Genesis Sermons from Gospel Chapel Ministries HOME SERMONS SERMON NOTES
#358 GEN 17:1-14
THE COVENANT OF CIRCUMCISION, A CALL TO REPENTANCE
As pointed out in the previous chapter, it was after thirteen years of walking in impatience, human reasoning, separation from God, and hearkening to the voice of his wife that "...the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. [But the blessing is that He also said ], And I will make my covenant between me and thee..." GEN 17:1-2. This covenant refers to the covenant of circumcision.
Notice that the covenant of circumcision is a token in the flesh. Go to verse 13, which says, "He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." We need to be aware of where this covenant lays. It is "in your flesh," in other words, in your walk of life. The token of being within the covenant is ones walk of life. JOH 8:39b states, "Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 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."
In MAT 7:22-23, we find that many people claim to have done many things and had many experiences. To keep these verses in context, let's begin with verse 21. MAT 7:21 says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
Our professions and experiences are not the basis upon which we have a token or a sign or the seal (The word "seal" in the original means a mark of genuineness). We find that mark of genuineness in our walk of life, in doing the will of the Father! The Lord Jesus said "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" Look what a profession they had and what rich experiences they claimed. They all died believing they had salvation in Christ! Then in verse 23 Jesus says, "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." They had not repented of the bad attitudes or changed their walk of life. They still loved sin!
In Genesis, with the covenant of circumcision, the Lord is reproving Abram's walk of life. He has been walking for thirteen years in rebellion and darkness and separation from the Lord. Now the Lord comes with a covenant, a covenant in his flesh which is, "...walk before me, and be thou perfect. And [See the contingency here.] I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly," GEN 17:1-2.
This covenant, which was to be in the flesh, was an everlasting covenant. The nature of that covenant is that the law of God was to be written upon the fleshly tables of the heart. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people," HEB 8:10. The children of Abraham will walk according to the will of God by God's grace, i.e., by the divine influence upon their hearts that shall be seen in their walk of life. That is the covenant of circumcision.
The nature of this covenant of circumcision was not only a call to repentance, "...walk before me, and be thou perfect," but it was contingent upon that perfection of obedience. "And I will make my covenant between me and thee..." Therein, it points to the circumcision of Christ whereby He was made a debtor to do the whole law in behalf of His church. He was not only under the law, but He undertook to keep the law on our behalf in order that His obedience, His righteousness, might not only be imputed to us, but also imparted in us so that we walk in the Spirit of Christ.
When our walk of life is in the footsteps of Christ, walking in the Spirit of Christ, this is the seal or the mark of genuineness of Gods work of grace in our soul. It matters not how much of a profession we make or how much experience we claim. The mark of genuineness is that covenant in the flesh. It is based on our walk of life, the renewed spirit and mind. See how this follows through--"...walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee..."
This word "perfect" comes from the Hebrew word "tamiym" which means "integrity, truth, perfect, without spot or blemish, undefiled, upright." It means all of these things. Do you see the significance of what God is saying to Abram? The spirit in which he is to walk is that of integrity, truth, and perfection, without spot or blemish, undefiled, and upright. It is that manner of thinking, which is required. That is God's covenant in Abrahams flesh. Can you imagine why the covenant of circumcision was in such a place? A man would be reminded daily of the removing of the filthiness of the flesh? This was the covenant God made with Abraham.
Christ's bride walks "before" Him as dear children, "after" Him delighting in His service, "with" Him in blessed fellowship, and "in" Him in blessed union with Him as "His wife [which] hath made herself ready." We cannot walk with Christ and serve the world. REV 19:7-8 says, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." How? She did it by walking in integrity, with truth, without a spot, undefiled by this present evil world, upright. She made herself ready. Verse 8 continues, "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
Then our blessed Bridegroom sees His beloved bride as Solomon so blessedly described her in SON 6:9: "My dove, my undefiled [meaning we have been cleansed from this present evil world and redeemed from our iniquities.] is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her." Christ has only one bride, not a mixed multitude. Who is she? Christs bride is the undefiled. He only walks with those who have been cleansed.
