God established a special relationship, called the covenant, with Abraham and the future members of his family. As evidence of that relationship, God told Abraham that he and the male members of his family should carry out circumcision (Genesis chapter 17). Circumcision is the minor operation that cuts a small piece of skin from the male sex part. The Jews are the people who come from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They still obey that instruction today, and they are right to do it. It is a mark of their nationís relationship with God.
However, no mark on a person's body can cause that person to love God or to obey him. No ceremony can cause a person to do what God really wants; that is, to serve God with a willing heart (attitude). Therefore, no ceremony and no physical act can give a person a right relationship with God.
To achieve that, there needs to be a much deeper change in a personís life. Jesus said that a person must be born again (John 3:3). Jeremiah said that God would put his law in peopleís minds and hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). If Godís law is in a personís heart, then that person will truly desire to obey him. That is the kind of relationship that God wants to have with his people.
The first Christians were all Jews. Therefore, of course, the first Christian teachers approved of circumcision. Then many people who were not Jews became Christians. The leaders of the church discussed this matter. They decided not to ask those Christians to accept circumcision (Acts 15:1-31; Galatians 2:1-10). Therefore, at the time of the Book of Romans, many people were obeying Godís law who had not received circumcision. They did not need to worry about circumcision, because God had accepted them. They had not received circumcision of their bodies, but they had received a real relationship with God.
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© 2017, Keith Simons.