Romans 2:25-29 commentary and application
25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Rom 2:25-29
One of the obstacles that Paul faces with the Jews is the very same one that Christ faced. They believed that because they were the children of Abraham, they had the law, heard the law read, and were circumcised that they were the people of God. Jesus had to address this in many times but one of the most obvious ones was in John chapter 8:33-45-
33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
Here we see the Jews banking their righteousness on being the physical seed of Abraham and all the things that came with that (having the law, circumcision, etc). Jesus tells them that they are indeed Abraham’s PHYSICAL seed (vs 37) but that they are SPIRITUALLY the seed of the devil (vs 44). They have not had the new birth (John 3:5-6), the circumcision of the heart, the inward change that comes from the Holy Spirit through the gospel and Christ to cause true faith. They did not have true saving faith but instead were only God’s people outwardly not inwardly. Paul is trying to make this same point in telling these Jews that the outward signs do not matter to God that they could have all the outer markings of the people of God but that they are just in need of a Savior and reconciliation with God apart from the law as the Gentiles are. They too need Christ!
Do not bank on having all the outward markings of a believer for salvation. Many people are born into a Christian home, get baptized at a young age, go to church on Sunday, etc. These are not the things that make you a Christian. What is in your heart makes you a Christian. Do you do these things out of a dead heart with no real love for God or His word but because it’s a “ritual” to you or an outward marking that you are saved? Or do you do this because you have a circumcised heart and truly desire to follow God, love Him, and love His people? We do have seasons of hot and cold in life let us think about where we are in our walk with Christ today. If we see that we are simply doing things so that we fulfill the outward marks of being a Christian let us ask God to renew in us that inner fire for Him!
If you are a parent do you just assume your child will be Christian because you are? Do you teach them at home, pray with them, read the word with them, or are you just thinking that because they are your physical offspring they will be saved? Let us not just depend on the outward markings for our children but put in diligent effort to bring the gospel to them and see them experience saving faith of their own!
Many modern day dispensational churches teach that Jews have a different covenant with God and that the Jews are the people of God just because they trace their physical lineage to Abraham. This contradicts what scripture says. Does you church teach this? How does this compare with what Paul has laid out here and what Jesus Himself said in John?
Paul was trying to break the Jews of the habit of comparing themselves with how bad the gentiles were to convince themselves that they would be proved righteous by their works. Even after being saved and being convinced of our need for Christ this is a trap that we can very easily fall into. We can look at the unsaved world around us and look down on them and boost our view of our own righteousness. Instead we need to remember that without Christ we would be just as lost as those in the world. We should be driven with compassion for those who are without Christ around us knowing that our righteousness is not of the law but of grace. We should have a desire to see others come into the grace of Christ like we have! Do you see areas in your life that you look down on the lost instead of having compassion on them?