Pastor David B. Curtis


Torah of the Heart

Romans 10:5-11

Delivered 04/01/2012

We are back in Romans 10 this morning. Let me just remind you that Romans 9-11 is a theodicy, a defense of God. I believe that this is the greatest vindication of God's righteousness and justice found anywhere in the pages of Scripture. This theodicy is necessary in light of what Paul had taught in the first eight chapters of Romans. Over and over in Romans 8 Paul has applied to the Church the blessings originally promised to Israel. Israel was promised the Holy Spirit, but this promise has been received by the Church. Israel was promised a future resurrection, but Paul speaks of the resurrection of believers. Israel was God's son, but now believers are God's adopted children. Israel was promised an inheritance, but now it has come to the Church. Israel was God's chosen people, but now believers are called "chosen." With the application of so many of Israel's promises being received by the Church, the question that arises from the Jews is, "Has God gone back on His promises to Israel?" Notice what Paul says:

For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, Romans 9:3 NASB

Paul was implying by this that they were no longer the people of God. Paul was saying that Israel was no longer blessed, but they were, in fact, now cursed. He says he wished he could take the curse for them. To say that the nation is accursed is not to say that God's promises have failed:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; Romans 9:6 NASB

Paul is saying that God's promises haven't failed, because God never promised unconditionally to each offspring of Abraham covenant blessings. God never intended that all of the nation Israel would be redeemed. Paul is saying that there are TWO Israel's. Within national Israel is "True Israel" or "spiritual Israel." So one could be an Israelite without truly being an Israelite. The promises were to "true Israel," not national Israel.

So who is true Israel? Jesus is the true Israel! It is in Him, and Him alone, that the promises of God are fulfilled. True Israel is Jesus Christ and all who trust in Him. We could say, "They are not all 'in Christ' who are physical descendants of Jacob."

Therefore, the unbelief and rejection of ethnic Israel as a whole in no way interfered with the fulfilment of God's covenant purpose and promise.

We ended our study last time with:

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4 NASB

Christ is the termination of the Law for covenant membership to everyone who believes. You can be a covenant member of the New Covenant without having or obeying the 613 commands of the Mosaic Covenant. Christ is the goal of Torah, so that all who have faith, all who are in Christ Jesus, may have righteousness and life.

Verse 4 is explained by verses 5 and following. N.T. Wright says, "This is one of the hardest little passages in all of Paul."

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. Romans 10:5 NASB

The "for" here is gar, which connects it with the previous paragraph. "For" shows the connection by way of explanation. Paul uses that connecting particle six times in these verses. Each builds on the other. Paul is quoting here from:

'So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:5 NASB

Now you may ask, "How does this explain Christ being the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes?" To answer that we need to look at Galatians 3:10-14, which also quotes Leviticus 18:5 and has a very similar sequence of thought:

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM." Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM." Galatians 3:10-12 NASB

Paul cites this text as proof that the governing principle for law-keepers is works, not faith. If one chooses to live under Law, then he must operate within the governing principle of works, while one who chooses grace must live by faith. How is it that God can give us salvation on the basis of simple faith in Jesus Christ? The answer is in:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"-- in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:13-14 NASB

No one could keep the Law perfectly, and so they were to rely upon the sacrificial system God gave them, which was to be received by faith. How else could it be received? How in the world does the blood of an animal take away sin? Well, it doesn't. But if you place your faith in God, who uses that lamb to represent the One who will come to take away your sin, then that sacrificial system becomes your way to life, based on faith.

So Leviticus 18:5 says, "A man may live if he does them." But Paul says what "doing" means when it comes to the New Covenant. It means trusting in what God has done, it means that God in His grace brings His salvation to you:

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." 8 But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, Romans 10:8 NASB

This passage is a quotation from Deuteronomy 30. The context of the previous chapters is talking about the people of God being given the Law, but also being warned that if they don't obey the Law they will be exiled. Exile is part of the covenant. Remember that Romans 9-11 is a theodicy defending God's righteousness. And the question arises, "How is God keeping His promises to Israel when they are in exile?" We must understand that Israel being in exile is not a going back on the promises God made to them, it is one of the promises to Israel. Notice what Daniel says:

"Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. Daniel 9:11 NASB

Daniel says that because of Israel's sin the curses have been poured out on them. God had promised that if Israel sins she will be sent into exile as a covenant punishment. But after the exile there will be renewal or restoration.

