(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
A New Creation
13th August 2011
Since Paul used most of his letter to the Galatians to urge them not to be circumcised, it may surprise us that, towards the end of the letter, he writes:
To understand this, we must see the difference between the physical act of circumcision and their reason for doing it. The reason for the letter was to explain as clearly as possible that Christians don't need to obey the Jewish ceremonial law. Once we understand that a Gentile Christian is fully accepted by God through repentance and faith in Jesus's atoning sacrifice, we should not act as though there is more that needs to be done to obtain that acceptance. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. There is nothing to gain from being circumcised, and nothing to gain from being uncircumcised. The Galatians' error was to believe that there was something to be gained from being circumcised.
The whole verse says:
Whether a Christian male has a foreskin or not does not matter. And whether a Christian is Jewish or not does not affect his standing before God. As Paul wrote earlier in this letter:
A free man is not better or worse than a slave, and a man is not better or worse than a woman. Similarly, a Jew is not better or worse than a Gentile. We all stand or fall before God on the same basis: repentance and faith.
Of course, there are differences between Jews and Greeks, between slaves and free men, and between males and females, but our adoption as children of God is on exactly the same basis, and we are of the same value to God. our nationality, our employment, whether we are men or women, does not make us more or less acceptable to God. Instead, what counts is a new creation.
What makes us Christians is inward, not outward. We're not Christians because we submit to circumcision, or even baptism, or because we go to church gatherings, or even because we improve our behaviour (although we should be baptised, and go to church gatherings, and improve our behaviour). We're Christians because we've experienced a radical change to our very nature. Jesus told the Pharisee named Nicodemus:
Have you heard the expression "born-again Christian"? It makes no sense! All Christians are born again!
If you're not a new creation, then you're not a Christian. Paul wrote this to another church:
2 Corinthians 5v17
That's what counts! A new creation! Have you allowed God to make you a new person? Has God forgiven you, washed you clean, adopted you as His child, given you His Holy Spirit and joined you to His church?