Romans 4:9b-11a We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.
The covenant that Abraham had with God was symbolized by circumcision. This physical change to his body was a constant reminder to Abraham of God’s covenant promise to him and to his descendants. Father children would entail trust in God to bring about the fulfillment of the covenant promises. He is also reminded that all he has and all he could hope for in the future were dependent upon God. He would now submit himself to God as His servant. It was now his duty to “father” a spiritual family who trusted themselves also into the hands of God.
The Church has many rites or practices that are merely outward symbols of what God has accomplished inside his people. The early Jewish Christians demanded that the Gentile Christians be circumcised to satisfy the Jewish law. Today, we too spend much time arguing over outer signs rather than focusing on the inner changes. The mode of baptism, the proper elements for communion, should prayers be offered when kneeling or standing, should hands be lifted in praising God, which bible translation is to be used and other issues seem to monopolize much of our time.
The outer practices do not change us. They are, however, reflective of the person who has changed by God’s intervention in their persons. No amount of Church activity or displays of piety will save a person’s soul. No amount of water can wash away your sins. No amount of hours sacrificed to volunteering at a local club, community dinner or church will earn you God’s forgiveness. Only the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ can cleanse us and bring restoration to our relationship with God. Only the presence of the Holy Spirit in us will bring about the inner heart and soul change that will bring us into conformity with God’s will for our lives.
Stop putting your efforts into outward rituals or righteous activities. Start by placing your hope and heart in the hands of Jesus Christ, the only One with the power for your inner change and outward transformation.