3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness [provided by God],
The ignorance of the Jews in 10:1 is, in this verse, specified. The Jews did not fully grasp the absolute nature of God’s absolute righteousness. This does not mean they were not culpable; they should have known about God’s perfect righteousness. They viewed Him as relatively righteous and, by this, distorted a proper view of salvation.
“Righteousness” appears 33 times in the book of Romans (in various cognates over 60 times). The idea of righteousness is to most people an ethical virtue, but to the Old and New Testament it is a legal quality, a legal standing. The great issue for man is his legal standing before God. None of us can stand before God by our ethical behavior.
When we stand before the bar of God’s justice, He will measure us on whether we have been declared forever as right as He is right . The issue is whether we stand before God on human, ethical righteousness or the righteousness provided by Christ.
and seeking to establish [set up] their own [private] righteousness,
Jews sought to establish their righteousness by human effort, whereas God had already established it for them. They “set up” or erected a righteousness of their own, not God’s righteousness. Whenever people set up their own standard for coming to God, they will always miss the target of eternal salvation.
The chief error of the Jews was that they failed to see that there is no other way to stand perfectly before God than through faith in the Messiah’s finished work on the cross to forgive their sins.
God’s righteousness and man’s righteousness are different not only in degree but also in kind. Man’s righteousness has its source in the sin capacity inherited from Adam that rebelled against God. Mankind has erected a righteousness against the righteousness of Christ so they would not have to bow to His righteousness.
have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
The reason the Jews refused to submit themselves to God’s righteousness is that they were ignorant of the true nature of God’s righteousness and they tried to erect a salvation of their own making. Although they heard this message, they rejected it and substituted their own private system of salvation.
God’s righteousness has its source in God Himself. There is no other being like Him.
There are two different kinds of righteousness, ours and God’s.
It must be pretty nice to have a private class of righteousness whereby people can measure going to heaven on their own terms. However, human righteousness is simply a social virtue. God’s righteousness is holy, totally set apart from human righteousness.
People love to invent their own terms for salvation. They spin their own private schemes of salvation. Some are so satisfied with their own righteousness that they completely overlook God’s righteousness by grace. Acceptance of God’s grace requires the humility of submission to God’s scheme of salvation.
Establishing one’s own righteousness is a serious error because we can have eternal life only by God’s righteousness. Ignorance of God’s righteousness is the fundamental ignorance of man today.
Our righteousness in comparison to God’s righteousness is like wanting to take a shower minutes before we die. In a few hours the body will begin its decaying process. What good is the shower in that case? What good is human righteousness when one day we will stand before a perfectly righteous God, an absolute God?
This is why people resent the gospel. The truth assaults the sufficiency of human righteousness. Because of this, they will not submit themselves to the standard of the righteousness of God. The problem is not that they cannot submit but that they will not.