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The Mark Of Faith

Galatians 5:2-6
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is required to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (NIVUK)

Circumcision is very important to Jews. They see it as the mark of belonging to God, of fellowship with His family; a sign of being special to God and different from those who do not believe. There was pressure from the Jewish community for male Gentile believers to be circumcised if they were to be considered to be part of God’s family. But Paul said, No! If you think that circumcision is essential, then you also have to keep all of the Old Testament law as well. But that was impossible for anybody – even for the Jews who claimed that they were saved by observing the law.
Paul also wrote to tell the Christians that if they preferred to be saved by keeping the law, they had fallen away from the grace of Christ, which is the only way people can be truly saved. Everyone who loves God longs to be perfect, but none of us can be declared righteous because of what we do, because nobody can keep His law completely. And so, Jews who believe in Jesus are not more special than Gentiles Christians because nobody is saved by law-keeping. What matters is admitting you are a sinner and trusting that Jesus is Your Saviour (www.crosscheck.org.uk). That sort of faith will welcome the Holy Spirit and allow Him to produce love in our lives, which will be a blessing to everybody.
Love is the real mark of faith. It shows kindness to people who do not deserve it, and forgives those who repent. The love produced by faith in Jesus is full of grace, and marks people out as children of God. By comparison, circumcision only says that you have been marked by human beings: but those who show generous love say that they have been transformed by God. That love comes through faith in Jesus. Love is the most powerful of all the identifiable characteristics of a human being. Genuine love cannot be manufactured or done as a ‘good work’; it has to come from inside us … and it gets there because God gives us His Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 says, “ … God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The Spirit is not given because we are good, but because God is good, and honours all who are trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus for their salvation.

Loving Father God. Thank You for marking me with the Holy Spirit who enables me to love like Jesus loved. I am sorry for the times when I have tried to impress You with my own righteousness and have forgotten to thank You for Your grace, and exhibit Your love. Please enable me to know the presence of the Holy Spirit to change me and make me more like Jesus. For His Name’s sake. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams