Circumcision of the Heart, The True Mark of A Child of God—Romans 2:28-29

"A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God" (Romans 2:28-29)

Even today as Christians, it is easy to replace the true intent of scripture for something man made. We readily assign rituals and regulations to follow in the name of Christ in order to ignore the objective of our heart behind it. It is easy to look at the natural realm of religion and therefore separate ourselves from relationship with God. To avoid this, we have to keep our heart in check.

Today's passage of scripture is powerful. Paul is saying that the condition of the heart is what makes someone a Jew, or part of God's chosen people... "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical." ( Romans 2:28 ) Paul is saying that circumcision is an outward sign of an inward reality. It is the condition of ones heart that makes them a child of God.

Circumcision dates back to Abraham, but Abraham received the mark of circumcision as a token or as evidence of the righteousness he had through faith before he was circumcised. That righteousness did not come by observing the Law because it was given before the Law was put into effect. His righteousness came from Faith, and his circumcision was a symbol of that faith. ( Romans 4:11-13 ) Therefore circumcision has always been a sign of the condition of the heart, but the Jews forsook the intent and focused all of their attention on the physical aspect of it.

Therefore Paul is clarifying that being a Jew is not because you were born into that nationality or religion. Being of God's chosen people comes through circumcision of the heart, which is spiritual rather than natural. This spiritual transformation comes about by being united with Christ and born again. It is by the Spirit that this happens not by the written code. Galatians 3:29 says, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." This leaves no doubt that the church is now God's chosen people on earth. Both Jews and Gentiles who have put their Faith in Jesus are part of the kingdom of God, our 'circumcision is of the heart, by the Spirit'.

Today, by believing in Jesus and putting your faith alone in Him, you have the circumcision of Christ. "In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ..." ( Colossians 2:11 ) This is the true mark of a child of God. Amen and So Be it!

The Righteousness of the Law vs. the Letter of the Law—Romans 2:26-27

"If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker" (Romans 2:26-27)

This is the icing on the cake! But to really understand what Paul is saying we must look at the King James version. "Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?" There is a difference between keeping the righteousness of the law and keeping the law's requirements.

Notice that he doesn't say the uncircumcised, or the Gentiles kept the law, but he said they have kept the righteousness of the Law. The difference is huge, because anybody can keep the righteousness of the Law through faith in Jesus Christ. But no one can keep the letter of the Law. In Romans 3 Paul says, "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. " ( Romans 3:21-24 )

Do you see the difference? The Law and the Prophets testified that the righteousness of the Law came through faith in the Messiah and not through the letter of the Law and fulfilling it. Because that was impossible, and it was set up this way from the beginning.

Then Paul goes on to says in verse 27, that the uncircumcised of the flesh had indeed fulfilled the law. "And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? ( Romans 2:27 KJV ). So Paul is saying that the Gentiles, who were not physically circumcised had fulfilled the law by their faith in Christ Jesus. Because of it, it brought judgment upon the Jew who was circumcised of the flesh and relying upon themselves.

Bringing it all together, we can conclude that we must be righteous to fulfill the Law. However, the things we do to obtain this state only brings about self-righteousness which can never accomplish or obtain these standards. Jesus on the other hand was completely sinless and because of that He fulfilled the letter of the Law. When we trust in Him as our Savior then he transfers to us, His righteousness and because of it, we fulfill the law. II Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." We transferred our sin to Jesus and He transferred His righteousness to us. Today thank God that if you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal savior then you are the righteousness of God and have fulfilled the Law according to what He has done!

The Value of Circumcision—Romans 2:25

"Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised" (Romans 2:25)

Circumcision, to the Jew was the outward sign of being God's chosen people. God told Abraham that the circumcision of the flesh would be a token between them for the generations to come. It reminded them of the promise God had made to Abraham.

Circumcision was a big deal to the Jews. It embodied everything they were. Paul was making no small accusation by telling them, they have become as though they had not been circumcised.

Jesus faced the same mindset. In Matthew 19, we see a rich man come to Jesus and ask him what good things he should do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus' reply was to obey the commandments. The man stated that these things he had done since he was a youth. So Jesus instructed him to sell everything he owned and follow him. The man went away from there in great distress because the Bible said that he had great possessions.

