Romans 2:25-29
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Question: What is a covenant? A covenant is much different than a contract whereas a contract, if one party doesn't hold up their side of the contract the entire thing is nullified. A covenant is one or more parties make promises to another that they will keep regardless if the other side holds to theirs. This means when someone makes a covenant, they are promising they will keep their side of the covenant (period). When God makes a covenant then, God who always keeps His word and is always found true to His own character, keeps His covenants because He is God. Even if man doesn't hold up his side God remains faithful.


13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. - 2 Timothy 2:13


God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. - 1 Corinthians 1:9


19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? - Numbers 23:19


What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! - Romans 3:3-4a


Now that we've established what a covenant is, let's continue our study in Romans.


25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law 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 which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. - Romans 2:25-29


Did you know circumcision is mentioned nearly 100 times in the bible? If you consider just the natural side of it then seems a bit absurd to have it be such a largely brought up topic of the bible. Well, circumcision to the Jews meant something far more than just the removal of skin. It was a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and Abraham, that God would miraculously remove the reproach of Abraham (signified by the removing of skin, see also Joshua 5:9) and make him who was past the age of having children (99 years old, Gen 17:1) a father of innumerable offspring (Gen. 12:1-3). Furthermore, at the time of this covenant it's important to note this is when God changed his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). Every man in Abraham's family was commanded thereafter to be circumcised and any that did not were declaring said person was outside of God's covenant. This explains why God was angry when Moses failed to circumcise his son (Exo. 4:24-26). So why circumcision? Because the promise had to do reproduction and the physical lineage of Abraham's descendants. Because the covenant had to do with reproduction produced by sexual relations, the sign also had to do with that as well. This shouldn't be odd to us, though through our culture it is. But God invented sex, He designed it to be a wholesome event that He even desires to bless. Thus circumcision was a sign and reminder to both the men and their wives that any offspring in Abraham's lineage were a blessing from God and that all of Israel owed their existence to God.


25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. - Romans 2:25


These men unfortunately took circumcision, which was meant as a sign, and made it in their minds a right-of-passage. They took what was meant to be symbolic and applied far more attributes to it while neglecting the weightier provisions of the law (Matt. 23:23). Because this (circumcision, which was considered a right of passage) was a large problem for the early church it's no surprise it's largely brought up in scripture. Furthermore, as is all of God's word, it's still applicable today. Maybe not with circumcision so much, but with other so called signs. Some in the world will do the same with baptism. If you ask them if they have faith in Christ they respond by saying they were baptized at such and such age. They are viewing being baptized as a right-of-passage when it was only intended as symbolism. Paul here is debunking such symbolism as being tickets into heaven. He explains that symbolisms are just that, symbolic, giving illustration to something else, in this case, being faithful in keeping the law. And if that something else is missing, i.e. someone breaks one of the commandments, the symbolism that was intended to show they were in keeping with the law means nothing.


26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? - Romans 2:26


Paul is showing that the qualifiers, or the "ticket" is not that which is seen outwardly which is merely symbolism but that if such a person meets that which is actually the "ticket" inwardly, God, even without the symbolism of circumcision will regard such a person as if he was of the covenant that circumcision was suppose to represent.


Imagine if mine and Jamie's marriage was entirely summed up by the wedding rings we wore? Instead of giving credit to God and His love we point to our ring as the all powerful force behind our marriage? Ridiculous right? What if, when we had disputes, instead of turning to God, we put the ring on a pedestal and prayed to it. I am being ridiculous but to illustrate a point. What if I became a horrible husband who failed to provide for Jamie and care for her needs. What if worse than that I began abusing her to the point of her breaking and saying to me "You're horrible to me, you do not love me nor are you devoted to me, you are not the husband I married". How do you suppose it would go if I countered "Jamie, I've wore this ring flawlessly our entire marriage, not once have I forsaken it, how can you say I'm horrible???" Jamie wouldn't accept such a defense and neither does God.


