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Thursday, March 19 2020

Martins Olubiyi

Introduction: Apostle Paul’s knowledge of Jurisprudence (the theory or philosophy of law) coupled with his revelation of the mystery of the Christ (the Gospel) informed his exordium and exposition on the subject of - Jews and the Law. The complexities of this subject as it relates to physical circumcision and spiritual circumcision is rooted in his exploration of the dispensation of Conscience, Human government; Promise; Law and Grace rather than the subject itself.  In our last study, we learnt about the hypocrisy of the Jew as it relates to the privileges they had in terms of receiving the Law, their ‘ego’ in God, knowledge of His will in the Law and their approval of the Law. Moreover, we learnt that Moral Law reveals the character and attributes of God (His holiness, righteousness, sovereignty, love and His will), it reveals the sinfulness of man, it is a tutor to lead the sinner to Christ (Gal 3:24), it is a restraint to evil in society, it reveals the will of God. In addition, we learnt about the confidence of the Jews as to the practice of the Law; with their belief as guide to the blind, light to those in darkness, corrector of the foolish and teacher of the childish. Lastly, we examined Paul’s challenging questions to the adherents of Law – Do you teach yourself? Do you steal? Do you commit adultery and Do you Rob Temples?

Today, we shall learn how best we can please God from moving from the condemnation of the Law to a life of Grace in the context of spiritual circumcision.

Text: Romans 2: 25-29 [Amplified Bible (AMP)].

25 Circumcision [the sign of the covenant of Abraham] is indeed of value if you practice the law; but if you habitually break the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision [it is meaningless in God’s sight]. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded [by God] as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps [the spirit of] the Law will judge you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, break the Law. 28 For he is not a [real] Jew who is only outwardly, nor is [true] circumcision something external and physical. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and [true] circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by [the fulfilment of] the letter [of the Law]. His praise is not from men, but from God.    

The intricacies of circumcision. Vs 25

Paul explains why Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because the Jews, even though circumcised, do not live up to their profession. The verse reveals that circumcision is: Valuable if you practice the Law; It becomes hypocritical if you habitually break the Law. Hence, it becomes a futile effort and meaningless in the sight of God. Grace demands circumcision of the heart. Our liberty in Christ is not a call for wilful sin. See Heb 10: 26-29.

Case Study:

King David’s life is an example of genuine repentance. He never repeated any sin he confessed and repented of before God.

The Complexities. Vs 26

Paul continues his argument by asking a rhetorical question that demands a positive answer, though not all Jews would have agreed. He asks: if an uncircumcised man who keeps the righteous requirements of the Law can be regarded as “circumcised”, i.e., a member of the covenant community and heir of the promises of God? According to Paul, he will certainly be regarded as such. Further, that very man who is uncircumcised by birth and yet keeps the Law, he will judge the circumcised lawbreaker as though uncircumcised. And he will do this despite the fact that the man claims to have both the written code, namely, the Mosaic Law and circumcision as a sign.

The Standard. Vs 27.

Obedience to God’s word is the key. Our obedience in keeping to His word must be perfected.

Jos 1: 8 ‘This book of the law shall not depart …’. Psa 119: 11. ‘Your words have I hid in my heart …’ Lam 3: 40 ‘Let us examine and test our ways ….’. Psa 119: 105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet ….’

Circumcision not a ticket to the world to come. Vs 28-29

Paul maintained that circumcision is of no value if not attended by faithful practice of the Law for which it was a sign. Hence, he goes further than just to explain the reason for Gentile blasphemy- it is as though the man is not even circumcised. It means that such a man is not a true member of the covenant community and is unregenerate, as 2: 28-29 would seem to indicate.

True Religion.

In verses 28-29, Paul says there is a reason why circumcision by itself guarantees nothing. It is because true religion is first and foremost- and always – a matter of the heart (i.e., genuine faith) or the inner man. To be sure circumcision was a sign of membership in the covenant community of Israel, but it was only a sign. It could not create the reality of participation in the saved community, nor could it somehow replace the means of participation in the covenant community, i.e., by living faith (Rom 4). The true Jew, therefore, is one knowledgeable of what constitutes true religion should know this better than anyone. Now the Scripture gives a clue as to what is true religion:

  • Fear, love and serve God. Eccl 12:13; Deut 10:12
  • Visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1: 27.
  • To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God. Rom 13:10; Mark 12:33; Mic 6:8.

Test Question:

What do you cling to as a sign of your Christianity? (2: 25-29) 

The Need for Inward Transformation. The Centrality of God over Human Opinion.

CONCLUSION:

We cannot but ask ourselves this question: Who is a true Jew? A true Jew is not one who is merely circumcised outwardly, that is, in the flesh. The true Jew is one who is circumcised inwardly, a circumcision of the heart done by the Spirit and not by the written code. The circumcision Paul intends here is keeping with the promise of Jeremiah 31: 31-33 and refers to a supernatural rebirth, the same thing about which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus (John 3:1).

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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