I was baptized in a backyard pool by my high school youth pastor when I was sixteen. It was something my parents encouraged me to do when I could understand that it wasn’t about checking something off my Christian “to-do” list, but a way to acknowledge the change of heart the Holy Spirit had ignited in me. In today’s passage, Paul challenges his Jewish audience to consider the true meaning of one of their sacred ordinances, circumcision.
- Is there anything that you do only because it makes you feel better to mark it off your religious “to-do” list?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 2:25-29 (ESV)
25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- From Paul’s words in this passage, what did circumcision mean in the Jewish faith?
- Who were the “uncircumcised” that Paul was referring to? How do they factor into what Paul was saying?
- What did Paul ultimately say was the heart of the matter, when it comes to circumcision (vs. 29)?
- Do you in any way rely on traditions and religious ordinances to ensure your salvation?
RESPOND TO GOD
It’s not the simple act of baptism—or circumcision in the Jewish culture—that solidifies a person’s identity in Heaven, but the belief in Jesus’ work on the cross. Paul wasn’t saying a Jew should not be circumcised. Rather, he was challenging us all to search our hearts—to understand that a right standing before God is a matter of the heart through the work of the Spirit.
- Spend some time reflecting on what it looks like to express your faith in Christ as a response to his love rather than a rule to follow.