Sunday, February 18
"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 person’s praise is not from people but from God."
Paul here is talking about “religion” as opposed to a genuine relationship to a holy God as described by Jesus, when He said, “You MUST be born again.” (John 3:7) The outward symbolism of circumcision was to be a witness to the inward relationship a person has with God, just as Abraham "... believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15:6, Rom 4:3, Gal 3:6, James 2:23) Paul's accusation was that there were many that wrap themselves in the outward trappings of religion, but there is no heart relationship.
The same is true today. Many wrap themselves in the “Judeo-Christian” trappings and jump through the hoops of the tradition in which they were raised, but miss the relationship that our heavenly Father yearns to have with us.
Dr. John Peper, a former pastor, used to say that “a lot of people will miss heaven by about eighteen inches. The distance between the head and the heart.” Just like Paul in the verses above, Dr. Peper's point was that there are a lot of people who have a head knowledge, but that doesn't translate to the kind of RELATIONSHIP that changes the inward character, which is translated into an outward lifestyle that is in turn pleasing to God.
Many, especially here in the USA, embrace a “Cultural Christianity” that is merely external. They feel a great need, an “obligation” even, to attend a church periodically, especially at Easter and/or Christmas. They feel the need to be baptized (whether it’s splashing, sprinkling or dunking) and participate in communion every once in a while, and in so doing they feel that appeases Almighty God. 'Till next time.
Religionists are often militant and unyielding in their zeal to force others to conform to their view of how religion should be practiced. Jesus experienced it when He confronted the Sadducees and Pharisees during His life and ministry. Peter and Paul experienced it when they confronted the Judaizers, who insisted that Gentile believers had to literally become Jews by being circumcised and conforming to other Jewish practices. We have seen it throughout history. We see the same religious zeal in many places and cultures in our world today.
Our relationship with God is not based on our practices, but by trusting, believing, and receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord, being indwelt by His Holy Spirit and being changed from the inside out …. being “Born Again.”
Pray for the assurance that your HEART is right and that you’re not depending on your PRACTICES.
- Pastor Glen