After Abram had walked for thirteen years in rebellion and human reasoning, God came to call him to repentance. The previous chapter spoke of the authority of God. In GEN 17:1, He called Abram to come into reverent respect for Gods authority, "and said unto him, I am the Almighty God." Abram must no longer reason with and bow to the authority of his wife; he must come into subjection to the authority of God. God called him to repentance and gave him circumcision to illustrate the true nature of repentance.
When we learn to understand circumcision, it is the most blessed type and seal that we will find to illustrate repentance. See GEN 17:11, "And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you." There is the token, the evidence, the seal to each person of the work of regeneration. "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 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 2:28-29.
Let's study the significance of this seal. The token we see in circumcision is in its type of putting off of the body of sin. Abraham received circumcision as "...a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised," ROM 4:11. The word "seal" comes from the Greek word "sphragis," which means "the mark of genuineness."
Circumcision took away the filthiness of the flesh. In COL 2:11 we read, "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." Do you see the symbol circumcision is teaching us? It is removing the body of and the filthiness of the flesh.
Now see how this putting off of the body of sin points to repentance. Turn to ROM 6:6. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." This is the same body of sin recorded in COL 2:11. Circumcision itself points to repentance. It is the crucifying of the old man of sin, the removing the body of sin and its destruction. It is removed and cast away so one does not continue to serve sin. That is the meaning of circumcision.
To rightly understand the meaning of the covenant of circumcision, it is necessary to see how the token of the covenant points to repentance. Repentance is the token, the seal of circumcision.
Circumcision in the flesh is a type, even as the priesthood of Aaron was a type of the priestly office of Christ, and the burnt offerings were a type of the sacrifice of Christ. Circumcision points to the blessed promise and pledge that Christ would be placed under the law, perfectly obey the law, and become a debtor to do the whole law on behalf of His church. It was Christs pledge. We have the token or evidence of it in our flesh, i.e., in our walk of life. That is where we see Christ formed in us.
Scripture so clearly teaches that circumcision in the flesh was a type of repentance, a type of obedience, or a type of sanctification. In DEU 10:16 we read, "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." Do you see that the removing of the foreskin of the heart, removing the filthiness of the flesh from the heart is removing rebellion? The rebellion, which was born in paradise, must be removed. What is the result of removing that rebellion? We will walk in the service of God. That is the lesson God is teaching Abram with the covenant of circumcision. He walked thirteen years in rebellion, and that stiffnecked, rebellious spirit had to be removed; it had to be cut off and cast away. Abram would then come back into humble service of God.
The principle that salvation is contingent upon circumcision, i.e., upon repentance, also comes through in DEU 30:6, "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul [This is the first table of the law of love, is it not?], that thou mayest live." Circumcision is the seal, or mark of genuineness. Do you see how important this is? Without repentance, there is no salvation. Eternal life depends upon it. The circumcision of the heart, which purges the old sin by the removal of the foreskin of the heart, is necessary for eternal life. It points to the change of heart, that mark in the flesh, which is a change in one's walk of life and attitudes.
This circumcision of the heart involves everything, which pertains to the individual person. It becomes not only the type or sign but also the seal of genuine salvation. There is no life without that mark in the flesh, "...my covenant shall be in your flesh," that is in your attitudes and actions, in your walk of life which is the seal or mark of genuineness.
In DEU 30:6 we read, "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul that thou mayest live." There is no spiritual life without this putting off the filthiness of the flesh.
It is so clear that the apostle Paul was contending with the Jews over this same point in ROM 2:28-29. "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 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." Circumcision teaches us the necessity of repentance and a perfect obedience to the whole law of God. " . . . the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect," GEN 17:1b.
We are not able to satisfy God with our perfection of legal obedience. Circumcision points to the blessed perfect obedience of Christ as the substitute for His church. It was in perfect obedience that our Saviour "humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," PHI 2:8. His pledge in circumcision to render perfect obedience in behalf of His bride was perfect. When that perfect obedience is imparted into a person's heart, Christ is formed in him; that is his seal of a circumcised heart.
