Summary: A sermon which tries to address justification, sanctification and God's transforming salvific work in those who will respond to God's love.
Deuteronomy 30:6, 11-14
“Circumcision of the Heart”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN eastridgeumc.org
How many times have you read about something someone did, whether it be in the newspaper or on the internet or maybe you watched a report on the news and said, out loud or in your mind, “How stupid can you get?”
It is hard to believe some of the blunders that, otherwise very intelligent and perhaps successful, people can make!!!
How many politicians have fallen due to doing something really, really stupid?
Or how about clergy persons?
No one is exempt.
Sometimes there are teachers who do really stupid and hard to understand things that get them in trouble, fired or jailed.
CEO’s of big companies sometimes fall with a loud bang or thwack!!!
Husbands and wives do “stupid things” all the time.
Marriages sometimes end over stupid mistakes and decisions.
People lose so much over something so “stupid”!!!!
“How stupid can you get?”
Well, sadly, the answer with respect to all of us is that we can all get pretty stupid!
We can know the right thing to do, and be completely committed to it, and yet go and do the exact opposite.
Crazy, is it not?
The author of Deuteronomy knew abundantly clear that life is characterized by this kind of tension, and sees that this is how it will continue to be with Israel.
And many of the Jews of Paul’s day had studied what Deuteronomy says very carefully.
They were hoping to find out what God was going to do for them after all the years they had suffered at the hands of other nations.
But why did they study Deuteronomy to find that out?
Deuteronomy 28, 29 and 30 come near the end of Moses’ leadership before the Israelites enter the Promised Land.
These chapters tell the story of what is going to happen to Israel…
…not what has happened.
If Israel keeps God’s commandments, God promises blessings; if they don’t God warns of bad things to come.
What’s more, Moses solemnly predicts that Israel will disobey God, and that the people will be driven out of the Promised Land, sent off into exile.
But then Deuteronomy Chapter 30 contains another promise which God commits God’s Self to.
When Israel has gone into exile, they might think everything is finished; but God promises that if they turn back to God even while they are in exile, God will rescue them.
And it will all be God’s doing.
God will transform the people.
God will change their hearts, so that they can at last keep God’s law.
It won’t be a matter of the people needing to climb up to heaven in order to get at the law, and they won’t have to travel across the sea to find it.
It will come and find them!!!
Then the exile will be over; the curse will be undone; Israel will be saved!!!
But what will it look like when this happens?
This question gnawed away at Jewish thinkers because many of them believed that they were still suffering the curses of Deuteronomy Chapter 29, with foreigners ruling over them and all.
They longed for God’s promise to come to fruition, they longed for God to circumcise their hearts so that they could truly love the Lord and be saved by God.
And Paul, in Romans Chapter 10 is declaring that God’s Promise has come in Jesus Christ Himself!!!
Paul is saying, “You don’t have to go up to heaven because Jesus has already come to you.
You don’t have to go down to the depths because Jesus has already been raised from the dead!
Jesus is God’s gift of grace, like the original law but completely new!!!
And all who openly acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead, are already wearing the badge which declares, right now, that they are saved by God, vindicated by God and are God’s people.”
But this isn’t just some acknowledgement we make.
It’s not something we are born into, like being a Presbyterian since birth.
It’s not some formula or bit of magic words.
What matters is whether the heart is being changed and the life is being transformed.
And it’s not always easy.
Sometimes it’s very difficult.
Many mistakes will be made.
Indeed, we can’t do it on our own.
Some of the most awesome words in the Gospels are from the man who claimed, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
And for Jesus that was and is enough!!!
It only takes a spark!
God wants us that bad.
And God knows us better than we know ourselves.
And God knows we cannot save ourselves.
It’s time we stopped trying to do just that, and allowed Jesus to be Lord!