A Heart For The Lord

Intro story

 You could say, his heart had not been circumcised for the Lord

Now you might be thinking, that’s a weird way to phrase it

Generally speaking it would be, but since we go through the bible verse by verse this is where we are landing in the scriptures today

Romans 2:25-29

25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your [a]written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose [b]praise is not from men but from God.

When I started in ministry about 15 years ago I never once thought that one day I would have to prepare a message about circumcision

But here we are.

In the last month I have learned more about it than I ever thought I would, now you get to hear it too

Circumcision is mentioned about 100 times between the old testament and the new

This discussion about circumcision happens a few times in the new testament

Often when we hear circumcision we just think of a medical practice

But to God and the jewish people it was so much more than that

Circumcision was a direct covenant between God and His people

People probably don’t think of this or even realize, well I didn’t anyway, that this covenant was the beginning of Gods chosen people

This covenant to Abraham created a whole lineage that was set apart by God and for Him

As long as they upheld the covenant God gave to Abraham they would be set apart

Lets look in genesis to see the start of the covenant

It’s a lot of scripture but it is important to understand

Genesis 17:1-22

17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am [a]Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of [b]many nations. No longer shall your name be called [c]Abram, but your name shall be [d]Abraham; for I have made you a father of [e]many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in[f] which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but [g]Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”

19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” 22 Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

The reason this argument is so important to the Jews is because all they knew was that to be set apart you needed this circumcision

Abraham and sarah were past the age for having children

But God through this covenant allowed it, but not just Abraham and his family had to do it

Everyone in Abrahams house hold, even if they were from another country

That’s why the jewish people were so persistent in having gentiles uphold this covenant

Also understanding the historical context of circumcision helps us to understand how important this was to the jewish people

God had made other covenants through out bible

Like the rainbow, baptism, the lords supper and all of those make sense

Circumcision just sounds painful and unnecessary

But God knows what he is doing

This covenant was significant

Abraham spent time in Egypt and his offspring were going to also

Historians and archeologists have found the circumcision was actually practiced well before Abraham

There are times in the bible were God will take something that a culture is doing and make it His own to show He is the one true God

Just like the the plagues God used in Egypt, each one signified a God they served and God proved he was more powerful than their gods

The same with circumcision

It was practiced by the Egyptians

It was a rite reserved for and obligatory for the king and people who served in his court

It was viewed as an initiation sign for those people that were devoted to the service of their god

It identified royalty and clergy to show how devoted they were to their deity

In Gods infinite wisdom He used this practice to once again show how great He is and the only God there is

It created the special relationship with Abraham that the Egyptians were already familiar with to prove it

Circumcision became an outward confession of an inward devotion to God

When God told Abraham to be circumcised he was well past the age of having children

And sarah was incapable to have them

Gods intervention and covenant led to a miraculous birth of Isaac who through the bloodline created Gods chosen people

Everyone in Abrahams household witnessed this

The Israelites new that because of this covenant their entire race began

They had a constant reminder

Everytime an Israelite woman lay with her husband she would be reminded of this covenant

Every boy on the 8th day being circumcised would help them reflect on God and His promise to His people

That is why this argument was so rooted in the Jews

But now that Jesus came and died we are able to have a relationship with God that doesn’t matter so much about the outside, but what is in a someones heart.

Romans 2:25-29

25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your [a]written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose [b]praise is not from men but from God.

Paul is saying that the only way circumcision is profitable is if we are able to keep the whole law

But if you have stumbled in any area of the law, which everyone has, then circumcision means nothing

We are not able to hold perfect any part of the law and only through Jesus have we been made righteous

So there is no point that grown men the gentiles need to hold to this covenant if they are in right standing with God

Because He is not looking outward but inward

This scripture at its most basic is faith based salvation vs works based salvation

Faith based salvation says that Jesus did everything He needed to do on the cross

There is nothing more that we can do to be in right standing with God

Because that’s what Jesus did He made us righteous through His sacrifice

He gave us the ability to be in the right standing with God

We cant earn even a little bit of our salvation by our works

Our salvation begins and ends with Jesus Christ. Our own merit will not get us there

Works based salvation says we can earn our salvation by the good works we do for the Lord

The reason some believe this is because it just seems right in the eyes of man

One of our most basic desires is to be in control of our own lives and future

That means even our eternal future

Works based salvation appeals to peoples pride and the desire to be in control

Some people would rather believe this rather than believe its by faith alone

People seem to think that for some reason they can out weigh their bad works with the good

But that cant be done

Usually they think that way because they cant fully fathom the Holiness of God

There is no sin in Him

Its hard for people to want to see them as anything else other than a good person

But the bible tells us our Heart is deceitful above all things

God is Holy, we are not, no matter how hard we work

Its very appealing to a persons sinful nature to try to work towards salvation

Because it puts them in a place where they think they have a say in the outcome of their life

This is actually a predominantly held viewpoint by many other religions

Biblical Christianity is the only religion that says faith in Jesus is the only way to obtain a right standing

We can not work for our salvation if you are living biblical Christianity

Story- friend Faith/works

Which one of us were saved

This is really a trick question that you would need more info on

Because neither of us were saved

He believed there was a God but never submitted to Him

If my friend had actually confessed Christ and given himself to Him he would have grown in faith. The faith would’ve saved him, he already had the works

I had some faith in God, but not enough faith that it led to a changed life

I believed in God claimed to be a Christian, but I wasn’t

If I had really given my life to the Lord it would have reflected in my life and then shown in my works

Me claiming Christian means nothing

If you truly have a heart change and except salvation the you will change

We both could have had a relationship with Jesus but only by faith would we have been able to be made righteous

James 2:14-26

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [f]your works, and I will show you my faith by [g]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [h]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made [i]perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was [j]accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Faith and works are not mutually exclusive

Meaning both of these things should be happening simultaneously

Giving your life to the Lord will change your heart

Everything about you should change

Most of the people close to Jesus had a life transformation

Paul, peter, john, luke, matthew

I could keep going, but all of these men had a complete change in life and character after Christ

They didn’t continue to keep living the same way

They gave up their life and their own comforts and they were changed forever

A true relationship with Him is going to change you

Your works will follow your faith

Now that being said

God still saves by faith alone

He makes us righteous through Jesus and nothing else

He is looking for faithfulness in hearts towards Jesus Christ

Romans 2:29

29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose [b]praise is not from men but from God.

If we focus on the letter of the law it can be up for debate

We can, in our own minds try to figure a way around it

For instance the ten commandments

Exodus 20:14

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

People could take this at the time and still lust after someone else

Since they hadn’t committed the act they weren’t sinning

They were following the letter of the law

When Jesus came He changed it because He knows how a mans heart works

Matthew 5:27-28

27 “You have heard that it was said [i]to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

We need to follow the spirit of the law not the letter

The gentiles could have easily, well painfully circumcised themselves and still not been in right standing

God wants their faithfulness, not works

Another example would be

Story- do not go outside with friends

I was following the letter but I knew what my dad meant

Do not go outside

But with as deceitful as our hearts can be we try to find the way around

The spirit of the law is more about honoring God by faithfulness to Him

The letter of the law points towards works

We need to be people that believe in a biblical Christianity

Do not try to find work arounds to what God has asked

Be faithful to Christ believe in Him and honor God

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