Circumcision of the Heart – The Third Sunday of Pentecost

let us pray Heavenly Father we come to
you in humility and did we ask your
spirit to move on our heart and humble
us more come together in prayer and
worship we come to meet with you
and come to do business with God we come
to keep short accounts father please let
your word speak to us not just speak to
our sin and call us to repent but speak
to who we are as a person and remind us
that for God so loved the world that He
gave His only Son that whoever believes
in him not perish but have eternal life
father did this promise we cling and all
God’s people said and please be seated
I spent some time when I was in college
I had the opportunity to travel abroad
and to study abroad and the place I
chose was Israel particularly Jerusalem
and so I did a semester in my junior
year in Jerusalem in it was a time that
was very impactful on me as a Christian
and as a person I mean there there’s a
certain devotional advantage when you
you know want to read the book of
Matthew and you go up on them olives and
you read it and you can see about almost
every place where those things happened
even those those buildings and things
aren’t there anymore
you can see some of the ruins that was
the city that Jesus did these things
since so there’s that but on top of it
too was a time where I was in immersed
in the culture of Israel and immersed in
some of the theology of the Old
Testament and one day there and the what
they called The Jerusalem University
College where I was taking classes I sat
down in the library with my Bible and I
decided to read Deuteronomy looking out
this picturesque window over a valley
called the the Hinnom Valley and this is
the historic Valley where you get the
name Gehenna for hell it was the trash
kind of the trash dump in Jesus’s day
and there was all kinds of the bad place
back then it was a bad place in ancient
Israel where Israel had sacrificed their
own children
not unlike what our culture is starting
to do today but in a different way but
as I read through I came across these
verses here in Deuteronomy
we read this morning where God says in
the first circumcised therefore the
foreskin of your heart and you no longer
stubborn and on the other hand he says
he will circumcise our hearts and you
know my you know up until that time I
had read this idea of circumcision of
the heart in the New Testament and I
realized that what Paul is doing is he’s
not saying something radically different
from the Old Testament but in fact he’s
saying exactly the same message that God
has always been saying to his people and
that’s very important to us as
Christians is a a common misconception
out there that the way you earned God’s
favor in the Old Testament was by
keeping the law and then when Jesus
comes that somehow changed and now it’s
grays and it reminds me of the time
while I was there in Jerusalem and I was
talking with me and some friends we’re
talking with a rabbi and we got on the
subject of the temple and the the issue
of sacrifice and atonement and so you
know I being a young college student I
thought I might be a little clever and
wanted to see if I the rabbi a little
bit and I said okay well you don’t have
a temple today so how do you obtain
forgiveness for your sins and he without
a like he said through repentance the
repentance
which is another way to say circumcision
at the heart and being a man who was
steeped in the Old Testament he
understand what the heart of the law is
but the heart of the law is is calling
us to know Jesus to know God in an
intimate way and an authentic way an
authentic way you see if the gospel
changes you it will change everything
everything if nothing just then it’s not
the gospel nothing in our life changes
it’s not the gospel if it is the gospel
if the gospel is real it will impact us
in all our relationships it will impact
first how we relate to cut and then it
will impact how we relate to each other
because the circumcision of the heart
idea aims that arrow-straight at the
heart for us to begin with repentance a
humbling of ourselves if you what we
talked about last week the one big
takeaway i talked about was let’s begin
in our conflicts and our relationships
with the idea I may be wrong because
that’s never how we begin right we
always begin with I’m right you’re wrong
and I shared with you you know the CS
Lewis’s ideas about quarreling when he
opens up his famous work mere
christianity is that we all begin with
the idea of being right and we always
begin with the idea of justifying
ourselves that we’re right and as I said
the book of Romans here is the hole it’s
the it’s the Magna Carta it’s the it is
the great constitution of justification
by faith that God justifies the ungodly
and that we that you now in Christ when
you are baptized into cry as Nicky soon
will be you are a new creation and you
don’t have to justify yourself God
defends you and he doesn’t defend you
because you’re better or you’re right
than the next person he defends you
because he’s covered you in his own
blood
and so what is Paul doing in the book of
Romans he’s he’s driving a point that
the point is that nothing else matters
except this pure gospel this
justification and this is very important
for us as Christians because there’s a
lot of things we do as Christians will
call them Christian trappings that are
not wrong and they’re allowable but it’s
very easy for them to replace the gospel
itself it’s very easy for our
preferences within the church to somehow
hijack the gospel and we become
uncharitable about things
Jesus is not all that interested in he’s
fine but there’s a hot there’s a
thousands of churches millions of
churches worshiping this morning in all
slightly different ways when Jesus is
