“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth- 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. Romans 2:17-29 NIV
Jesus was the Seed of Abraham. God cut a covenant with faithful Abraham and promised him that through his Seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. The devil already knew that Someone was coming, Who would bust his head (Genesis 3:15). God watched over and protected the Israelites through the generations, because of His promise to Abraham and also to ensure that the line of the Seed was protected.
Unfortunately, because God was so gracious to them, the Israelites took Him for granted. They thought of themselves more highly than they ought and put more confidence in outward shows of obedience – like circumcision – than in humbling themselves before the Lord and living truly godly lives. Many Jews received Jesus as their Lord and Savior in the book of Acts, but as for the others, their hearts were so hard that they could not recognize their Messiah when He came, nor would they receive Him. Religion and tradition can not and does not make you godly – your heart must be submitted to God. Circumcision of the flesh, alone, has no inherent spiritual value. The Bible says that a man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, but he is a Jew if he is one inwardly. The circumcision of the flesh was a type and shadow of the New Covenant and the circumcision of the heart. True circumcision – the circumcision that makes a difference in eternity – is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit.
I speak the truth in Christ-I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit- 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. 6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls-she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. Romans 9:1-16 NIV
We, as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, should guard our hearts and always remember that it is God’s grace and mercy that has saved us and is keeping us even now. We must be careful not to take God for granted as many Israelites did, and become merely religious and traditional. We are not entitled to anything from God merely because of our own desires or efforts, but simply because of His grace.