Circumcision teaches that no person may come under the blood of Christ without repentance. No person may claim salvation without repentance. Why? EZE 44:6-7 says, "And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations [The Lord is reproving them of their rebellion.], In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it . . ." Their heart had not been renewed nor had their walk of life been altered. They were walking in rebellion, yet they were claiming to be in God's service without a heart of love for God.
Their abominations were that they attempted to bring those who were uncircumcised in heart into God's family relationship without repentance. They were walking in rebellion. Their walk of life was not a type or sign of having been regenerated; repentance had not been worked in their hearts. The circumcised heart has a whole heart of love for God, and that was missing.
Now go back and read those two verses again while considering the following questions: Does the covenant of circumcision bring the unrepentant into the blood of Christ? Does the circumcision covenant seal the cleansing blood of Christ unto an unregenerate person? These attitudes contradict EZE 44:6-7.
Scripture unquestionably teaches that circumcision was the hedge built around Christ's vineyard to keep out the unrepentant. They may not come into the sanctuary until there is repentance. They may not be proclaimed under the blood of Christ until they have repented. Until there is that change in their walk of life, until the new heart is implanted in their soul, until they have been circumcised in "heart" and "flesh," i.e., their walk of life, they were not allowed to come under the blood.
Scripture clearly teaches that circumcision was the hedge that kept the unclean out. That principle is not only found in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. In MAT 21:33, it reads, "Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country." The winepress points to the sacrifice of Christ; the hedge to keep the stranger out points to the covenant of circumcision.
The hedge being the covenant of circumcision to keep out the unrepentant is also found in PSA 80:12-14. "Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine."
The wild boar represents the unclean beasts that came into the winepress of Christ. They claim salvation without repentance; they continue to live in rebellion. They were uncircumcised in the flesh and heart; they had no change of heart or walk of life, yet claimed the blood of Christ. That is the broken hedge. The circumcision covenant was the hedge to keep out the unrepentant.
This explains why neither the stranger nor the children of Israel were allowed to partake of the Passover, or come into the tabernacle under the burnt offerings, without being circumcised. There is complete harmony in Scripture between the Old and New Testaments as well as within each. The Passover pointed to the blood on the side posts and lintel of the door. When the destroying angel saw those marks, he passed over that house. The blood was where it could be seen. The destroying angel saw the token or the sign and passed over because that household was in Christ. During the celebration of the Passover, no uncircumcised person was allowed to partake; no stranger was allowed without being circumcised.
EXO 12:44-48 says, "But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. [Now he can take part in the Passover; his walk of life and attitude are also altered.] A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof."
The Lord is telling His people that the mark of genuineness is required; it is the new heart or Spirit of Christ being instilled in the soul. That is the person who may come in and partake of the Passover feast; that is the one who has the visible sign, like the blood on the side posts and lintel of the door. When the destroying angel comes, he must be able not only to hear, but also to see the evidence. Notice that the blood was not on the threshold of the door so it could be walked upon. The blood was up where it could be seen as our evidence and not trampled upon. The blood must also be seen on the side posts and lintel of the door of our hearts. The destroying angel will pass over wherever he sees that visible sign.
It is unmistakably clear that we can not come into the sacrifice of Christ without repentance, which is signified and\or typified by circumcision. Circumcision is the seal or sign or mark of genuineness that distinguishes and separates God's people from the professing world.
This is precisely what the apostle Paul was saying when he said in ROM 3:1-2, "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."
It was circumcision that made them a proper candidate to enter the sanctuary, or most holy place. Where were these oracles of God to be found? 1KI 6:19 says, "And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD." The oracles were right with the ark of the covenant of the Lord. For the people to have the oracles of God committed unto them, they had to be circumcised.
They profited from circumcision because it brought them within the holy place before the ark of the covenant. Where do you and I need circumcision of the flesh? It is in our walk of life, to be born again, the circumcision of the heart so that we may come unto the blessed ark of the covenant, which is a type of Christ.
