The DEEP

Obsessing

over the wrong things.

Romans 4:9-12 (NKJV)

Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

What is up with this infatuation with circumcision? Paul makes it sound like circumcision is the be-all and end-all of life.

Bingo. That’s exactly the mentality Paul is dealing with here. This is a window into the first century Jewish mind. They’ve made circumcision more than just a sign of the covenant—overextending what God said to Abraham, in Genesis 17:11, “and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” (NKJV)

This passage is designed to shoot that down. Specifically, Paul refutes the idea that only circumcised people can have faith by noting that Abraham had faith before he was circumcised.

Take a moment to let that sink in. The Jews have a magnificent covenant with God, where He says things like, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Also, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” — Jeremiah 31:33b & 34b (NKJV)

So what do they do? They obsess over a sign of that covenant—a sign that is never said to have any power of its own. They seem to be hoarding God’s love. How did they get to this point?

This is what sin does with every good thing. Instead of just enjoying it, we focus on making sure no one else gets a piece of the pie. Even when the pie is unlimited and sharing it would benefit everyone, we still hoard.

We miss how big God’s plans are.


Every new convert makes the world a better place. Expanding the gospel to the gentiles was God’s marvelous plan and Paul’s glorious mission.

It’s our mission too. What do you think your role is in spreading the gospel?

Note: the purpose of all evangelism is God’s glory. Getting more people to confess Christ is part of that grand plan, but it’s not the essence. My main church jobs used to be mowing the lawn and making coffee. Those jobs count. Beware of thinking that only the high-profile jobs are glorious.

Serving God supports His Kingdom operations. That connects to spreading the gospel in countless ways.


All the weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.