Romans 2:25-29

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Text: Romans 2:25-29

FORMALITY VERSUS REALITY

INTRODUCTION:

In Romans 1:16-17 we have noted the theme of Romans. It is the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. The one who is made righteous by faith in Christ's finished work on the Cross at Calvary is the one who will have eternal life.

The first major section of Romans deals with man's lack of righteousness. It shows the need for the righteousness of God. In Romans 1:18-32 we have seen that the pagan Gentile lacks the righteousness of God. In Romans 2:1-16 we have seen that the moralizer, whether Jew or Gentile, lacks the righteousness of God. In Romans 2:17-3:8 we see that the Jew lacks the righteousness of God. In Romans 2:25-29 we see that the Jew lacks the righteousness of God and, therefore, that he needs to be saved. The Jew stands condemned before God and is trusting in self-righteousness rather than in the righteousness of God.

We use many symbols. If we forget what the symbol stands for, then the symbol is useless. Some of the symbols commonly used are: words, numbers (telephone, age, address, number of dependents, money, license plates, driver's license, social security number, zip code, tax number, etc.), blue ribbon (first place or top quality), Cadillac, Lincoln, or Rolls Royce represent elegance, politics - hammer and sickle, elephant, donkey. In religion symbols are also used. There was Daniel's image, a crucifix, the sign of the cross, the Rosary, the symbol of the fish, one way with the finger raised, the empty cross, baptism, the Lord's Supper. Now it is easy to forget that something is only a symbol, and it is easy to begin worshiping the symbol rather than the reality that it represents. Circumcision is a good example of this.

In Genesis 15:6 God imputed righteousness to Abraham because Abraham believed Him. Circumcision had its origin in Genesis 17:1-14 .

Genesis 15:6 - And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Genesis 17:1-4 , 7-14 - (1) And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (2) And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. (3) And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, (4) As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

(7) And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (8) And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (9) And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. (10) This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. (11) And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. (12) And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. (13) He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. (14) And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

This circumcision was physical and, under the law, was to be performed on all Jewish baby boys. In the New Testament it is referred to as a circumcision made by hand.

This has nothing to do with the physical circumcision of most baby boys performed in the United States today.

Circumcision was a spiritual sign of the covenant God made with Abraham, but circumcision was not the covenant itself.

Circumcision was a seal of God's gift of righteousness, but circumcision was not the righteousness itself.

Circumcision was a token of the work of grace whereby God chooses out and marks men for his own, but circumcision is not that work of grace.

People who received circumcision were to obey God's law.

There is a second circumcision referred to in the Bible. It is spiritual rather than physical. It is a circumcision of the heart and is referred to as a circumcision made without hands.

Deuteronomy 10:16 - Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

Jeremiah 4:4 - Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

If people did not obey God's law, their circumcision meant nothing.

Jeremiah 9:25-26 - (25) Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; (26) Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.

The circumcision of the heart is mentioned in Colossians 2:10-11 .

Colossians 2:10-11 - (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (11) In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.

This circumcision of the heart occurs when an individual trusts Christ as his personal Savior.

By the circumcision of Christ implies that it is the Lord Jesus Christ Who performed this circumcision on the believers.

In God's sight this entire body of sins produced by the old sin nature has been once and forever cut off and, thereby, removed from every believer at the instant he trusts Christ as his Savior.

Although the believer still possesses his old sin nature, there is coming a day when even his old sin nature will be completely removed, not during this lifetime, but when he dies or when the Lord Jesus returns for believers at the rapture, whichever comes first. In God's sight, however, it has already been done and is an accomplished fact.

I. CIRCUMCISION OF THE FLESH PROVIDES NO SPIRITUAL BENEFIT FOR THOSE WHO BREAK THE LAW - 2:25-27

Romans 2:25-27 - (25) For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. (26) Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? (27) And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

Romans 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

In the context, verse 25 provides a transition from Paul's discussion of the behavior of the Jew to circumcision.

For . . . verily is now on the one hand.

Circumcision profiteth is circumcision helps, circumcision aids, circumcision benefits, or is of use to.

If thou keep the law is if you do the law. Its present tense indicates a continuing condition. The suggestion is that the law must be kept perfectly throughout life. If it is, then circumcision will be beneficial. Unfortunately, no Jew other than Christ has kept the law perfectly. Hence, no Jew other than Christ has kept the law.

But suggests on the other hand.

If thou be a breaker of the law is if you are a transgressor of the law. Unfortunately, every Jew has fulfilled this condition. Every Jew other than Christ has become a transgressor of the law.

