Paul was one of the greatest followers of the Law of Moses. He knew more about the Law than all his peers. But while he was promoting the Law and persecuting Christians, the Lord Jesus appeared to him and saved him by grace. For many years, the Lord Jesus taught Paul about the righteousness of faith by grace. Paul had to unlearn so much of his dependance on the law to know about grace by trusting in Christ – and he was still learning about grace even as an Apostle.
Philippians 3 ” 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh; 4 though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I yet more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless. 7 However, I consider those things that were gain to me as a loss for Christ. 8 Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith,“ 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death, 11 if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.13 Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do: forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.“
The Jews were trying to force Gentiles to get circumcised and keep the Law.
But Paul said that the believer in Christ is the true circumcision because the Holy Spirit circumcised/cleansed our heart by faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul said that all his self-righteousness through obedience to the Law was garbage compared to God’s righteousness received as a free gift by faith in Jesus Christ.
Every human being is a sinner, because of the sin nature we inherited from Adam.
Romans 5 “12 Therefore as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; so death passed to all men, because all sinned….17 For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous.”
But Jesus Christ came and never sinned, so that He gives us the FREE GIFT of Righteousness by faith in Him.
Under the law, righteousness was by “doing works”. But nobody could be righteous by their works because all people sin and fall short of God’s perfection.
Romans 3 “There is no one righteous, not even one …. 20 Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight; for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the law and the prophets; 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all those who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;”
The Law offered righteousness to those who did all the works perfectly. But nobody could do it. This is why Jesus came and fulfilled the law by His sinless perfect life and His death on the cross for our sins. He rose from the dead to give us His Righteousness and salvation freely to all who believe!
Romans 10 “3 For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they didn’t subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the fulfillment of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness of the law, “The one who does them will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness which is of faith says this, “Don’t 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 preach: 9 that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart, one believes resulting in righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed”
Salvation is not a religious formula attained by doing some work, or saying some magic words.
Believing in Jesus implies that we trust in Him and not in our works.
Everyone who believes in Christ, are forgiven all sins and made righteous freely without works.