For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:2-4 ESV)
Depending on what circle you run in, being called religious can be a good or a bad thing. To some a religious person is someone who doesn’t drink, goes to church all the time, reads their bible every morning, and can even serve as a role model. While, to others a religious person is no fun, spends too much time at church, and wouldn’t approve of anything they do- especially if it’s fun!
The problem is that we look at a person’s religion through their actions. If they do a lot of good things then they are religious. And often, with this “religiousness” we apply a righteousness. Good deeds are good, but they don’t make us righteous. Only Jesus’ death on the cross can make us righteous.
The Jews at the time of Paul’s writing would gauge if they were pleasing God by following lists of hundreds of laws. If they kept enough, they would call themselves righteous, but in reality, Jesus’ imputed righteousness is the only real righteousness to be found! Our righteousness, when compared to God’s, is as a filthy garment (Isaiah 64:6). Jesus called the religious people of his day white washed tombs (Matthew 23:27). They might look good on the outside, but on the inside they were full of death and dead men’s bones. Look at your life and find areas you are looking to your religion for righteousness instead of Jesus’ work on the cross.
Good deeds are good, even biblical, but they alone can’t make us righteous.