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By Curtis Pugh

God gave the Old Testament to His chosen people, the Jews. The word Jew means “praise.” However, long before the Lord Jesus was born, the Jews were no longer a praise to God nor could God praise them. The majority of them had only an outward form of what had once been God's true religion on earth. Their religious leaders were so corrupt that both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus called them “a generation of vipers.” (See Matthew 3:7; 12:34). Today we might say that they were as crooked as a barrel of snakes.

The greatest danger among professing Christians today is to have only outward religion. Those old Jews had the outward rite of circumcision and thought they pleased God because of it. Outward religion will not do: “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom,” (Proverbs 51:6). God must perform an inward operation if religion is to be more than just an outward pretense.

Only God can open a person's heart so that the Word of God is received there and produces godly fruit. This is clearly illustrated by the experience of a woman named Lydia who heard Paul preach. The Bible says of her, “...whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul,” (Acts 16:14).

Paul proves in chapter one of Romans that the non-Jews are sinners. In chapter two he proves that the Jews are sinners. In chapter three he proves that all men everywhere are sinners having no genuine interest in God.

Addressing the Jews God has this to say. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God,” (Romans 2:28-29).

There is a play on words here for when Paul writes, “whose praise is not of men, but of God,” he alludes to the meaning of the word Jew: “praise.” Outward religion, then, produces no praise from God even outward display may bring praise from men.

Every sinner needs an inward circumcision. The necessary thing is “circumcision... of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.” Have you merely gone through certain religious rituals or has God operated on you? Paul also refers to this spiritual operation within individuals as the “circumcision made without hands,” (Colossians 2:11). Anything made without hands – anything done inwardly signifies it is done by God and not by man. Do you receive praise from God or is yours only an outward religion? Has God ever operated upon your heart? Are you a “Jew” inwardly? Only God can perform this inward and absolutely necessary procedure. Has He operated upon you inwardly by the Holy Spirit or are you yet in your sins?

Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726

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