Thursday, 24 July 2014
Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 1 Corinthians 7:18
In the previous verse, this was noted: “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk.” In addition to the verses which preceded this thought and which pertained to marriage, Paul now gives other real-life examples of what he means, beginning with circumcision.
To the Jews, circumcision was the sign of the covenant and a sign of being the covenant people. It was first given to Abraham and it was noted at that time that “…the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” Genesis 17:14
Throughout the history of Israel, circumcision continued to be used as a standard by which the faithful were measured. To those Jews or proselytes to Judaism who came to Christ and who were already circumcised, Paul directs, “Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised.”
It might be that some converts to Christ may have been anxious to do away with the badge of their previous life in Judaism and go to a surgeon in an attempt to change what had been previously been marked upon them in this way. Paul says that this shouldn’t be considered. Rather, he is asked to remember that as the Lord called him while circumcised, so let him walk in that circumcision.
And the reciprocal is true as well. He next states, “Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised.” For those gentiles who were coming into the faith, Paul now gives the amazing words of release from this ancient rite by stating that their condition, at the time of their calling, was of higher importance than that of the rite of circumcision.
To understand this, it needs to be remembered that we are saved by grace through faith. To attempt to earn God’s favor through circumcision would be to set aside the grace of God in an attempt to be justified by the works of human hands. Paul spends much of the book of Galatians explaining this and calls such attempts out as heresy. And to those who require such things, he notes them as heretics who proclaim “a different gospel, which is not another” (Galatians 1:6, 7). Rather it is something which is accursed.
Life application: Let us again consider Paul’s words “as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk.” Did you have a tattoo when you came to Christ? If so, don’t let someone bully you into thinking that you must have it removed. Did you eat pork before you came to Christ? Don’t let anyone tell you that you must now stop. There are things which should be changed, but they are explained in Scripture. Those things which are not mandated to be changed are things which we are at liberty to keep just as they are.
Heavenly Father, I love the freedom I have in Christ. I was accepted by You by mere faith in His work and His ability to save. I will cling fast to that freedom and always remember that I was saved by grace through faith, and that it was all from You. Help me to continuously remember that I cannot “earn” your favor through any works, nor can I add to it in any way. Instead, I am saved, remain saved, and will never lose that precious salvation – all because of the work of Another, my Lord Jesus! Hallelujah and Amen.