Paul has laid to rest the concept of working for one’s salvation but now another question must be addressed. For whom is this justification and when did it first occur. These are critical questions that must be addressed for the Jew to understand God’s plan.
In chapter 3 Paul essentially said justification is for any who believe. Yet the Jew clings to his circumcision as proof that justification is for he alone. Paul seeks to help them over this impasse and thus refers to Abraham. Yesterday we said that Abraham believed God, not in a God but he believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness. But, when did it happen; before he was circumcised or after? Circumcision was a physical sign between man and God as a sign of the covenant. Yet, as Paul reminds his Jewish listeners, Abraham believed God in Genesis 12 but it was not until Genesis 17 that God commanded him and his household to be circumcised. Therefore, his circumcision carried no weight regarding his justification. Again as we said yesterday, you cannot take credit for what God has done. Justification is a gift from God alone lest anyone choose to boast. Circumcision is but a wonderful sign but faith alone brings you to God:.
In the same way baptism will not save you, the exchange of rings in a marriage ceremony does not make you married and circumcision does not justify anyone. These are signs, to affirm but are not the gift itself. The blessing is that if we believe like Abraham we too have the promise of justification.
What are you clinging to for your justification?