Paul is saying the chief advantage of circumcision, ("...that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter..."), was that they were able to come unto the ark of the covenant, i.e., under the blood and sacrifice of Christ.
The token found in circumcision, i.e., the mark of genuineness of a circumcised heart becomes our evidence that we have the work of grace in our soul. You can go to ten thousand different churches and find ten thousand different recipes for salvation. The Word of God says, the mark of genuineness is a circumcised heart. The foreskin of the heart, i.e., the filthiness of the flesh must be removed and cast away. It means being born again with love for God permeating the heart, soul, and mind. That is circumcision of the heart. Circumcision of the flesh means the walk of life has been cleansed; no longer does one walk in sin. That is the sign and seal of circumcision.
GEN 17:11 says, "And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant [of grace in your soul] betwixt me and you." Circumcision of the heart is our proof, or evidence of the work of grace in the soul. "Grace" according to the Greek dictionary in Strongs Concordance is "the divine influence upon the heart which reveals itself in the walk of life." When we receive the work of grace, we are brought into that covenant relationship spoken of in HEB 8:10: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people."
Abraham received circumcision as "...a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised," ROM 4:11. The word "seal" comes from the Greek word "sphragis" which, means "the mark of genuineness." That principle is the topic of the next chapter, so I will only touch on it now. What is the "righteousness of the faith?" In short, the Lord Jesus said "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad," JOH 8:56.
Abraham saw his acquittal in the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith. By faith, Abraham saw that when Christ was circumcised, He became a debtor to do the whole law. His perfect obedience was imputed unto Abraham. ROM 4:11 speaks of "righteousness of faith." That word "righteousness" comes from the root word "dikaios" in the Greek, which means "equitable in character or act, innocent, acquitted, not guilty."
The Lord Jesus did not violate the law, and being acquitted of any wrong doing, He is found to be perfectly righteous. By faith, Abraham was able to lay hold of that imputed righteousness of Christ. He looked forward to Christ's perfect obedience, to Christ who became a debtor to do the whole law for His church when He was circumcised. "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law," GAL 5:3.
What does that mean to the spiritual seed of Abraham? It means that if you have received a circumcised heart, if you have had true repentance wrought in your soul, it is the "sign", i.e., the proof, evidence or indication [as it says in the Greek] that God has begun a good work in the soul. Each individual will have a different experience; some may not have the liberty to tell of any experience at all, but if you know what it is to fear God with a holy reverence for His will, you know that you have a circumcised heart. If the filthiness of the flesh, i.e., the foreskin of the heart, has been removed, then you will know what it is to crucify the old man of sin.
A circumcised heart is the most positive mark of the genuineness of our faith; it is the seal of the covenant given by Almighty God. DEU 30:6 says, "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Mark that: "That thou mayest live." Eternal life was contingent upon the condition of perfect obedience in the covenant of obedience; for that, we must look to Christ. Salvation was contingent upon perfect obedience under the covenant of works.
We must not believe that God is as a man that is given to change. The covenant that God made with Adam before the fall must yet be fulfilled, or there will never be eternal life. That covenant was never altered. It was by Christ's perfect obedience that eternal life was purchased for His church. By the shedding of His blood as an act of obedience, Christ appeased the Father's wrath upon our sin and removed the penalty, so He could fulfill the first covenant with perfect obedience. "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," PHI 2:8.
In that humble obedience to the whole law on behalf of His church (which The Lord Jesus Christ pledged when He was circumcised), the Father was so glorified that He reached His ultimate glory in rewarding His Son for such obedience. As our Lord Jesus approached His death, He said, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again," JOH 12:27-28. How did He glorify it again? By the reward He gave His Son for such humble obedience! "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father," PHI 2:8-11.
Christ loved us unto blood, unto His death, whereby He obtained the propitiation of our sins. The word "propitiation" means the appeasing of the Fathers wrath. "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him," ROM 5:9. Our eternal life was purchased with Christ's perfect obedience unto death, even the death of the cross.
