Romans 2:29 “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
For all their religious pretense, Paul was pointing out to the Jews in Rome that their natural born heritage meant nothing compared to the life-transforming power of the gospel. He parallels the illustration of circumcision to that of the physical and the spiritual.
The Jews knew of the first. The Jewish religion demanded circumcision on the eighth day after birth. Paul elevates the argument from religion to relational.
At that time, the Jews were confronted with the challenge of what the resurrection was giving – salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There was testimony after life-transforming testimony to prove what the disciples preached was true. Yet, the Jews clung to their religion.
Centuries have passed, and we still struggle with the same issue.
The gospel is confrontational. It challenges the individual to compare what they believe to the truth of the gospel. The simple choice between what we DO to get us to Heaven versus what’s already been DONE is presented to all.
It is human nature to want to think there is an element of work needed to receive the gift of salvation. Religion preaches DO. The Word of God says, Trust what’s been DONE.
We hear more often of those who have risen in popularity, only to hear of some flaw or hidden secret that betrays their character. Well-known pastors of large churches leaving their pulpits for doctrinal differences, immorality, or financial deception make headline news.
The deceptive nature of trying to be something you’re not can only go on for so long. If a person is saved, they have the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the truth. If not, the Word of God tells us:
Numbers 32:23 “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”
All is not deceitful or deceptive. Some well-meaning folks have stepped into a position to lead in the church only to find they have no relationship with the One they are preaching or teaching. The power of the gospel is to bring fruit.
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
There are those more concerned with outward appearance than holiness. A man like David would have been churched after his affair with Bathsheba. Yet, we read of God’s assessment that he is a man after God’s own heart. There is nothing in the Word of God that condones what he did. David and those around him suffered for his actions.
But, it is the sweet repentance of Psalm 51 that reveals David’s heart.
Psalm 51:3-4 “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”
God already knew what He was getting long before you and I were ever born. Yet, His love was already settled upon us and salvation given before the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 1:4-5 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”
The change and transformation we receive in Jesus Christ should shine forth. It is the fruit that reveals that He now lives in me. Trying to fool people into believing that I am something I am not, does more damage than good and will ultimately hurt the cause of Christ, not help it.
There are many willing to step in and fill the gap. Yet, I believe that God ordained people gave them gifts and talents for them to take their place in the body of Christ. It becomes difficult to allow a vacancy to exist when there are those passionate enough to want the body as a whole to succeed.
How then will we ever know there is a need?
We cannot fool the world, telling them the church is perfect – far from it! It is the place where imperfect people come to salvation, are healed, and comforted. It is a spiritual hospital, not a showcase for religion.
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.” Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)
Let us strive to be genuine, honest, humble, and transparent. Let Jesus live His life through us.