Today’s Reading: Roman’s 1 – 2
Provocative title isn’t it? I was hoping it would get your attention. If you just read these sentences, then the title worked.
First of all, allow me to clarify the title. Circumcision is for everyone – men and women. It is not only something for a new born baby boy. Now do I have your attention?
As we continue to read through the Bible chronologically this year, we find ourselves these days jumping between the book of Acts (the account of the acts of the Apostles in the early days of the church) and Paul’s letters to the various groups he was working with. Today we find ourselves in the beginning of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul opens with some general greetings and then shares how much God hates sin. At the end of the first chapter of Romans Paul shares how God not only hates sin, but he hates hypocritical people who condemn sin and then do that very sin themselves. He states by doing the exact thing they know they shouldn’t they encourage others to do likewise.
Romans 1:32 (NLT)
32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
Chapter two of Romans opens with a continuation on the theme that God hates sin and there will be a judgment for sin. He then turns his direction very carefully unto the Jews in Rome. He really challenges them on the idea that keeping (obeying) the culture and customs of the Jewish law does not provide them with any special forgiveness or excuse or reason to believe that God is not also condemning them. He basically says that just because you have been circumcised according to the lay of Moses, does not mean that you have found favor with God. Circumcision does not make the Jews any better than an uncircumcised Gentile.
Paul goes on to say that the physical/cultural act of circumcision is without value in terms of our relationship to God.
Romans 2:25 – 29 (NLT)
25 The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God’s law. But if you don’t obey God’s law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. 26 And if the Gentiles obey God’s law, won’t God declare them to be his own people? 27 In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God’s law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God’s law but don’t obey it.
28 For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. 29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
God had been preparing the Jews for this idea that circumcision was more than a physical act to be obeyed. It was a sign of one’s commitment to God (ref. Genesis 17:10 – 13) . A setting apart.
Jeremiah 4:4 (NIV)
4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
circumcise your hearts,
you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done—
burn with no one to quench it.
Jeremiah 9:24 (NIV)
25 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh
Galatians 6:15 (NIV)
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
What God values is circumcision of the heart. It is the cutting off of one’s self, one’s pride, one’s ego, one’s believe in salvation through his own means – the cutting of our own heart – that is what produces favor with God. As the title of post says, this type of circumcision of the heart can be done by anyone. It is not gender biased. Male and female can turn their circumcised hearts over to God. Have you had your heart circumcised?
Here is a deeper discussion on the topic http://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/1_6/circumcision