Thy circumcision is made uncircumcision indicates that the Jew's breaking or transgressing the law demonstrated that he was no better than the pagan Gentile. It was effectively the same thing as if he had never been circumcised in the first place. Since he had not kept the law perfectly, he could look forward to spending eternity in the lake of fire, except for God's provision of righteousness by faith.

Romans 2:26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

In verse 26 Paul draws a logical inference from what he has written in verse 25 and is understood in the sense of consequently or accordingly.

If the uncircumcision means if the Gentiles who do not have the law

Keep is used in the sense of keep from being broken. Hence, it means observe or follow.

The righteousness of the law, where righteousness is plural, means the regulations found in the law, the requirements found in law, or the commandments found in law.

Shall not his uncircumcision be counted for (i.e. regarded as or considered as) circumcision? The picture is of a Gentile who has not been circumcised but who does what the law says in spite of the fact that he is a Gentile. His uncircumcision will be viewed as if he had actually been circumcised. This question in verse 26 expects a positive answer - Yes, it will.

Romans 2:27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

In verse 27 Paul shows that an uncircumcised person who keeps the law is superior to a circumcised person who does not keep the law. In fact, he is actually a testimony against the Jew who breaks the law.

Uncircumcision which is by nature is physical uncircumcision. It's the way a baby boy comes out of his mother's womb.

If it fulfil the law suggests if keeping the law, if carrying out the law, if accomplishing the law, or if performing the law.

Judge thee is condemn you, i.e. condemn the Jew who has been circumcised.

Who by the letter and circumcision suggests who, accompanied by the letter and circumcision or who, with the advantage of the letter and circumcision, or who with the advantage of the letter and circumcision. Letter refers to the law. In the law the Jew had a written statement of God's will.

Dost transgress the law means oversteps the law or breaks the law.

Although the Jew did not keep the law, he thought he was safe because of his circumcision.

Matthew 7:21-23 - (21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Do some trust in baptism or the Lord's Supper to make them safe? Do they trust in the salvation of their parents or in their church membership, perhaps in their confirmation? These people are not safe from the consequences of sin without being genuinely converted by the blood of Christ.

They presume that they are safe from judgment, but their presumption is false. It is wrong. The only thing that will help them is their relationship to Christ.

II. CIRCUMCISION MUST BE THE HEART - 2:28-29

Romans 2:28-29 - (28) For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: (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 he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly means that his being circumcised did not make him a Jew. One is not a Jew by virtue of the external symbol of circumcision.

Neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh means that circumcision is more than physical.

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.

But indicates a strong contrast with what is said in verse 28.

Circumcision is merely the sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham; it is not the covenant itself. Unfortunately, the meaning of the covenant was forgotten, and the symbol became all-important. As a result, the religion of these Jews had become completely external. By contrast one who has a true heart relationship with God is said to be a true Jew.

He is a Jew, which is one inwardly refers to one who has a true heart relationship with God. He is a Jew in his heart.

True circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit. It is spiritual rather than physical.

Not in the letter means not in the law.

Whose praise is not of men, but of God indicates that one whose heart has been circumcised, not literally but spiritually, is the one who will be praised by God. By contrast, the Jew has been seeking the praise of men rather than the praise of God because his religion is external.

What is wrong with much that is called worship in many churches today?

a. People may worship the form, forgetting what it stands for.

b. Worship becomes a psychological mood - organ, stained glass, aesthetic architecture, quiet solemnity but not from the heart.

c. The worshipers are spiritually dead. They are unsaved; so, no real worship takes place.

We must be careful that we are never guilty of just going through the motions of worshiping God.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:1-5 - Church at Ephesus

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:1-5 - (1) Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; (2) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: (3) And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. (4) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (5) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

CONCLUSION:

Are you presuming that you are all right with God, or are you genuinely saved? You need to be certain that you are genuinely saved because your sin is going to be judged, either in Christ or by Christ.

Those who trust Christ as Savior have already had their sins judged in Christ in His crucifixion on the cross. Their sins have been completely and forever forgiven.

Those who do not trust Christ as Savior will have their sins judged in themselves at the Great White Throne judgment and are then cast into the lake of fire.

I remember a story a barber told me when I was in my teens. A soldier was asking him if he thought his haircut would pass inspection the next day. The barber said he didn't think it would, but the soldier decided that it would; so, he didn't get his hair cut as short as the barber recommended. The next day he failed the inspection because the one doing the inspecting just happened to be the barber.

A day is coming when your sins will be judged. Christ died to pay for your sins, and He will forgive them if you receive Him as your Savior by believing that He died on the cross to pay for your sins and rose again from the dead. Otherwise, He will be your judge.

Have you had a genuine heart experience with God and entrusted yourself to Him by receiving Christ as your Savior from sin and its consequences?

Are you going in the right direction in your Christian life, or are you just going through the motions?