For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
I read this verse and wrote it down. I know it meant something to me but I wasn’t quite clear on how to explain it.
I struggled with the second half, “and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
The reason for my confused feelings towards this second half was “with the mouth” or talk.
Talk is cheap.
I read the second half and think of all who profess Christ loud and clear and yet, as I try not to judge, look at their deeds and actions. I think about all those who profess and confess Christ so loudly, as if the louder they say it, the more the listener will believe that they believe. I think about how saying is one thing and doing is another.
You can’t talk your way into heaven.
The second half of the verse seemed to be contrary to what I believe.
Matthew 6:1 came to mind:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Christ is not only saying don’t run around professing your righteousness which is quite meaningless, but when you do what is righteous, keep quiet about it.
I tried reading various commentaries by both theological scholars of old and some contemporary scholars but didn’t find any real resolution to this conflict.
The more I thought about it and as I wrote this piece I came to this conclusion.
When Paul wrote these words to his fellow Roman citizens, being Christian meant being subjected to prosecution by both the Jews and the Romans. So to stand on the corner and confess Christ as king and savior meant incarceration and or death. And not a pleasant incarceration and a very, very painful and horrible death.
In those times one did not stand up and say look at me I believe in Christ, for any kind of self gain, or to try to make others think they’re such a good person, or just to make themselves feel good about themselves. One didn’t profess and preach for profit, because there was no earthly rewards.
If you did confess Christ as your king and savior you risked your life.
Truly Christ and God had to live in your heart. First and foremost God had to be in your heart, for if God truly wasn’t in your heart, who would risk their life? You really did put your money where your mouth is.
Today there is much profit in confessing Christ as king and savior. For many it makes them feel OK about themselves if they say it. Today it’s easy, no real consequences. Oh maybe the media and some on social media my give you a hard time but compare that to being fed to lions or nailed to a cross.
I don’t think the words of Paul are telling me to round around saying, “Look at me, I love Christ, look at me I love Christ!”
Paul is telling me that God and Christ must live in your heart. When God and Christ live in your heart then righteousness is in your heart. With righteousness in your heart your words and actions truly do confess this righteousness. Your confession is through the righteous words that find the way from your heart to your mouth and to your actions.
Paul is saying you must be justified before you can be saved. Without it, without God living in your heart your words are hollow. Your words are simply words.
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