Saturday, 14 May 2016
Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. Galatians 5:2
In the previous verse, Paul implored the Galatians to stand firm in the freedom by which Christ had made them free. He further warned them to not allow themselves to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. He was specifically speaking of adhering to deeds of the law as a means of being pleasing to God. Now he says, “Indeed I, Paul…”
He dogmatically asserts, under the authority of his apostleship, that what he is about to say is to be held to as absolutely assured, and it is to be taken as the strictest of doctrine for the New Covenant believer. It was he who first preached to the Galatians, bringing them the message of Christ whom he had personally encountered. He was a circumcised Jew and a meticulous adherer to the Law of Moses before that day. But now he had come to realize what faith in Christ involved. With that knowledge, and with his divinely appointed commission, he now will give words of warning.
They are words which resound throughout the ages in this precious epistle – “…if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” Paul uses circumcision as the standard for his argument against adhering to the Law of Moses. It was so intricately tied up with the law that it was comparable to baptism for the New Covenant believer. If one were to say, “I will be circumcised in order to please God as the Law of Moses says,” then it would indicate that the work of Christ, in fulfillment of the law, was of no value at all to that person.
Circumcision was a sign which only pointed to the coming Christ. Eventually, it became a mandate of the law itself. As He fulfilled the picture which circumcision formed, and as He fulfilled the mandate of circumcision found in the law, then there was no need for the rite any longer. Its purpose was fulfilled. As this is so, then it is a rite which was to no longer be practiced for earning points with God. It was no longer a sign of covenant life.
Having said this, Paul’s mentioning of circumcision is given in relation to the law. He is not saying that someone couldn’t get circumcised as a cultural aspect of life, nor is he saying that a person couldn’t get circumcised as a standard of health as is practiced today. For such reasons, there is no limitation or warning. Paul is speaking of being circumcised as a means of obtaining justification in addition to the work of Christ.
Life application: If someone tells you that your uncircumcision needs to be corrected in order for you to be pleasing to God, tell them, “Circumcision… we don’t need no circumcision! We have Christ!”
O God! Your word tells us that circumcision of the heart is what makes us pleasing to You. The types and pictures of the Old Covenant only pointed to the coming Christ. Well, He came! In Him is fulfilled every type and every picture of ages past and of a law which is now set aside in Him. Thank You for the grace of Jesus Christ who has set aside the law which stood against us. Thank You for worship in Spirit and in truth! Amen.