Romans 9:30-33. What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
In Romans 9-11 Paul is laying out both his argument for salvation through faith in Christ and his heart for his Jewish brethren. What is God doing? Has he abandoned the Jews? Is he only saving the Gentiles now? But more importantly, how are we saved? Who can be saved? Are you saved?
In Romans 9:30-33 above, he is contrasting the Gentiles and the Jews. The Gentiles have attained righteousness by faith. The Jews pursued the law in order to achieve righteousness.
Why wouldn’t the Jews just believe like the Gentiles? Because of what, or should we say WHO you have to believe in – Christ. For the Jews, Christ was a stumbling stone, a rock of offense.
Have you tripped over this Rock? Has he offended you? Is he offending you still today? I hope so.
Why is Jesus a stumbling stone? Because Christ, and Christ in you, demands that you reject all notions of your own righteousness. Your own ability. Your own goodness frankly. To come to Christ, and to be in Christ, is to live a life of humility. A life absent of focusing on your own ability to keep the law in order to earn righteousness.
Once we have allowed Christ to offend us, only then are we ready to allow him to become our only source of honor – whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.
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What part of Christ offends you? Offends your self-righteousness? Your pride? Your desire to figure it out on your own? To do it on your own? Offends the part of you that grabs tightly and yells, “MINE!?”
Where is Christ causing you to stumble? Where are you still trying to gain approval by your behavior or law keeping? Where are you claiming righteousness that is not yours to claim? Where are you blind to sin? Where are you equating religion and tradition with Christ himself?
What do you do when you are criticized? What drives you to discouragement? Vengeance? What practices make you feel more acceptable to God? Less acceptable? What things entice you more than Jesus does? What is your reaction to suffering? To temptation?
Is your faith truly in Christ alone? Or is it in your pursuit of law keeping? Do you believe that Christ’s full righteousness has been credited to you by faith, or do you believe that your righteousness comes and goes depending on your behavior?
When you start to answer these questions, you will see where Christ is offending you. Your answers to these questions expose the places where you are not trusting Christ. Wherever he is not your cornerstone, he is your stumbling stone.
“To live is Christ” means that the righteous requirements of the law have been met in us. So now, when Christ trips us up, he picks us up. When Christ offends us, we humbly submit. Now we have Christ as our cornerstone and we will never be put to shame.