Law vs Faith Approach To God: Romans 10:5-8
“5) For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6) But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7) or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8) But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,” Romans‬ ‭10:5-8‬
Paul now contrasts two radically different ways key figures in the Old Testament approached God The first was the works approach based on the Law. It can be pictured by Exodus 19 and the giving of the Law. When God came down on the mountain, He sent Moses to warn the people to consecrate themselves, but keep a distance under penalty of death. Legalism always separates from God, creates barriers and brings condemnation. Unlike Moses, they did not yet know God.
But then in Romans 10:6-8, Paul points to a faith based approach to God practiced by some Old Testament people. Ironically, he even quotes Deuteronomy 30:11-14 to establish this approach. As he explains it, he zeros in on faith as the key to this relationship with God. In this approach, people simply establish an intimate relationship with God in their heart. They accept Him by child like faith.
I would argue that David had this kind of relationship with God and it started when he was a young shepherd. Many Psalms present his faith walk with God, but Psalm 23 absolutely nails it; “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” and it goes on to lay out his profound faith relationship with God. David loved Gods Word and the Law. It helped him understand the holiness of God but never dampened his relationship with God. He had a deep inner faith relationship with God that was rooted in his heart.
In the next few verses, Paul uses a heart connection with God as the basis of salvation. (See Romans 10:8-14) He defines it as saving faith or belief. Note that it is rooted in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. (Vs 9) It is far from a works based religious system. The two are polar opposites.
If you choose to build a legalistic walk with God, you will forever be like the children of Israel sitting at a distance as Moses went up to the mountain to meet with God. When he delayed, they quickly got distracted and turned to other gods. Such is the story of many in our churches today. Religion not anchored in a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ will never lead to salvation or intimacy with God. It is religious but empty.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global