V5. In the law in Leviticus 18, God said to Moses that someone could obtain life only by being obedient to the law (Lev 18:55So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD.). In saying this, God indicated that someone can earn his righteousness by keeping the law. But no one kept the law or can keep the law.
V6. Now there is another way to get righteousness and this is on the principle of faith. One’s ‘own righteousness’ is out of the question. When we talk about faith, all of our works to get to heaven are excluded. At the end of verse 6 Paul strongly states that our works to get to heaven are a denial of the ascension of Christ. It is the same as saying: ‘Let Him come down again; I’ve no need of His work because I’ll accomplish it by my strength.’ But His work was necessary to give you God’s righteousness.
He has gone to heaven as proof that His work has been completely accepted by God. You wouldn’t say then: “Who will ascend into heaven?” Here is the thought of reaching heaven by one’s efforts. As long as this is being thought, the work of Christ is slighted and He is pulled down.
V7. And don’t say either: “Who will descend into the abyss?” This is to say you need to descend into the abyss to wipe out your debt with some kind of penance. This would be impossible. Who can ever descend into the depths of misery into which Christ descended? The one who tries this takes Christ up out of death, thinking Christ’s death for himself was unnecessary and he can satisfy God as to his debt by himself.
V8. But if you believe God’s actions are righteous, you’ll know that God in Christ has come very close to you. You don’t have to go to Him; He has come to you. He has come so close to you that He has laid His word in your mouth and heart. You have been saved because the word of faith has been preached to you.
V9. The content of the preaching is to confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe with your heart that God raised Him up from the dead. If you believe this, you know God no longer is against you and no longer has anything against you. On the contrary, He is for you.
The order is remarkable. First it is your mouth and then your heart. The mouth is mentioned first because your faith can only be observed by others in what they hear and see from you. You can’t say someone is saved if you don’t notice anything of it in his or her behavior and talk. The confession of Jesus as Lord is what it’s all about. It’s just not possible to accept Jesus only as Savior, as Redeemer from your sins.
A moment came in your life when you acknowledged you couldn’t save yourself and couldn’t exist before God because you had failed in everything. You failed because you were listening to a different master, the devil. And then, God showed you He has given over the Lord Jesus to death for your sins. The Lord Jesus has freed you from the burden of sin which you couldn’t bear. Aren’t you incredibly thankful for this? Now you’re His property. I hope others can see the Lord Jesus is your Lord.
V10. Of course, the heart is what it’s all about. With your heart, you believe unto righteousness. But it must become outwardly visible because it is with your mouth you confess unto salvation.
V11. Maybe you view your confession very poorly; it could have been a lot better. I wish I did it much better. But keep in mind what Scripture says: “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Faith has to do with trust. For your salvation, you have put your trust in God and no longer in yourself.
This trust gives you the strength to witness, because it is not self-centered, but God-centered. By reading the Bible, you’ll get to know God and the Lord Jesus better, and your faith will increase. The more you study the Bible, the more you’ll see it in your practice both in word and in deed.
Now read Romans 10:5-11 again.
Reflection: What is the relation between your mouth and your heart?