For Moses writes about the righteousness of the law, “The one who does them will live by them.” 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); or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)” 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: 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. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.”
We read here that it is true that Moses did say that a person could gain their own righteousness by The Law, but only if they would be able to actually live by The Law. In reality, no one was able to live by it and had to rely on the sacrifices.
The part that we read here about going up into heaven or going into hell, I believe, is just telling us that we shouldn’t try to take the place of Jesus by our own actions. Only Jesus was able to die for us and only He was able to go up to the Father. We can’t do what Jesus did and we shouldn’t think that we can. If we do, then an attempt to follow The Law will soon show how wrong we are.
What the Bible actually preaches is a message of faith in Jesus. It isn’t about us and how well we do. It is about Jesus and how well He did. If we believe in Him, we won’t be disappointed. If we trust in ourselves, we will be.
I wanted to take a minute to say that when Paul writes that you must believe and confess, I don’t think that he is saying that there are two requirements in order to be saved. I believe these are inseparable acts of belief. If we really believe we do confess that we are saved. They go together. You can’t be righteous but fail to be saved. You can’t not be righteous and still be saved. They go together and are not able to be separated. The world “believe” is often the key word that sums up all of the parts of salvation. This includes “repentance” which is also a part of believing although it isn’t stated separately from belief here.