MAL 3:6 says, "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." The covenant God made with man from eternity must still be fulfilled without one jot or tittle being removed. We see this in Christ's perfect sacrifice. God's just demands for perfect obedience, as the only condition for eternal life, certainly has never changed because of the disobedience of Adam.
Is it reasonable to believe that God could accept the blood of bulls and goats as the propitiation or appeasing of His wrath upon the sin of man, allowing man to live on in sin, and yet be saved? No. It was man who sinned; therefore, for Christ to become our Substitute, He took our human nature upon Himself, and lived His life without sin so He could become that Substitute. If He had sinned Himself, He would have had to die for His own sin. To purchase eternal life for man, God required that Christ, in our human nature, must first fulfill all that He required under the covenant of obedience with the first Adam, and then pay the penalty for every violation of the law by His church.
It is without doubt that the burnt offerings were Gods pledge to his church that Christ's payment of the penalty of the law would be imputed to his church. Even so, the covenant of circumcision was God's pledge that the perfect righteousness, or obedience of Christ, is our payment in full of the just demands under the covenant of obedience, or the covenant of works. We need the imputed righteousness, or obedience of Christ as well as His death and resurrection to stand just before God.
COL 2:11 says, "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." Do you see that the circumcision of Christ becomes ours by imputation. Christ was circumcised for His church, and we are circumcised by the circumcision of Christ. Now if we preach the circumcision covenant, we annul the circumcision of Christ on our behalf. This is why the apostle Paul said so earnestly, "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased," Gal 5:11.
Now do you see why we cannot preach that baptism replaces circumcision? Baptism and circumcision are co-essential!! Salvation is twofold. Christ must first satisfy the law with perfect obedience to purchase eternal life for His church, which He pledged in His circumcision. He must also satisfy the penalty of the law, which He pledged in His baptism! Therefore, baptism cannot replace circumcision!! When you go back under the circumcision covenant with infant baptism, you have annulled the circumcision of Christ on their behalf. This is why the apostle Paul said in GAL 5:2: "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law."
There is only one birth channel through which children or adults can be born again, and that is those whom "...God hath from the beginning chosen...to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2TH 2:13-14.
And so the Spirit's work of repentance in the heart is the sign that Christ's righteousness has been imputed to us. How are we to know and realize the assurance that we have the circumcision of Christ imputed to us? The sign is that our walk of life has been cleaned up. The seal is the new heart and new affections that have been implanted by the Spirit in our soul. We now have love for God and for His law, which we cannot keep perfectly, but from the heart, we delight to do His will. We love Him with our heart, soul, and mind. That is how we know righteousness has been imputed to us and that God has "circumcise [d] thine heart... to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live," DEU 30:6.
See how essential that love is under the first table of the law of love, i.e., to love God with our heart, soul, and mind. It is the sign of a circumcised heart. It is so important. It is the seal or mark of genuineness; it is the absolute certification of our salvation. If the heart has been circumcised to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul, then there is salvation "that thou mayest live."
In JOH 14:15-16 we read, "If ye love me, keep my commandments And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." When we begin to carefully observe every word of God, we learn from those verses. Look at the word "and" in verse 16. That word is so vitally important; it is the hinge of the gospel. What comes first? Loving Him and keeping His commandments, repentance, must come first; then Jesus will pray the Father to "...give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever."
The sending of the Holy Spirit is contingent upon obedience, repentance, or the keeping of His commandments, which is the sign of His love. Walking in His commands is the sign; it is our evidence that we have His love.
1JO 2:5 says, "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." Doesn't that confirm our evidence, our mark of genuineness? Read that again. "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him."
1JO 5:3 says, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." There are people who go to church out of a sense of duty, but it is grievous to them. Is the Lord pleased with that type of service? No. The Lord wants a new heart and desire so it is our greatest delight and pleasure to do His will. We serve Him from a motive of love as our Father, not just as the Lawgiver. Then His commandments are not grievous.
And did not our Saviour say that the sign or evidence of His imputed righteousness is a circumcised heart? "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them," MAT 7:16-20.
