by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10 April 5, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(114)Thesis:The fundamental issue of relationship with God has to do with Truth.
Introduction:Since Paul shifted the focus of his words in Romans 2 from the guilt of the self-styled "Jew" to the central issue of "circumcision", we have spent a couple of weeks looking into the issues that surrounded both the initiation of circumcision by God and the issues that enable us to understand how the "Jews" had twisted the divine intent so that circumcision became a foundation for boasting.
It is our intent, this evening, to finish our study of Romans 2 by looking into Paul's final argument as it is given in 2:28-29. When we look at those two verses, we immediately see that he is, in a sense, "defining" what God considers "Jewishness" and "circumcision". We shall see, in this study, that the point toward which Paul is driving is this: we are dealing with a God of Truth, not a god of deception.
I. Paul's Rejection of Hypocrisy.
A. Romans 2:28 is, first, a declaration that "manifest" Jewishness is not "Jewishness".
1. The term Paul uses for "outwardly" needs to be understood.
a. The term is consistently used in the Scriptures to refer to what can be verified by the application of the five senses and reason.
b. As such, when the term is used of "Jewishness", it refers to a practice of what it means to be "Jewish" that can be investigated by those whose perceptive abilities are limited to the five senses and reason.
c. Thus, what Paul is saying is that the essence of "Jewishness" cannot be determined by the combination of sensory perception and reason.
2. The "issue" of Jewishness also needs to be understood.
a. It began with Leah's naming of her fourth son "Judah": Genesis 29.
1) This "naming" was all about coming to serious grips with the deep-seated desire to be the center of someone's universe.
2) This "naming" was all about taking a serious turn from three life-critical deceptions...
a) The first deception is the thought that being in the center of a creature-universe will genuinely satisfy the desire.
b) The second deception is that one can, by "production", get into the center of another's universe.
c) The third deception is that one deserves to be in the center of another's universe.
3) This "naming" was all about taking a serious turn to three life-critical truths...
a) That, without desert, Yahweh has placed us in the center of His universe.
b) That "production" has nothing directly to do with "love".
c) That it is only Yahweh's love that makes any real difference in any case.
4) This "naming" was all about Leah's response to Yahweh's love: she was going to praise Yahweh for His love for her.
b. It developed under the "Law" as that document spelled out what forms the true worship of Yahweh would take.
3. The "problem" that developed.
a. People confused what could be "known" by the senses in conjunction with reason.
1) They knew that one could know something about motivation from observable phenomena: one can know false motivation from evil behavior.
2) They thought that one could also know good motivation from good behavior.
b. Then they dismissed the issue of motivation altogether and simply focused upon whether the behavior was "good".
B. Romans 2:28 is, second, a declaration that "manifest" circumcision is not circumcision.
1. Manifest circumcision concerns man's physical ability to "produce" fruit.
2. True circumcision has to do with man's spiritual ability to "produce" fruit.
C. Romans 2:28 is, then, a rejection of "physical activities" as a true measure of "spiritual realities": this is a rejection of hypocrisy.
II. Paul's Definitions of Truth.
A. True "Jewishness" is not a rejection of the principles of "Law" as a revelation of the true forms of worship; but is, rather, a use of those principles to express the genuine desire to praise Yahweh.
B. True "circumcision" is a matter of the "heart".
1. A circumcised heart is...
a. As a "circumcision", it is the removal of that which deadens the sensitivity of the nerves centered beneath it.
b. As a circumcision of the "heart", it is a removal of the corrupt motives that deaden a person's ability to value what Yahweh values.
c. Since the intended result is "praise from Yahweh" as the desired end (motive), circumcision of the heart is the removal of the desire in men to be praised by men. This is not a circumcision that can be performed by men; it is only a result that Yahweh can achieve. That so much of what passes for Christianity these days is actually designed to impress men, one has to wonder whether any real "circumcision" has been going on in the so-called conversions of men.
d. As a "circumcision" in respect to the "spirit" as opposed to the "letter", it is a circumcision that is designed to be "actual", not "pretended". When Paul says "in spirit, not in letter" he is not saying "in the spirit" as if "spirit" was intended to be understood as a component of man's makeup (as in "body, soul, and spirit"). Rather, he is saying "according to truth in intent" as opposed to "external conformity to the letter of the rules". There is an enormous difference between doing something because one wishes to please YWHW and doing something because one wishes to be seen as one who pleases Yahweh.
2. The consequence of a circumcised heart is a death-blow to the lust for status in the eyes of men.