As we continue to look at the book of Romans, Paul asks another important question about the righteousness God imparts to us by faith. He has already pointed out how blessed we are to receive it.
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.
The apostle asks us who, exactly, is blessed by this righteousness. He’s been using Abraham as an example for us. But, what was it about Abraham that put him in a position to receive this righteousness?
Was it because he followed all the religious rules that he’d been given?
Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!
Paul answers the question for us. God credited Abraham with righteousness before he ever started following any religious observances. All he needed to do was believe that God’s Word was truth.
That’s good news. There’s no indication that Abraham had to continually try harder and harder until he was finally good enough to please God. He was declared righteous in his uncircumcised condition.
If that’s the case, then why are there so many religious things that people do? Is there a place for them? Or are all religious observances to be done away with?
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. 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.
Here Paul explains the place of religious observances. They come after faith has been given and righteousness is received.
According to Paul, circumcision – the religious act is a sign. This means that the outward observance is an indication of the change that took place on the inside.
What we do on the outside, is a seal of the righteousness received by faith. A seal is the official stamp that confirms the genuineness of the item in question.
If I really believe that God’s Word is truth, then it will show up in my actions. I don’t live right to obtain God’s blessing. I live right because I’ve already received it.
There are many so called “religious” things that Christians do. What we need to realize is that we don’t do them to get God to accept us. These observances only serve to support the fact that we are accepted already by faith in Jesus Christ.
Don’t get it backwards. That only brings frustration, guilt, and condemnation. Come to the Lord in faith, trusting Him for His righteousness.
Then allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen you to walk in obedience to God’s Word. That will be the outward sign of the inner transformation that’s taken place within you.
Question: How do you yield to the Holy Spirit’s life-changing work?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi