Focal Passage: Romans 4:1-25
Someone once said, “I’d much rather see a sermon, than hear
Yet, living a sermon, or always doing the righteous thing,
is most difficult. All of us, if we’re willing to admit it, fall short.
For example, just last week a friend told me a sad story of
his former pastor, a tragic case of moral failure.
According to him, it began as flirtation with a much younger
lady in his church. He thought she was interested in him; he was obviously
interested in her. So he told his wife he wanted a divorce. He wanted to seek
another relationship. With his family imploding, he told the new object of
affection his plans.
She said, “Buddy, you’ve gotten the wrong idea!” In short
order she left town, and the former pastor was devastated by an obsession that
had left him family-less. There are no perfect human role models. Our
obsessions can do us great harm. Paul would know.
Paul grew up as a devout Pharisee. He believed in the law.
In his younger days he would have given his life for it. As part of the law,
circumcision was a non-negotiable. If you wanted to get into heaven and be
counted righteous, you must be circumcised. It was an accepted fact of life.
Further, if you were not a Jew and had not been circumcised as a child, you
could still “get right with God” by becoming circumcised and adopting the
religion of Judaism.
There were hundreds of years of precedent.
But, then came his conversion while on the road to Damascus.
From that point onward he had a different way of thinking and believing about
many things, including the rite of circumcision.
Abraham was God’s righteousness illustrated. He wasn’t a
perfect man. Neither was his wife. They both let God down numerous times.
When God promised this elderly couple a son, they thought
God was crazy. When that son did not come quickly, they thought they could come
up with a better plan.
Their “better plan” led to the birth of Ishmael, and while
Ishmael would be the patriarch of a great nation, it was not God’s plan. Isaac,
not Ishmael, was the son of promise and of “faith.”
The theme of this passage is that Abraham’s righteousness
was based upon faith, not circumcision. Young Abram was not circumcised. With
his name change, he obeyed God and was circumcised at age 99. Ishmael was
circumcised at age 13 and Isaac at 8 days old.
But it was never about circumcision. It was always about
belief, trust and faith in God.
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