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© 2018, Keith Simons.