Romans 2:25-27 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 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.You may have thought that the only time you really had to think about circumcision was that moment you found out you were having a boy and you agonized over whether or not to subject your baby boy to the knife. And yet, Paul is challenging all believers in this matter. First off, I will give you a way out, as Paul did, both for those circumcised already (Jews) and those who are not circumcised (non-Jews, or the Gentiles). If you have kept the law, then you will be regarded as one circumcised (as heirs to the promise of God).
"Oh, good!" you might be thinking, "I'll take the easy way out and claim those promises without pain." If that is the route that you are going to take, let me remind you of this law that you are going to try to uphold in your own power. The New Testament law is generally agreed to include the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17), and the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:34-38), as well as the Golden Rule (Matthew 29:39-40) So, to make it easy for you, I'll list the laws that you can follow perfectly in order to avoid going under the knife:
Have no other gods before Me (God).
Starting off with an easy one--I don't worship other gods. Popular culture, money, family members, work--those things aren't really gods.
Don't make for yourself an idol.
Right, good again. No golden calves here. The time and energy I spend making my home and myself beautiful for my family--those aren't real idols.
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.
Well, I have to serve my family right? And work, I have to go to work to support them. That's not worship. I wonder if God is jealous of all the time I spend on things other than Him.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
I wonder if listening and accepting it when others do counts?
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
This is 2006. What does that one even mean anymore? I go to church. I think that's good enough.
Honor your father and your mother.
What about "leave and cleave?" I have to do that. I have my own family now. I think I'm probably okay here, too.
You shall not murder.
Finally! No doubt here. Never killed anyone. Wait, do I remember Jesus saying that if I am even angry with my brother or call someone a fool, I'm guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-22)?
You shall not commit adultery.
Oh, I haven't, but I do think that Jesus also said here that if I even look upon someone with lust, that's considered adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). And what about all those times my mind wanders or wonders?
You shall not steal.
No, I'm not a thief, but I suppose that I have stolen something at some time--that time that I didn't give the extra change back, or wasn't charged for that coffee after dinner at the restaurant.
You shall not lie.
You shall not covet...anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Not anything? I mean, just because I'm a little jealous, doesn't mean I'm unhappy with what You've given me.
Love the Lord with all your heart, and soul and mind.
Hmmm, that really does require some pretty hefty commitment.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
I'm pretty selfish, so I guess that means that I should be pretty generous to my neighbor.
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.So, yes, there probably are things that we should remove from our lives in order to have a heart that pleases God. And yet, at the same time, we can't simply focus on doing all those things that seem to be the right things to do, at the expense of truly turning our hearts towards God. In today's church culture, you can substitute any number of things for Paul's use of the word circumcision, such as baptism, church membership, attending organized Bible studies, or service in the ministry.
What I gathered in studying this particular piece of scripture is that the things I do might garner praise from men, but not God. I may care what others think of me, or how my walk of faith looks to others, but God doesn't care what others think of me one bit. He doesn't care if they think that I am the Christian of all Christians (because He knows), and He doesn't care if they think I'm not upholding the right image of a Christian (because He knows). It is freeing to actually move from doing what we think others expect us to do, and doing what we know pleases God. It's not easy. It's definitely a higher calling to be good instead of just looking good.
So now I think that the question is not whether or not to cut, but rather what it is that we must subject to the knife of the Holy Spirit. What is it in our lives that needs to be removed in order to help our hearts be fully obedient to Christ?
Index of Romans posts