Intro: In our passage today, the Apostle Paul has been talking to the Jews in Rome about their spiritual “sclerosis” or the hardening of their hearts. What causes a person to have a spiritually hard heart? According to Scripture, it is a refusal to repent of sin and accept the only way to forgiveness and salvation—Jesus Christ (Ro 2:4). Believers—the redeemed—are rescued by faith in the saving influence of the Spirit. Human deeds only reveal the evidence of salvation; righteous actions consistent with the Word of God are undeniably seen in the lives of the redeemed. What message do people get about God when they look at your life?
Circumcision refers to the sign of God’s special covenant with his people and it was something God required for all Jewish males. During this time, the Jews felt because they were descendants of Abraham and had been circumcised, they would enjoy a saving relationship with God. Therefore, they believed they could live any way they wanted and be sure of their salvation. However, Paul reminds them the outward act of circumcision was nothing without the inward circumcision to the heart [obedience to God’s Word]. The saving influence of the Spirit comes to cut [circumcise] unrighteous things out of the lives of God’s people that rebel against His Word or Testimony. So, Paul urges his Jewish brothers not to violate their consciences by sin and continually living in hypocrisy (Ro 2:21-23). To continually violate a conscience leads to spiritual “sclerosis,” a quenching of the Holy Spirit’s work, and a desensitizing of one’s moral compass. A hard heart leads a person into suffering and self-destruction; they are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God (Eph 4:18).
A true child of God and a true descendant of Abraham is a person who has allowed the Spirit to cut away or separate him/her from sin in order to live for God. Salvation is the work of the Spirit who convicts us of sin and does the necessary heart surgery—something we could never do for our selves. May we live in the Spirit with changed hearts—a genuine desire to please God. Practicing our faith in the Word and inward work of the Spirit is the true Way to salvation. When we live this way, we send a beautiful message of who God actively is within us.
Romans 2:25-29 (NLT)
25 The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God’s law. But if you don’t obey God’s law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. 26 And if the Gentiles obey God’s law, won’t God declare them to be his own people? 27 In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God’s law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God’s law but don’t obey it.
28 For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. 29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
Prayer: Lord, clearly You desire our heartfelt devotion and obedience to Your Word. Holy Spirit, stir that desire in all of Your children, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.