A Circumcised Heart

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all the males must be circumcised. This is why circumcision was such a hot topic in the early church discussion in regards to expectations placed upon gentile believers. Paul resolved the issue in Romans chapter 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. Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to in the spirit and not in the letter. But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God. When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul:

For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Gal 1:10.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts. 1 Th 2:4.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts”. Granted, He certainly does do this, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question, am I pleasing men or God. This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.” The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, let them that glory, glory in the Lord is a paraphrase of a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is not so much attempting to teach a lesson here, but to stir up their minds by way of remembrance. By mentioning this he is calling to mind something he no doubt taught on extensively while in Corinth. Why do I say this?  Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts chapter 18, and verse 4 says that he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Then he receives from the Lord in a vision by night “be not afraid but speak and hold not thy peace, for I am with you and no man shall set on you to hurt you, for I have much people in this city.” Vs. 9 & 10. And then verse 11 tells us that he continued there for 18 months, teaching the Word of God among them. So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians chapter 1:26-29; for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text? Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, Egypt and Judah and Edom and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart. Jeremiah 9:25.

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word. For Paul wrote in 2 Co 3:15-17; even unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel.

This will be an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God Paul speaks about in 1 Co 4:1 & 2; let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

In order to be a faithful steward, a man must know what these mysteries are to which Paul speaks.

For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. Romans 11:25.

 

A Spirit made Willing

And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willingand they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. Exodus 35:21.

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.  Exodus 35:29.

Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. 1 Ch 29:9.

When the Holy Ghost fell on the day of Pentecost, a miracle occurred which had happened only briefly in the lives of God’s people in the past. The disciples numbered approximately 120 in the upper room that day. Immediately after they received the gift of the Holy Ghost corporately, there were added about 3,000 souls! Even more impressive than the numbers though, was the immediate change of heart.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need. Acts 2:44,45.

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Acts 4:32.

So we see the need of God’s Spirit to move for people to have a willing heart; to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, to prepare for Solomon to build a Temple, and for the saints to build a New House for God in the body of Christ.

In these last days, will our hearts be willing when God pours out of His Spirit?

Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. Psalm 110:3.

 

Thoughts on Covenant

The first principle of a covenant relationship with God is that all things must be done according to His purpose.

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 2 Tim 1:9.

God is able to work out every detail after the counsel of His own will.

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.           Ephesians 1:11.

Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. Acts 11:23.

What is meant by this expression “purpose of heart”?

This word translated purpose is also used in the New Testament for the show-bread that was laid out before the Lord in the Temple Sanctuary. Thus our hearts are laid open before Him;

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  Hebrews 4:13.

Even as the Holy Spirit spoke through Zacharias:

That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. Luke 1:74,75.

And again from Ephesians:

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Ephesians 1:4.

And now as faithful children of God, let us abide in Him.

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 2:28.