Circumcision of the Heart

He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart.

–Romans 2:28–29

Rituals and regulations are powerless to save us. Only Jesus Christ can set us free from the power and consequences of sin.

Interestingly, Paul used the ritual of circumcision to demonstrate the truth that only Jesus Christ can save us. Paul wrote, “In [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete . . . ; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:9–11).

In God’s covenant with Abraham, every male baby in a Jewish home was to be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth, and every male who joined a Jewish family was also to be circumcised (Genesis 7:10–12). Circumcision was the sign of identifying with the Jewish people and the covenant God made with Abraham.

But the external act of circumcision has never made a person right with God–that’s an interior issue. Paul said in Romans 2:28–29, “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” Paul was saying, “Being Jewish does not mean you’re in a right relationship with God.”

The way we’re saved is not by being physically related to Abraham but by being spiritually related to Abraham. There is only one way to be saved, and it’s through faith in Christ. That’s what Jesus said, and He was a Jew. Being a physical descendant of Abraham is not enough; being externally circumcised is not enough. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

In Romans 4, Paul proved this point through the example of Abraham. Look at verse 9: “We say, ‘Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.’” That’s a reference to Genesis 15:6, the moment Abraham was saved. He believed in the promises of God, and God credited him with righteousness. Paul continued, “How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised” (Romans 4:10). Paul was saying, “Look at the timeline. Had Abraham been circumcised when he was declared righteous? No; his salvation occurred fourteen years before he was circumcised.”

We are not saved by any physical ritual; we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Radical Surgery” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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