Leviticus 18:5 says, "A man may live if he does them." And in the New Covenant God has put His word in our hearts so that we may do it. This is what Paul has hinted at earlier in the Epistle:

for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. Romans 2:13 NASB

Paul clearly says the doers of the Law will be justified. What does he mean? We know he is not pushing a works righteousness. And I don't see it as hypothetical. So, who are the "doers" of the Law? Is it the Jews? Notice what Peter says:

"He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:11-12 NASB

Peter sites here from Psalm 118:22 with a slight difference. He adds "by you"--referring to the Jewish leaders. The rulers, the "builders" of Israel, have rejected Jesus, therefore, they were NOT doers of the Law. They rejected the Christ, but God has made Him the cornerstone of the New Israel, which holds the whole building together.

So who are the doers of the Law? Listen carefully, a doer of the Law is one who believes in Jesus Christ. Listen to what Moses told the Israelites:

"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. Deuteronomy 18:15 NASB

Moses urged the Israelites to accept and believe in the promised Messiah. Faith is required by the Law, and faith is the sole means of union with Christ whose righteousness vindicates us before God. Paul goes on to say:

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, Romans 2:14 NASB

The key to understanding this verse is translation. The NASB's "instinctively" is a bad translation of the Greek word phusis (fo-zees). We could translate this, "When Gentiles who do not physically have the Law, do the things of the Law." Paul uses this word phusis to refer to the possession of the Law, not with the doing of the Law. That is those who do not have the Law naturally--in other words Gentiles. Paul is here distinguishing between Jews who are born with Torah, and Gentiles who by nature or birth do not have the Law. Yet these Gentiles are doing the things of the Law.

They don't have the Law, but they do the things of the Law. How is that possible? They are Gentile Christians, they have trusted Christ, and the requirement of the Law is fulfilled in them. Notice what else Paul says:

So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Romans 2:26 NASB

What do you see in this verse that is strange, almost comical? How can the uncircumcised man keep the requirements of the Law when one of the Law's requirements was that you be circumcised? The Gentile Christian, who is physically uncircumcised keeps the requirements of the Law by faith in Jesus Christ, which shows that he has been circumcised in heart.

The phrase "the requirements of the Law" in 2:26 is the same Greek phrase as in:

so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:4 NASB

All that the Law required, including circumcision, is fulfilled in us (Christians) by the Spirit through our union with Christ. Christian faith is the real covenantal keeping of Torah. Even if those Christians have never heard of Torah.

Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. Romans 3:27 NASB

What kind of Law excludes boasting? The Law of works doesn't, if you work, you have something to boast about, but the Law of Faith does, because faith is a gift of God.

We saw in 8:1-11 this Law in now fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. And finally in 10:5-11 we now see that the Law, which is in the Gospel, is put on our lips and in our heart. The Torah is the God given badge of the people of God which enables them to worship the One and only true God, Yahweh.

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." 8 But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, Romans 10:8 NASB

Paul is quoting here from Deuteronomy 30, which follows the chapters in which Moses lists the covenantal blessings and cursings. He lists the blessing that follow obedience in 28:1-14, then in 28:15-68 he lists the curses. The final and most emphatic curse is--any body know, want to guess? It is exile!

"It shall come about that as the LORD delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the LORD will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. "Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. "Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. "So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. "In the morning you shall say, 'Would that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, 'Would that it were morning!' because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see. "The LORD will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I spoke to you, 'You will never see it again!' And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer." Deuteronomy 28:63-68 NASB

Yahweh warns that Israel will be cursed, she will be driven out of the land, scattered among the nations of the earth. It is assumed that all these things will come to pass:

'Therefore, the anger of the LORD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book; and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.' Deuteronomy 29:27-28 NASB

While Deut 28-29 anticipated Israel's unfaithfulness and judgment resulting in her exile, the nation was also given a promise that she would be restored to her inheritance when she returned to Yahweh. Deuteronomy 30 is a prediction of the return from exile:

"So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. Deuteronomy 30:1-3 NASB

By "return and obey" is meant to believe the Gospel. If they turn to God in faith, He promises to bring them out of exile and to circumcise their hearts:

"Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6 NASB

Who is doing the work here? It is God who is circumcising the hearts and causing them to love Him. What does that sound like to you? This is the promise of the New Covenant. It sounds like Jeremiah:

"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33 NASB

God puts His Torah in the heart in the New Covenant!

In Deuteronomy 30:11-14 we find the passage that Paul quotes in Romans 10:6-8. Paul is explaining that this life-giving "doing" will not be a matter of struggle to obey, because it has all been done for us in Christ. And all who believe in Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, are fulfilling the Law.