This man had followed the law since his youth and in comparison to everyone else he was pretty good. Jesus revealed to him, that even though he followed the law and had the sign of circumcision, he was still lacking in the righteousness he sought after. In the end, he chose his earthly riches over eternal life.

When the disciples had heard Jesus say that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, they were amazed and utterly puzzled. They asked him who then, could be saved. Jesus said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" ( Matthew 19:26 ). Meaning that man could never obtain salvation from observing the law, it was impossible for them. But thankfully, Jesus tells us ‘with God all things are possible'. Thank God, that he provided the plan, the way and the payment for us so that it would be possible.

Because no one could perfectly keep the law, failure to do so made the Jews, as though they were uncircumcised in the site of God. That is because the Law was not given as a way to get to God. However, Jesus was given as the way. Today, if you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I pray that you will quit relying on your goodness and put your faith in Him.

God's Name is Blasphemed Among the Gentiles Because of You—Romans 2:17-24

"Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth- you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you" (Romans 2:17-24)

It is true that having the Law brings about superior knowledge, but it also brings about more accountability before God. Because what could be omitted by ignorance, cannot be by awareness. The Jews were relying on the Law, banking on the fact that they were good enough.

However, good enough does not cut it. James says in James 2:10, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." Paul by comparison is stressing the fact, that the laws the Jews are claiming to have kept, are the same laws, they have broken. Stealing, adultery, Idol worship and coveting.

Paul speaks to the intent of the heart. It is not breaking a law only if you act upon it, the law is broken with the engagement of our mind. Jesus said in Matthew, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." ( Matthew 12:34 ) Sin lives in intent and objective not only actions. Therefore as Paul explained the nuances of the Law in Romans 2, it lays to rest that the Jews could ever fulfill it by their actions.

The Jews had a form of godliness but they were sinners just like the Gentiles. Their presented piousness which was hypocritical to what they claimed to be. Because of it, it caused the Gentiles to blaspheme God. Their representation of God gave Him a black eye.

Today, we see the same thing. We see people relying on what they can do for God instead of relying on His saving grace. They become so legalistic and self righteous, that outsiders want no part of God. It is a sad state when we take something so perfect, so holy and so simple as God's unmerited favor and kindness and turn it back into the letter, propelling others under the burden of it.

Today, may you rest in God's provision of Grace. May you throw off everything that holds you in chains and simply worship Him because He deserves it! Know that you relationship with Him rest solely on what He's done for you, not the other way around! If you do this, instead of repelling others away from Christ, you will lead them to Him!

Our Relationship to God—Romans 2:17-18

"Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law;..." (Romans 2:17-18)

Although Paul is specifically speaking to the Jews, many people are like this. They rely on their association to the church denomination to save them. If you ask them, they will gladly tell you their alliance, all the while, ignoring the fact that they are a Christian first.

They know all the doctrines and rules, somehow thinking that this brings them into fellowship with God. However Jesus said in Matthew, "you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition."( Matthew 15:6 ) and then goes onto say, "They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." ( Matthew 15:9 ) Meaning that creating the hoopla and traditions around 'Christ' misses the whole purpose of Christ. We can go to church and get caught up in the experience, but unless we are able to discern tradition from truth, we really are not benefiting ourselves, making it easy to exchange the relationship for the encounter.

The Jews battled the same thing. Because they were God's chosen people and had the Law, they pacified themselves with that knowledge. The Jews looked at the Law as what saved them, instead of realizing that through the Law they were in need of a Savior. The Law wove a wonderful picture of Christ from beginning to end. They thought they could obtain righteousness by observing the Law instead of arriving at the necessary conclusion of the Law.

Because of it, the Jews became so legalistic that the Pharisees and Sadducees burdened the people with traditions and customs because of their zeal for the Law. But God said in Hosea 6:6, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." It was always His plan to have genuine relationship with us, but they exchanged the later for the letter.

Sadly, many Christians are in the same boat today. They look at the church, with each doctrine dictating what they think, missing the point of it all. The point is to know Jesus and to know our relationship with God is based solely upon Christ. I love the old bumper sticker that you see around town, 'No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.