01/26/T – Heart Matters

1 Chronicles 19:1-20:8; Romans 2:25-29; Psalms 11:7; Proverbs 5:7-14

NT: “Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. 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.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭2:25-29‬ ‭CSB)

Circumcision was a rite initially given to Abraham to symbolize and serve as a reminder of God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Basically, circumcision symbolized Abraham placing his entire legacy and posterity into God’s hands. Without God’s covenant and Abraham’s faith in that covenant, circumcision had no meaning – it was just a symbol. It had no substance in and of itself. Circumcision didn’t have the power to make a man a Jew – only identification with and faith in God’s covenant could do that. It was similar to our custom of wedding bands today. Wearing a wedding band on my finger doesn’t make me married. I wear a wedding band on my finger to symbolize and remind me of the covenant I made with my wife. The power to remain married does not exist in the wedding band – it is in my covenantal love and faithfulness for my wife, and her covenantal love and faithfulness for me. Similar to Judaism, Christianity has rites that symbolize our faith in Christ: baptism, taking communion, and becoming a member of the church. Baptism doesn’t transform us. We get baptized because we have placed our faith on Christ, placed our life in His hands, and received His resurrection life. Baptism is an outward symbol of an inward heart transformation. Taking communion doesn’t save us. We take communion to remind ourselves of what Christ did to save us and to identify with the victory that He won for us on the cross. Joining a church doesn’t make us a Christian. We join a church because we have been baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit as we placed our faith in Christ. Baptism, communion, and church membership do not mean we belong to Christ any more than wearing a wedding ring makes me married. In order to be Christ’s and be counted among His faithful, a covenant must be made and faithfully kept. God is not looking for outward symbols – He is looking for authentic covenant, substantive faith, and heart transformation.

Psalms: “For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds. The upright will see his face.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭11:7‬ ‭CSB)

The Apostle James stated in his epistle that faith without works is dead. We act according to our beliefs. Works don’t make me righteous – but true and genuine righteousness will be evidenced through righteous works. In Psalm 51, David wrote, “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.” Works performed as symbolic ritual do not move God. God loves righteous deeds that are born out of a heart that has been made righteous through humility and faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ. Those who are truly upright are the ones who will be given the privilege of drawing near to God and seeing His face.

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