"For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 NASB

Moses talks about the commandment. Each time Moses refers to the commandment being easy and near, Paul substitutes Christ.

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down), Romans 10:6 NASB

To be high and afar off was a Jewish way of saying something is unattainable. That which is impossible with men, God has already done in Christ!:

or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." Romans 10:7 NASB

Again Paul puts Christ where the commandment was. The "abyss" is the place of the dead, the netherworld, or the underworld--the place where no living person can go and return. Who can descend into the abyss to bring Christ up from the dead? Don't waste the effort! You cannot do it, but God did! In that statement Paul encapsulates the work of Jesus Christ from His Incarnation to His Ascension.

Paul saw these verses pointing to Christ. He put Christ where the commandment was because Christ is the true Israel who kept the Law perfectly:

But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, Romans 10:8 NASB

In the New Covenant God plants His word in our hearts. Paul says, it is the word of faith "which we are preaching." That's why it is "near you." It doesn't involve effort on your part, you must just believe the Gospel. Paul then explains the word of faith:

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10 NASB

These are two of the most famous and familiar verses in the Word of God. If you have ever taken a course on evangelism these verse were most likely used.

"Confess" is from the Greek word homologeo, which means: "to say the same thing." To confess that Jesus is Lord is to say the same thing about Him that Yahweh does, and the Gospel does and the Bible does.

"Jesus is Lord" totally identifies Him with Yahweh, the God of the Old Covenant. First century Jews understood this more clearly than perhaps many of us do. They did not use the title "Lord," lightly. So sacred was the divine name, "Yahweh," that the Jews would not even utter it. They substituted "Adonai," or "Lord" for this One who created, sustained, and redeemed them. So when a Jew made the confession, "Jesus is Lord," he was declaring that Jesus is God the Creator, the God of the covenants, God who has come to us personally, the God who has redeemed us by His own substitutionary death.

In the early church the phrase "Jesus is Lord" was one of the most common and simple expressions by which believers confessed their faith in Christ (cf. Acts. 2:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; 12:3; Phil. 2:11). It is a confession very similar to Israel's basic confession of faith in Yahweh:

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB

We could say that the confession "Jesus is Lord" is the Shema of the Church.

In the book, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era, James Jeffers writes:

After Julius Caesar strengthened his grip on Rome so that he essentially became dictator, the rest of the Roman emperors followed his lead. In the eastern part of the empire it was common for people to deify their rulers, so as the early emperors began to claim the title of kyrios or Lord, they fell right in line. The western portion of the empire had more difficulty swallowing this but over time, the will of Caesar prevailed. Temples sprang up throughout the empire to show honor and allegiance to the emperor by worshiping him as "Lord." Being good polytheists, they still worshiped other gods, so they had no qualms about coming yearly to the emperor's temple to offer incense or make a sacrifice and utter the confession, "Caesar is Lord." Even the coinage of the time often identified Caesar as lord or as Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of the Roman religion. (James Jeffers, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era, 151)

To the Christians is was not Caesar who was Lord, it was Jesus! And many of them died because they would not say that Caesar is Lord.

"And believe in your heart"--Paul has talked a lot about "belief" or "faith" in this Epistle. Belief is understanding and ascent to a proposition. Heart is the thinking process. To believe is to think that something is true. Here the truth believed is that "God raised Him from the dead"--the resurrection from the dead proved that Christ was and did all He said He was and said He would do.

What did the resurrection mean to the Romans? In the Roman world, Caesar had the power of death. Threats to Roman rule were mercilessly crushed. Everyone in the Roman world knew that the cross had a clear symbolic meaning; it meant that Caesar ruled the world, with cruel death as his ultimate and regular weapon. The problem, from the standpoint of Roman rule, is that Jesus didn't stay dead. The resurrection demonstrates that the true God has a power utterly superior to that of Caesar. Rome crucified Jesus. But God raised Him from the dead and made Him LORD!

In essence, what you're believing is that Jesus is the incarnate God who came into the world as God in human flesh, lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary death, went into the grave and conquered death, came out the other side having purchased salvation for us.

