The Essence of Transformation
“For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart — by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28-29
Grace and peace to you fellow sojourners!
The verse in Romans says a person is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. A person is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit, not by the written code (Romans 2:28-29, Col 3:11). Israel overlooked the spiritual significance of circumcision, focused instead on the external ritual, and thus failed to boast in the Lord alone. Therefore, they forfeited their right to the title, “The Circumcision.”
You and I benefited from that misunderstanding so let’s not start wagging fingers and shaking heads. Instead, let’s see where we perhaps go wrong in our thinking. After all, aren’t we advised to remove the plank from our eye SO THAT we may see clearly enough to assist in the removal of the splinter from someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5)?
When we equate beneficial Christian behavior such as attending church, wearing the right attire, having the right hairstyle, drinking the right beverage, speaking the proper vocabulary, and mingling with the right crowd in and of itself as proof of our Christianity aren’t we also focusing on external ‘codes’? In other words, if we are aligning our behavior with an assumed ‘code’ (what Christians are supposed to do) by focusing on our outward behavior instead of internally submitting to the Spirit for authentic inward reformation how truly different are we from the circumcised Jew in this Romans example?
The church of Jesus Christ is the true Israel (Gal. 6:16), heir of all the rights and privileges belonging to it (Romans 9:24-26, 1 Peter 2:9-10), including the right to the title ‘circumcision.’
When the FOCUS is on the outward display, the resulting consequence will be a neglect of the inner devotion and dedication of the heart. As the above verse states, a person is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly. A person is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit, not because of a code. If we claim to be a Christian because the ‘code’ says we must maintain certain outward behaviors, yet we have not allowed the Spirit to circumcise our heart, we are not a true Christian.
Paul criticized the Jews precisely because they turned from the inner spiritual worship of God from the heart (Psalm 51:17) to an external religion of ritual, where human practices replaced divine commands and where people honored God with their lips but not their hearts (Matthew 15:8-9). Fellow sojourners, let’s be courageous enough to recognize where this exists in our lives and resolve to stop the charade.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me Your Spirit which enables me both to desire and to work out Your good purpose (Philippians 2:13). I do not want to neglect the dedication of my heart to You. I understand my outward behavior alone does not signal my allegiance to Christ. The inward transformation is the essence of how I will worship and honor You with my heart in a way that is authentic and pleasing to You.
In His grace,