Circumcision, baptism, and a wedding ring were intended to be a symbol, nothing more. If Jamie and I lost our rings we'd be bummed but our marriage wouldn't be over. When we hang a cross in our church we do not take pride in the cross itself. How morbid is that, to take pride in a torture device... It's what the cross symbolizes, it reminds us of what Jesus Christ accomplished on it on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 12:2). When we display a cross we are doing it in remembrance of Jesus and His accomplishment on our behalf. Communion is the same. 1 Cor. 11:26 says that as often as we take communion we are proclaiming the Lord's death until He comes. Communion doesn't save, but when we take communion we are doing it in remembrance of Him who does! Communion is a reminder that it's not whether or not we are worthy but rather a reminder that it's Jesus, and His accomplishments which made us right with God. When we take communion we declare that Jesus successfully atoned for our sins.


27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? - Romans 2:27


Circumcision makes a person no more a Jew than wearing military identification tags (dog tags) makes one a Navy Seal. If my friends who know me saw me one day with military identification tags classifying me with such an esteemed position, they'd laugh and ask me how much I paid for those. If a civilian just met me, maybe I could convince them (though with the shape I'm in probably not). If a real Navy Seal sat next to me on a plane as I'm sitting there with my fancy dog tags and digital camo he'd be busting my balls (pun intended) before we even landed and rightfully so since he himself is worthy to carry such a title having gone through and met all the requirements of such an esteemed position and I have not. The Jews took pride in being called a Jew and in the outward symbol of circumcision.


28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. - Romans 2:28


What if the Navy Seal didn't bust my chops but instead let me continue pretending? The plane landed and he, playing along, ushered me onto the same lay-over flight as him... I was just interested in the military discount and a few in just a short matter of time I'm heading to somewhere that's going to be bad news for me and everyone around me. I believe it's for this same reason that Paul is busting the chops of his fellow kinsmen. What person, if they are loving, would let another pretend they are something when they are not, knowing that such misplaced self perception would lead them to destruction? In my case I knew I wasn't a Navy Seal but Jews thought their pedigree was all that's needed. If a gentile thinks baptism will get them into heaven, I'm doing them no favor by allowing them to believe that.


29 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; and his praise is not from men, but from God. - Romans 2:29


It's not circumcision, baptism, checking a box on a form that says 'Christian', it's not having a cross neckless, it's not knowledge of scripture or right and wrong, it's not having Christian parents or being raised in the church. It's entirely the Father God's will, by the Spirit, in the seed of Abraham, that is Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:16), who inwardly makes one a covenant child of God.


39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; - John 5:39


There's a good reason that Paul concludes with showing the correct way is only done "by the Spirit". This is the new covenant which brings about the circumcision of the heart that Paul is speaking of. This new covenant was spoken of by the old testament prophets.


31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” - Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see also in Hebrews 8:6-13).


19 And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. - Ezekiel 11:19-20


Don't let this one fact escape you. God and God alone saves (Eph. 2:8-9) and sanctifies (Gal. 3:3). Christ and His work on the cross is the new covenant mentioned in the old testament.


20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. - Luke 22:20


Only a person who has the Holy Spirit has life. Only a person who has received the sacrifice of Jesus as atonement for their sins has entered the new covenant. This is the very thing we are symbolizing when we take communion (Luke 22:19-20). However, if we take communion without having receiving Jesus, than communion, like outward circumcision, means nothing.


Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. - John 3:5


However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. - Romans 8:9


12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. - 1 John 5:12


  So how does a person receive so wonderful a treasure and what's the cost to us?


13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” - Luke 11:13


23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23


Everything you need to be right with God, to grow in God, to be transformed and be presented complete in Christ is completely done by God and amazingly it's available to us free for the asking. This is why we trust in God; it's only God who can, in us, accomplish what we cannot: Righteousness! (2 Cor. 5:21) Victory over sin! (Gal. 5:16) Eternal life! (Rom. 6:23) To be made children of God! (1 John 3:1).


For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:3-4


See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. - 1 John 3:1


Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. - 2 Corinthians 3:4-6


This is not done by us, it is done by God. While we are benefactors of this unfathomable (1 Cor. 13:12, Rom. 11:33) gift we are not the ones who earn it, nor accomplish it in our lives. Christ earned it, and it is, as Paul put it, by the Spirit that God accomplishes in us so great a heart's desire of His! (Isa. 30:18, 53:10, Luke 12:32, Heb. 12:2, John 3:16, Mic. 7:18, Luke 13:34, 19:41, to name a few).


13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. - Ephesians 1:13-14




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