read is receiving that worship with a
smile
it’s a Paul is about demolishing our
religious trappings and false confidence
in those trappings be they our works or
the way we do things and so we have the
same problems
see Paul aims his guns at distraught
destroying all false confidence all
false confidence
look at verse 17 with me here in Romans
he says but if you call yourself a Jew
and rely the law and boast in God and
know his will and approve what is
excellent because you were instructed
from the law and if you are sure that
you yourself are a guide to the blind
and a light to those who are in darkness
and structor foolish a teacher of
children having in the law and
embodiment of the knowledge in truth now
what is Paul doing here well he’s
talking about someone’s reliance upon
the law talking about a well catechized
a well-trained Jew at this time but
what’s happened is the entire role of
the law has been turned on its head it’s
circumvented its role he says but if you
call yourself a Jew and rely upon the
law well what does rely mean well to
rely means to trust or to lean upon to
rely and and trust something is is in
the same way that you’re sitting on a
Pew right now you sat down on it because
you had a pretty you had a pretty
logical hypothesis having sat in these
pews quite a few times that it would
hold your weight and not let you go
plummeting to the floor now what Paul is
saying is you have that same kind of
faith that’s this person has that same
kind of faith in the law but here’s the
problem here’s the little short circuit
the short circuit is is that the person
doesn’t realize having confidence in the
law they’re like well I’ve learned the
law I’ve been trained all these years
yeah like I know this I got this I got
this now I can stick the landing
right and what’s happened is
short-circuit because when we are
putting our confidence in something like
the law it’s because we think we have a
competence with it we think we have a
competence into what it’s now is this
person is not really having confidence
in the law they’re having confidence in
themselves and their own ability to do
the law and what Paul’s going to do is
go you don’t understand the law at all
if you understood the law you’d have no
confidence in yourself and you would be
on your knees with your hands raised to
heaven like the tax collector in the
temple who beat his chest and said Oh
Lord forgive me a sinner but the person
he’s talking to here is like the
Pharisee in that parallel Bo says oh god
I’m glad that I am not like other men
that you have made me bla bla bla and on
it goes and what Paul saying well you don’t
understand the law if you rely upon the
law can’t keep the law there’s no one
who has ever fully kept the law in its
perfection except Jesus our Lord and
that’s the way a reason he is the only
one who can be an atoning sacrifice
first because you have to be perfect
how perfect as good is God is perfect so
my question to you this morning is what
is your confidence
what are you relying upon what are you
nesting upon
as your assurance what you feel assured
of your hope and your salvation what makes
you feel assured of that what Paul is
going to tell us number one our
confidence is in Christ alone our
confidence is 100% in Christ alone and
as I heard one preacher say one one time
is the gospel plus nothing if it’s plus
nothing equals everything and Jesus plus
something equals nothing would you get
that Jesus plus nothing equals something
because what we’re doing is we’re adding
something to the work and there’s
nothing you can add to the work of Jesus
there’s nothing you can do and so
our confidence we often place in and one
of those things we do is the sin of
comparison right we compare ourselves
and so what’s standard the question is
what standard are we using to compare
ourselves and in this case the Jewish
person was using an outward simple and
oversimplified outward reading of the
law well I’m gonna do all the outward
stuff but Paul’s gonna go to the knot
the circumcision of the flesh but the
circumcision of the heart that sneaky
little devil in our heart that’s always
darting this way and that that’s having
suspicious untrusting feelings toward
our neighbor toward our spouse toward
our friend doubts toward God jealousies
and our relationships those are the
respectable sins that people don’t see
as much and they sneak by everybody
else’s radar but they’re there and they
are the bigger sins that actually keep
us distant from God that they’re the the
cookies in the cookie jar that we don’t
want to let go of and so the question is
is what standard are we using this self
justify and we just don’t understand the
law because when we when we get into the
law we begin to see oh well I break it
there I break it there I break it there
I break it there and the law as Paul
says in Galatians is a schoolmaster a
teacher to bring us to Christ that for
the Christian there is no condemnation
to those who are in Christ Jesus who
walk not according to the flesh but
according to the law of the spirit of
life in Christ Jesus has made me free
from the law of sin and death and so
that’s why our confidence must be in
Christ alone and so he goes on he says
you then who teach others do you not
teach yourself while you preach against
stealing
you steal you who say that one must not
commit adultery do you commit adultery
you who abhor idols do you rob temples
you who boast in the law do you dishonor
God by breaking the law for as it is
written the name of God is blasphemed
among the Gentiles through you he talks
about this as if as if breaking the law
a law for Christians and that’s what
he’s going to talk about is this law of
sin and death because because of the
fall we have original sin and a sin
