The Hope of Righteousness
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Paul has fully demonstrated the fact that the justification of Gods elect is free and complete, that it is entirely detached from and is in no way connected with our own obedience to the law, and is received by faith alone. In the opening verses of this chapter he calls for all who know this righteousness, for all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ, to stand fast in the blessed liberty of grace. That liberty is the perfect and complete freedom Christ has, by himself alone, obtained for us by his obedience and death as our sin-atoning Substitute. He has, as the great Head and Surety of his church, redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
Therefore, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). We are free in Christ. Let us cherish and stand fast in that blessed liberty our Savior has obtained for us. He has, as our Surety and Representative, answered every demand of Gods holy law and justice. He has paid our debt for every sin, suffered our penalty for every breach of Gods law, and thereby completely satisfied divine justice for us. As our Surety, he has magnified the law and made it honorable (Isa. 42:21). Upon the basis of his finished work of righteousness and redemption, he says to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that sit in darkness, Show yourselves (Isa. 49:9). We are not under the law, but under grace (Rom. 6:15).
The whole church of God, therefore, and every individual soul of that church, is delivered from the curse of the law: from guilt, from sin, from the accusations of Satan, the alarms of conscience, unbelief, and all the whole train of evils of a fallen state. And it is the privilege of all the church of God to behold themselves in Christ, perfectly holy in him. For Christ and his church being one, what Christ is in Gods sight so must the church be. And, as God hath declared himself well pleased in him, the church is included in this view, and is holy and without blame before him in love. (Robert Hawker)
Every child of God is freely, fully, completely holy in Christ before God. We are eternally accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6). He was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin (1 John 3:5). Yet, we are (in ourselves) sinners still. We still carry within us the body of sin and death. In the new birth God the Holy Spirit created a new nature within us, but our old, Adamic nature is unchanged. That old nature is altogether unholy. All that is evil in the world is in us by nature. We feel the assaults of sin. We groan and mourn under the weight of inward corruption. We are ever at war within ourselves. As Paul stated it, we delight in the law of God after the inward man; but we constantly find that when we would do good evil is present with us, and we cannot do the things we would (Rom. 7:14-23).
Christ has freed us from all the condemnation due to sin, but not yet from its inward corruption. He has freed us from the penalty due to our sins, but not yet from the sorrow of sin. Christ has conquered sin, death, hell, and the grave for us, and has made us more than conquerors in him. Yet, so long as we are in the world, we must struggle against sin in our members. We know, by constant, painful experience the horrible evil that is within us.
Yet, in the teeth of all the wickedness that is in us and that which is done by us the Spirit of God calls for us to Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The terrors of the law have nothing to do with the sinner who is justified by Gods free grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It is written, If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:1-2). There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
This liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free is unspeakable, blessed liberty. It is written, Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). It is this liberty given by Christ through the indwelling of his blessed Spirit that causes Gods saints in this world to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Knowing that we are freely, fully, completely justified by Christ, by faith in him we have peace with God and confidently anticipate the glory that awaits us (Rom. 4:25-5:5).
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (v. 5). We who believe in Christ by the gift, grace, power, and operations of God the Holy Spirit do not look for and expect heaven and eternal happiness through any law-work performed by us, but through the righteousness of Christ received by faith, under the influence and testimony of the Spirit of God.
It is God the Holy Spirit whose office and work it is to convince chosen, redeemed sinners of the righteousness of God brought in for sinners by the obedience and death of our all-glorious Christ (John 16:8-11). When he reveals Christ, he works faith in the heart by convincing Gods elect of their own sin, of righteousness established, brought in for them and imputed to them by Christs obedience in life, and of judgment (condemnation) finished by his obedience unto death.