Knowing people by their fruits separates the mere professor from the possessor of grace. They both profess to be His servants. To distinguish the good fruits from the bad, He emphasized the difference in verse 21. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Again, where is our evidence that we have salvation?
There is a multitude of teachings to tell people what constitutes salvation. An individual named many church denominations and said they should all put themselves together, stop their separation, and come together to serve one Christ. What is the missing link? The answer lies in serving the creature more than the Creator. The authority is in the church, pastor, or anything other than the Word of God. If every one of them could just eliminate that one element, they could come under the authority of the Word. Then each would bring forth "Thus saith the Lord" without adding any doctrines of men or church beliefs. Unfolding only the Word of God would eliminate the separation. Look at their fruit of barrenness.
See how the heart's desire to serve God under His law of love becomes that token of God's grace in the soul. MAT 7:21 teaches us, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." The Lord Jesus told us in the previous verses we will know them by their fruits. That is where we can see the mark of genuineness.
This is the significance of the token in circumcision, that hedge which God built round about His vineyard to keep the wild boar out. Scripture teaches that the seal of the Spirit of promise is received after we have trusted, after we have heard the word of truth, and after we have believed, (come into holy awe and reverence for the authority of Christ as King). Then we receive the earnest, assurance, or seal of the imputed righteousness of Christ. EPH 1:12-14 teaches us, "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
Abram had walked in rebellion for thirteen years, but now "...the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly," GEN 17:1-2. Do you see that the first thing God impressed upon Abram was the authority by which He spoke?
This Hebrew word "tamiym," which means "integrity, truth, perfect, without spot, undefiled, upright," also appears in PSA 19:7. "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple." Why is the law of God so important? It is the character of God.
"Tamiym" is also translated as "without blemish" forty-four times in the Scriptures. The Lord Jesus taught saying in MAT 5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." In other words, be truthful; dont become entangled in the things of this world; be undefiled. Walk in integrity without spot.
How do we know we are doing the will of God? We are called to follow Christs example. Our beloved Saviour must be the standard of our perfection. 1PE 2:20-21 says, "For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps."
Who is your standard-bearer? If you question God's will in a matter, the answer is "Would Christ have done it?" If the answer is no, dont get caught up in it. We must look first to Christ as our standard for each thought and emotion. If Christ is lifted up as our standard-bearer, He will draw all men unto Himself. Every decision of your life should be made on the basis of whether or not Christ would do it.
The apostle Paul leaves such a beautiful example of one who has that blessed sign, or token, which is taught by the covenant of circumcision. In PHI 3:12-15 we read, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect [He realizes there is imperfection in his heart.]: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark [Abraham was told to be perfect; that is the mark.] for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."
Our heart's desire must be to press toward the mark of perfection (or spiritual maturity as it is in the original). We will never attain perfection in this life, except through the imputed perfection of Christ. Still we must press toward the mark.
The other side of this same principle also teaches that one's walk of life is the very token or sign of whom we serve. Our walk of life tells the world whom we serve. Any time someone wants to give me his or her testimony, I am not interested in hearing it if I can't see it in his or her walk of life. If there is no change of heart, if Christ is not their first love, and if the love of sin has not been broken, I don't care to listen to a profession of experiences or a claim to salvation. Their walk of life is evidence that speaks far louder and more clearly.
In PHI 3:17-21, we find an example of those who make a great profession while their walk of life doesn't complement it. "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ [They claim to be serving Christ, but they lack that mark of genuineness. See what the apostle says of them]: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) [Their walk of life tells us where their hearts are; their hearts are not with the Lord. Identify them by their actions and conversation.] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
Do you see how the walk of life and conversation speaks so loudly, it is difficult to hear what the person says? The walk of life that follows Jesus' example is the evidence of the work of regeneration in the heart. That is our seal, which assures salvation unto us. The circumcision of the heart crucifies the old man of sin and purifies the heart to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. The removing of the foreskin of the heart removes the filthiness of the flesh. EPH 4:21-24 says "If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." It then becomes the heart's desire to do what is pleasing in His sight. Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.