Romans 10:8-13 - "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 confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
One of the fun parts of getting a new computer is all the reading material that comes with it, part of which is the obligatory troubleshooting guide in case you go to turn the machine on and nothing happens. Often times in big bold print there’s an 800 number listed, along with a reassurance to the effect of saying, “Help is just a phone call away!” But is the help really just a phone call away? Is someone going to be able to help you if you have a problem? What if I call the 800 number for help only to find out that the person who’s supposed to be helping me is sitting at some desk in Mumbai, India? Can that person really help me if they’re so far away?
One of the devil’s greatest lies is to convince you that God’s not going to be there to help you. He’s not going to give you what you need. He’s not going to watch over you. So you need to “take the bull by the horns” and go get what you want, no matter whether it’s God’s will for you or not. The interesting thing is that the devil throws that argument at us even when we’re facing his other temptations! When it comes to your daily battle with sin and temptation, the devil wants you to believe that you’re on your own—that God helps those who help themselves. Why is that? He wants you to think that when it comes to resisting temptation, you can be your own fortress. Sure God gives you some tools, but when all is said and done, it’s up to you.
The truth is far different, though, isn’t it? You and I both know how the daily battle with temptation goes. When we try to be our own fortress against the devil and his attacks we lose every single time. But there’s another truth the devil wants to keep from you. The daily battle of temptation is hard, yes, but the truth is: God’s help is closer than you think!
- God’s help is closer than you think: It’s in your heart.
God’s help is as close as close can be, in the power of the Gospel: “’The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (vv. 8-9). When you hear these words for the first time, it can seem like you’re the one who’s supposed to do all this believing and confessing. But look again at the start of the verse: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—these words aren’t meant to show you what to do! They’re meant to show you what God’s done for you—how His Word is right there with you, every step of the way!
The “word of faith which we preach” is the word of the Gospel: the good news of all that Jesus has done for you! Yes, we face the devil every day and lose—but Jesus won! And He didn’t just eke out a victory over the devil in overtime. No, Jesus’ victory was total and complete! He defeated every last one of Satan’s temptations, perfectly fulfilling the Law of God in the process. As the Son of God, Christ’s perfect obedience counted as our obedience in the sight of God; and then at the cross His blood paid the price for all of our sins.
This is the Word that, when it’s proclaimed, it actually goes into your heart! By the Holy Spirit’s power it touches your soul and creates faith that clings to Christ! Paul says, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness” (v. 10). Faith isn’t a work—it’s an empty hand that receives all the blessings God offers to you freely through His Son. And the highest blessing is His Son’s righteousness, the perfect obedience to the law that Jesus lived in your place. Faith not only believes in it—faith actually receives that righteousness! The Bible itself tells us that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him by God as righteousness (Ro 4:3).
And Paul here reminds us that whoever believes in Christ will not be put to shame, that, no matter who you are, the same Lord is rich to all who call upon him (vv. 11-12). He is rich in grace and mercy. So when we fail in the battle against temptation and sin, we can always turn to the Lord, knowing that His forgiveness trumps every sin that we can ever commit. The well of Christ’s righteousness never runs dry! God’s help is closer than you think!
And this is the truth that the devil wants to keep from you! And so he tries to hide it from you in any number of ways. One way in particular is by convincing you that what God’s Word says here is not gospel, but law. A popular acronym people like to use for the Bible is “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”—B-I-B-L-E. And that’s not a totally inaccurate statement to make because the Bible does contain a lot of instructions from God. But is that all the Bible is? Is the Bible just a rule-book, a set of instructions to help you figure out what to do? Or is the Bible the place you go to learn and be reminded of everything God’s done for you? Isn’t the Bible’s chief purpose to point you to Christ and what He did to earn your salvation?
That’s the help of God that you already carry with you in your heart: the help of faith, created by the Word of faith which was preached to you—the word of faith in Christ. And in your daily battles with temptation, God promises that His help doesn’t just remain in your heart.
- God’s help is closer than you think: It’s also in your mouth.
God’s help in the power of the Gospel isn’t just in your heart, it’s in your mouth too. When Paul says, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” he’s quoting Moses in the book of Deuteronomy, talking about how people learned the teachings of the Lord. They entered the heart by way of the mouth. As parents taught their children the truths of God’s Word, the children repeated them back. But at the same time, the Word wasn’t just in their mouths, the Holy Spirit was working faith in their hearts by it. The same Word works in both places, working faith in Christ in the heart along with confession of Christ in the mouth.
In other words, the Gospel empowers and enables you to confess the Lord Jesus: “’The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ … that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (vv. 8-9). To confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth means being able to give the reason for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus our Lord. And not just with your mouth, but with your entire life. To confess Christ means to deny yourself. To deny all those selfish, unholy desires for glory and pleasure for Jesus’ sake—because you know and believe that His death paid for all of your sins.
There’s a place for instructions and instruction books. But today being Valentine’s Day, which would rather get from a loved one: a copy of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”? Or a card that simply says, “How do I love you? Let me count the ways…”
There’s a place for instruction. There’s a place for seeing how Jesus was able to beat the devil and overcome his temptations: it was by the Word of God. That’s what he used to counteract the devil’s lies. That’s something that is important to know. But in your daily battle with temptation, isn’t it just as important, if not more important, to know that this battle—your battle—is already won? That Jesus won it for you that day when He battled Satan in the wilderness, and then again at the battle of the ages on the cross? When you know that, when you believe that, then you can stand and fight in your everyday battle—sure and certain that victory is yours!
You are never alone when you face temptation. You have a God whose help is always near because His Word is always near, putting faith in your heart and praises on your lips by the Word of His love and forgiveness. Love and forgiveness which are yours through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is “the end of the law unto righteousness for everyone who believes” (Ro 10:4). When you need help, you can call on Him anytime in the certain assurance that, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v. 13). Amen.