The dispute about circumcision I referred to in my last post was an argument about how someone comes into a positive relationship with God. On the one hand it was the contention of those who focused on obeying the Law of the Old Testament that people come into proper relationship with God through a combination of trusting Jesus and acts of obedience to God. On the other hand, Paul contends that it is faith in the forgiveness of Jesus alone that puts us in a positive relationship with God and no other act of obedience is required.
Once again Paul turns to Abraham, pointing out that it was through faith not works of obedience Abe was declared righteous.(Which just means in right relationship to God) God promised Abraham and Sarah would have a son. Abraham believed God would do it and then that trust or faith in God was counted as righteousness for Abraham. Paul is proving his point by showing Abraham as being saved by his faith in the promise of God. Paul’s insistence is that the Romans were similarly saved by faith not some particular religious obedience.
When we rely on how we live our life to justify us before God, we begin competing with everyone around to convince ourselves that we are better obeyers than them. The reasoning in our head is, “If I am better than Billy, then surely I am good enough to get to God.” That sort of competition leaves us constantly judging and putting down one another. The harmony Jesus brings puts us all on the same level saved by His work, not ours.