At some point, every parent has heard their child say, “I can do it all by myself.” The determination to do something for ourselves is a necessary stage in our development. But in the spiritual realm, that attitude can be a problem. Those who opposed Paul’s gospel of grace wanted to replace it with a gospel where salvation depended on human effort. They also objected to Paul’s assertion that God had accepted Gentiles through Christ without requiring them to observe the law of Moses.
This message of grace was a stumbling block to Jews who could not understand how God could accept Gentiles who did not observe the law of Moses over those who had followed it for generations. Paul’s answer was twofold. First, he pointed out that God’s word to Israel had not failed (v. 6). The rejection of Jesus as their Messiah was evidence that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (v. 6). God does not accept us based on our religious heritage or family lineage. Ultimately, we can trace our acceptance by God back to God Himself. We belong to Him because He has shown us mercy (v. 14).
Paul compares us to a lump of clay talking back to the potter and telling him what he should do (vv. 19–21). He makes it clear that God is the ultimate source of salvation and its primary actor. Those who try to save themselves inevitably stumble over God’s acceptance by faith of those “who did not pursue righteousness” (v. 30). The only way to be saved is to turn from your own efforts and rely on Jesus Christ.
>> Are you tired of trying to “do it all by yourself?” There is only one path to righteousness. It is the way of mercy shown to us in Jesus Christ. Cease from your own efforts and put your faith in Jesus. The one who believes in Him will never be put to shame (v. 33).