nature and we fall it back habitually in
Chapter seven Paul’s gonna say the sin I
don’t want to do I do anyways and the
sin that the good things I would do I do
not
that’s the Apostle Paul and in fact he
quotes here he says the name blast
beamed among the Gentiles through you
from second Samuel 12 14 its target this
is the prophet Samuel talking to David
God’s God’s enemies have cause to
blaspheme now you have this problem that
we get a little bit of knowledge and
that we think we’re doing it do you
remember that
remember when you were learning to ride
the bike remember you’re riding a bike
and that first time you really get going
and now you you got it what do you do
I’m doing
doing it and you really were
you were what the law is not like that
the law is not like riding a bike
you know you never really forget how to
ride a bike and once you got it down you
got it down but the law is not like that
the law is like alice’s rabbit hole that
goes deeper and deeper and deeper into
the recesses of our art mix more and
more and more and that’s our second
point is we have a radical bride
blindness to our own law-breaking
we have a radical blindness to our own
sin and law-breaking you see we’re not
to begin with I am right but we’re to
begin with well I may be wrong and
that’s the beginning of repentance in
the Christian life when we hit conflict
when we strife when we hit friction in
our relationships do we begin with this
is ugly
I may be wrong what could I do you know
when somebody comes to us and say hey
you know hon whenever I talk to you
about this but whenever I say something
like this to you you you do this have
you noticed that we immediately justify
right not well that’s because of you
right we turn it back around and that’s
normal for us why because we don’t want
to be wrong we weren’t born to be wrong
let me just encourage you with that you
weren’t you weren’t made to be wrong I
didn’t make us to be born he made the
world to be right all the strife that’s
going on right now in the world all the
fear we’re all wearing masks cuz of the
fall but people are fighting in the
streets there’s people who’ve taken over
9 city blocks and Seattle why because
they’re somewhere they know something’s
wrong in the world and the only
difference between a Christian and
anyone else in the world is that that
the gospel is saying Jesus is the answer
Jesus is the answer Jesus is going heal
everything and he’s going to make you
right you’ll never have the self justify
in the kingdom of God he will be
absolutely clean your sin will be as far
as from the east to the west and you
will be perfect and that is your destiny
that was always your destiny and it got
shortchanged by sin but Jesus has given
it back he’s giving back all the years
and the generations at the locus that’s
eaten the kingdom of God and it’s
righteousness is yours
it’s yours
and so he says in verse 25 he says for
circumcision indeed is a value if you
obey the law but if you break the law
your circumcision becomes uncircumcision
and he says in verse 26 if a man who is
uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the
law will not his uncircumcision be
regarded as circumcision
this is a really important one because
what he’s saying is is that even though
this person may not be circumcised in
flesh that if they are a keeper of the
law and what he means is a keeper of the
law by faith you have to understand this
whole argument here he’s not saying all
of these just going out and doing the
outward things what he’s talking about
is the circumcision of the heart and
he’s he’s arguing with his Jewish
adversaries this will not the person who
keeps the law be regarded as circumcised
because they have the faith of Abraham
and the answer is yes and the word he
uses for regarded there is very
important it’s one of the most
illogically important words in Romans
it’s the same word in Romans 4 3 where
it says for what does the scripture say
but abraham believed God and it was
regarded to him as righteousness
I wanted to him as righteousness or as
Martin Luther put it it was imputed to
him as righteous that means as as Luther
said simultaneously sinful and yet
justified that’s our life right now
until we die or enter the kingdom of God
we are simultaneously still struggling
with sin and the flesh and yet justified
in the sight of God when God looks at
you who are in Christ he doesn’t see
your sin anymore sees is Jesus and that
is really good news because I don’t want
God to see any but Jesus in me because
if he sees just me I’m in trouble
amen
Jesus God sees Jesus that’s his
compassion that’s his love and so God
calls us to a circumcision of the heart
to live by faith in the Son of God and
so he says here in verse 28 for no one
is a Jew who is merely one outwardly nor
is circumcision outward and physical but
a Jew is one inwardly and circumcision
is a matter of the heart by the spirit
and not by the letter whose praise is
not from man but from God and I love
that he is a Jew who’s one inwardly and
circumcision is a matter of the heart
that is the justifying faith that he’s
talking about and that is what Jesus is
calling us into this morning nobody in
the Old Testament was justified by
keeping the law
nobody was justified by being
circumcised nobody in the New Testament
is saved by merely being baptized or by
even attending church church helps us to
grow in our sanctification but we’re
justified by faith in work of Jesus and
it’s because of that God can wipe away
every tear that he gives us what loots
are called an alien righteousness a
righteousness that foreign to me but
it’s mine
and it’s yours this morning a man
brothers and sisters let’s continue our
worship

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