Summary: When God covenants with us, there has to be a mark, but where?
· When God made this powerful covenant with Abraham, He demanded a physical sign of the covenant, a mark that set the person apart as a carrier of the covenant.
· God could have asked for many different signs - he could have asked for a pierced ear, but it is not a covenant of idle words and no action; He could have asked for a nose ring, but it is not a covenant of sensory perceptions; He could have asked for a tattoo, but this is not a covenant of skin-deep superficiality - He asked for circumcision and did so for a reason.
· The covenant of salvation we have with our God is a covenant of reproduction, and so it stood to reason that a genital alteration was required.
· It symbolised a cutting away of the old life and a commitment to renewal in Christ.
· In Joshua 5 when a whole new generation of Israelites had to be brought into the covenant, the circumcision had to be performed again, and when it was done God said to them ’I have rolled away the reproach of your past’, and they named the place Gilgal.
· When Jesus came to earth, it was to fulfill the laws and prophecies of old and to usher in a new dispensation, a new deal where the shedding of blood would no longer be necessary for entry into the covenant of eternal life.
· The Bible tells us that no more blood ever has to be shed so that salvation can result - Jesus ’ blood was all the bloodshed that will ever be needed.
· So if we now have a covenant that no longer requires a ritual circumcision, what does the New Testament say about rolling away the reproach and sin from our past?
Romans 2: 25-29
· This says to us that outer signs are of little consequence if the heart has not been changed - no longer does blood have to be shed, but now it becomes an issue of the heart.
Colossians 2: 9-12
· So what do we get from this today?
· Firstly, that when we covenant with Christ, He performs in us a circumcision of our hearts and every sin we ever committed is rolled away and separated from us.
· Secondly, we see that if outer markings are no longer of relevance, we need to learn to stop trying to enforce a policy that is nom longer in operation.
· When Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians, he was tackling this self-same problem, because they were saying that faith in Christ is not enough for salvation - a male also needs to be circumcised.
· This whole implication is flawed, because it implies no salvation is available to women, and it had already been said that in Christ there is no longer slave nor free, male nor female - in other words each needs to be in a relationship with Jesus for themselves and could not be in on the covenant because of the husbands circumcision as in days of old.
· In the Greek tradition a child was watched over by a guardian, but this guardian was always inferior to the parent.
· The Law of the Old testament was a guardian for a period, but was an inferior guardian to Jesus Christ
· When the child was old enough for the guardian to be dismissed, it was a day of rejoicing as it symbolised maturity for the child.
· When we as Christians start to put restraints and rules into our faith, we are re-employing the inferior guardian and dismissing Jesus.
· Our spiritual maturity comes when we live with grace in our hearts - we live by grace-righteousness, not works-righteousness.
· The Judaizers in Galatia criticised the Christians in Galatia as they did not look like they ought - in other words they didn’t conform to a pattern
· When we start to say that you need to look a certain way, dress a certain way, speak a certain way, do church a certain way, we are displaying our immaturity because we are still wanting the restraints of a guardian to help us to live, when Jesus came to give us life and set us free.
· As true believers we live by the leading of the spirit, which we cannot see - an immature person needs the rules and laws that they can see - like a child on a bike with stabilise wheels.
· When we are in Christ we are new creatures and we walk in the ways of God because of a relationship, not because of a rulebook.
· If you need traditions and liturgies to keep your faith afloat, your faith is in serious trouble.