“For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith”
Paul now points out the distinctions between grace-oriented believers and legalistic believers.
In contrast to those who fall from the grace principle, grace-oriented believers “eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” “through the Spirit.” Grace people do not look for perfection from works righteousness; instead, they eagerly anticipate a day when they will attain perfection.
we through the Spirit
It is the Holy Spirit who directs the heart of Paul and his associates toward the hope of righteousness. Legalism works through the power of self; grace works through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the divine side. Grace depends on God to work. There is a stark contrast in the method employed between legalism and grace. One depends on God and the other depends on self.
The Greek word for “eagerly wait” occurs seven times in the New Testament for Christ’s return (Romans 8:19, 23, 25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28). We “eagerly” wait because it is worth waiting for. That is why we anxiously anticipate it. When we possess it, we enter into its blessedness. We have not arrived yet. Jesus saved our soul but He will save our body in a future day. Until then, save your Anacin!
“Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).
for the hope of righteousness
God put His righteousness into us, gave us imputed righteousness at the point of our salvation. One day we will have another righteousness, a perfect, consummated righteousness when Christ comes to glorify us (Romans 8:18-21). That is our hoped-for righteousness, the object of our hope. In that day God will totally sanctify us to sin no more. Grace-oriented believers do look for perfection, not perfection in time but in eternity.
This hope of righteousness comes by “faith.” The word “by” means from, out of. The human side of grace is to exercise “faith.” Christ will provide perfect experiential righteousness when He perfectly conforms us to God’s will when He comes back. That is our confidence.
Grace-oriented people simply wait for the culmination of their perfection in Christ; they do not pretend to have it now.
Christians have received imputed or positional righteousness at the point of salvation. When Jesus comes, He will transform our body of flesh into a body like His glorious one. Then we will have perfect righteousness.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
Christians do not work for perfection; they wait for it. Their objective is perfection in eternity, not in time. Grace has no illusions about obeying the law.
What a contrast between the grace-oriented person’s hopefulness and the legalist’s hopelessness! We wait to receive all that the Lord purchased on the cross. Jesus justified us at a point in time so we do not hustle around trying to work for righteousness. We simply wait for the perfect righteousness He will give us in that day.
Legalism is a rat race because it is futile to measure up to God. No matter how hard legalists work, there is no end to it for they will never arrive. The harder they work, the deeper in debt they get. On the other hand, the grace believers rest in the provision of Christ. They do not need to work for righteousness because Christ did all the work necessary.