Do we have to publicly confess Christ to be saved? Some will say, "Yes" because the text says, "If you confess with your mouth." They say that that means you do it publically. Does this mean that you can believe in Christ but you are not saved until you publically confess Him? How many people do you have to confess him to? One? One Hundred? Unfortunately, there are many who have come to think that the way to be saved is to believe in your heart, and then in the presence of a group of people make a public profession of faith by raising our hands in the meeting, coming down front, and acknowledging in front of people that we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not what Paul is talking about. He didn't know anything about a church meeting in which "Just as I Am" was sung at the end of the meeting, and people invited forward to confess publicly their faith in Christ.

The reason for the emphasis upon belief and confession is related to the quotation from Deuteronomy 30:14 where both the mouth and the heart are mentioned. To the Jews the mouth had to do with meditation. The Hebrew word for "meditate" is hagah. Hagah means: "emit a sound, murmur, mutter, speak in an undertone." For the Hebrews, meditation was not silent. Several texts clearly support this contention that meditation was normally verbal, that is, expressed in spoken words:

My mouth will speak wisdom; And the meditation of my heart will be understanding. Psalms 49:3 NASB

The Hebrew parallelism indicates that what is spoken with the mouth is the same as "meditation."

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalms 19:14 NASB

Here "words of my mouth" parallels "meditation of my heart." This idea is further seen in the words of Joshua:

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Joshua 1:8 NASB

In this context "meditate" is defined by the command, "The Law shall not depart from your mouth." This negative way of speaking implies a strong positive.

These passages give insight into what meditation involves. Meditation is the outward verbalizing of one's thoughts before God, of the pouring over His teaching and works. It means to articulate thoughts of worship, wonder, and praise.

Can you be saved if you do not confess Christ? This is a big debate between the Lordship camp and the Free Grace camp. If you say that "confess" means to agree with what God says about Christ, then I would say you must confess Christ to be saved. But if you say that confess means to publically acknowledge Christ, then I would say, "Yes, you can be saved and not confess Christ." Let me attempt to back this up:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-31 NASB

This tells us that the reason for the writing of the Gospel of John is so that people will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing that they will have eternal life. John has a lot to say about belief. But let's go to chapter 12:

"While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light." These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. John 12:36-37 NASB

Jesus is calling men to faith, but the Scripture says, "They were not believing in Him."


They didn't believe because they could not believe because God had hardened their hearts. Now watch the next verses:

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. John 12:42-43 NASB

Despite those who did not believe, many of the rulers believed in Him. John only uses this of those who trusted in Christ. To believe is to be saved. So these rulers were saved, but they were not confessing Him. This is the same Greek word as in our text in Romans. They were not publically confessing Him for the same reason many of us don't, they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24 NASB

These rulers heard and believed; thus they had eternal life, but they did not confess Him. The Gospel of John and the rest of the New Testament teach that a person is given eternal life on the basis of faith alone. It's not about confessing, commitment, sacrificing, it is about faith and faith alone.

What if I'm wrong? What if the Free Grace view that I am espousing is not correct? Let's think about this. If I'm wrong, what damage could this view possibly cause? If the Free Grace view is wrong, it could cause people to think that they are saved when they're really not. It could be giving false hope to unbelievers. So what? Do you believe in election? Will the elect of God ever be lost? No! Will the reprobate ever be saved? No! So, in my opinion, the worst that the Free Grace view will do is give false hope to the reprobate.

If the Lordship teaching is wrong, what harm can it do? It can cause a believer to think that they are not redeemed because of sin in their life. This view can bring the elect under guilt and condemnation. It can cause a believer to give up on Christianity by making him doubt that he really is saved. Notice what Jesus said about those who harm His flock:

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6 NASB

The Lordship view can hurt the Church of God by causing Christians to live in guilt and doubt. But the worse that the Free Grace view does is give the reprobate false hope. As I see it, only the Lordship view is harmful to the Church. We all must admit that neither of these views can change the destiny of the elect. Selah!


Notice that it doesn't say, Whoever believes in him and confesses Him will not be disappointed.

Paul quotes here from Isaiah 28:16. He's already used this verse in chapter 9:33. It's a Messianic declaration of the coming of Christ through the use of metaphorical language. He is called "a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone…firmly placed." Then Isaiah declares, "He who believes in Him will not be disturbed." In 9:33, Paul joins this passage with Isaiah 8:14 that speaks of the Messiah as "a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over." While some will stumble over Jesus Christ through unbelief, others will believe in Him. None who believe in Him will be disappointed!

"Disappointed" conveys something happening outside of us that lets us down. So the question might be posed, "Will God let us down?" "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed." He will not let us down! Here is a statement of assurance that, as believers in Christ, we will stand before God without disappointment.

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