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Not by Circumcision

Words of Faith Final

Not by Circumcision
Words of Faith 8-6-2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2021
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Romans 4
    [9] Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's Faith was credited to him as righteousness. [10] Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! [11] And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by Faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. [12] And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the Faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

        To say that circumcision was important to Judaism is like saying that the U.S. flag was "meaningful" to General Patton.  It is difficult to describe how significant this ritual was to Judaism in the time of Paul.  
        Ritual circumcision was much more than a physical act; it was a spiritual sign of the covenant people that divided Jews from everyone else.  Jewish males were circumcised. Male babies were presented on the eighth day for circumcision.  
        So how could those who did not practice this fundamental rite be righteous?  Paul argues that it is not the rite of circumcision that justifies.  If so, circumcision would be a work that causes God to be indebted. It can't be so.
       Righteousness was credited to Abraham by Faith long before there was even a rite of circumcision. Abraham's age when he was declared righteous (Gen. 15:6) is not stated. Later, when Hagar bore him Ishmael, when he was 86 (Gen. 16:16), and it was even later that God instructed Abraham to perform the rite of circumcision on all his male descendants as a sign of God's Covenant with him.  This instruction came when Abraham was 99 (Gen. 17:24).
        Paul's argument is indisputable. The circumcision of Abraham followed his justification by Faith by more than 13 years.  Circumcision cannot bring about righteousness.  It was simply a seal of the righteousness that God had credited.
        But it is so easy for us to fall into the same trap.  In much of Christendom, the ritual of baptism is viewed as the "sign and seal" of God's grace.  Some even suggest that it is only in baptism that we are saved.  But such thought leads us into the very trap that Paul addressed.
       Baptism can never be more than a sign of the free gift that God had credited to us when we trust in Him by Faith. We must be careful not to view any ritual or experience in a way that detracts from the wonder of God's grace and our justification by Faith.
       Church membership, altar conversions, baptisms, confirmations, and even experiences such as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" can become ritualized to a point where we begin to think we have done something that merits the grace of God. It cannot be.

         Lord, forgive me for placing trust and Faith in anything but the shed blood of Jesus upon the cross.  Forgive me for any pride I have taken in any ritual I have entered into.  I receive Your grace, your free gift, in Jesus' name.  Amen.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)        
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2021 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.