Until God the Holy Spirit has revealed Christ in us and convinced us of his righteousness, causing us to cast aside all our own imaginary righteousness, being satisfied and delighted with Christ and his righteousness, we can never know this blessed liberty. But when the Spirit of God comes in saving power and grace and reveals Christ in the heart, the chosen, redeemed sinner is delighted to cast off all his carnal hopes and trust Christ alone as The Lord our Righteousness. Then, ceasing from all our works, we rest with full assurance of faith and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. This is the meaning of our Saviors words in John 16:14 He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. When Paul speaks here of the hope of righteousness, he is not referring to the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by which we are justified, as if our justification and righteousness before God is something yet to be hoped for, or as if to imply that we are not yet complete in Christ (Col. 2:9-10). Not at all. Our righteousness before God was established, wrought out, and brought in by Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness. It is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, being revealed and applied to Gods elect by the Holy Spirit. It is put upon us and imputed to us by the Father. This righteousness is something that is the present possession of all who believe on the Son of God. It is written, Ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 6:11). Christ is made of God unto us righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). Righteousness before God is not something we have in hope, but in hand.
The righteousness of faith is not something we hope to have in the future, but something we have already received. It is called the righteousness of faith, not because faith performed it, or established it, but because faith receives it from God (Rom. 5:1-10). This is that righteousness in which we stand and in which we shall ever be found.
The hope of righteousness is the confident, eager, assured hope and expectation of eternal glory with Christ, secured to us by that perfect righteousness that is ours in Christ. Because the righteousness of Christ is ours, because we are assured of that fact by the indwelling Spirit of God by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, we are assured of our inheritance of eternal glory with Christ as the children of God. In fact, the Holy Spirit is himself the seal and pledge of that inheritance (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30).
The only basis, foundation, and assurance of our hope is the righteousness of Christ. We know that none but those who are perfectly righteous shall enter into heaven (Rev. 21:27). Because Christ is our righteousness and we are made the righteousness of God in him, we eagerly wait for our eternal inheritance upon the ground of justice as well as grace. John Gill wrote
Waiting for it supposes it to be certain, real, solid, substantial, valuable, and worth waiting for; which, when possessed, will be with the utmost pleasure, and be abundantly satisfying; and that the persons that wait for it have knowledge, and at least hope of interest in it; and do highly value and esteem it, having their hearts set on it, and looking with contempt on the things of time and sense, in comparison of it.
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love (v. 6). In Christ law-work means nothing. Everything Paul says about circumcision is equally applicable to everything men attempt to join with Christ for righteousness. Though circumcision was the solemn ordinance of God in the Old Testament, those who observe that rite or do anything else to obtain righteousness before God are saying that Christ is not enough, that he has not fulfilled all righteousness, and that his obedience and death were meaningless. They do, in effect, make Christ to be of no effect. They have totally departed from the gospel of the grace of God. Like the Jews of old, they, being ignorant of the righteousness of God in Christ, go about to establish their own righteousness and refuse to submit to Christ alone for righteousness. They have not yet learned the sweet meaning of that blessed assertion of the gospel Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth (Rom. 10:3-4).
In the church and kingdom of God the only thing that matters is faith in Christ, that faith that God the Holy Spirit has wrought in and given to every believer, that faith that constantly works and operates upon the basis of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The love of Christ constraineth us (2 Cor. 5:14). This is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
Faith in Christ shows its existence by love to God and to men. Faith is not a mere intellectual assent to revealed truth. It is that which reaches the heart and controls the affections. Faith is not dead, but operative. It is manifest in kindness and affection. Religion without Christ, all law based (works based) religion, leaves the heart cold and hard, judgmental and harsh, constantly stirring up strife and division, causing its adherents to look down their noses at others and say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me: for I am holier than thou (Isa. 65:5). Faith in Christ causes men to know themselves, and that makes them esteem their brethren better than themselves in love. Faith causes saved men and women to be gracious, kind, long-suffering, forbearing, forgiving, and charitable in attitude and in deed. As James puts it, Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).
The love of God shed abroad in our hearts in Christ, not the law given at Sinai, is the believers rule of life. We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear. We no longer require the rule of fear. We have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Rom. 8:15). The Holy Spirit working teaches us to love our God and one another. Nothing inspires devotion like liberty. Find a child who is thoroughly happy, and you will see a child who seeks to please his parents, one who looks upon his duties as light, easy, and delightful things. Find one who is miserable, and you will see one whose every duty is like an iron chain upon him. Law is bondage and death. Grace is liberty and life. Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). If you attempt to live by the law, you cannot do otherwise. If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law (Gal. 5:18).