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What is the Mark of True Faith?

Romans 4:11-12
And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. (NIV)

Circumcision was a mark of faith to the Jews. It said, "I belong to God because I belong to his people". However the Jews thought so much about the sign that they forgot what it meant! Abraham knew that he belonged to God before he was circumcised, because he believed what God had said. Eventually he was circumcised because God commanded it and he believed and obeyed.

So Paul explained to the mixed Jew/Gentile church in Rome that circumcision was no longer essential when people believed in Jesus. It was faith which mattered, not a physical sign of faith. However there is a sign that people belong to Jesus; it is not a mark on the body, but obedience to the Word of God. That is what 'walking in the footsteps of the faith that Abraham had' means. The sign that you believe is that you do what God says (1 Peter 2:22)!

Obedience is a simple concept; so why do we find it so difficult? The answer must be that we do not believe that God's instruction is the most perfect way for us to live in His love and fulfil our purpose on earth. It is easier to wear crosses, carry Bibles, give money and go to multiple church services ... than it is for us to obey. Our fleshly nature hates the idea of submission, but if we refuse to submit to God's will how can we say that we belong to His family? That is why the church grows in times of persecution - nothing is gained by pretending ... if you are not real then you will fall away. So all of us need to practise obedience if we claim to believe, because that is the true mark of faith.

Holy Father. Thank You for this reminder that You do not want outward sacrifices but the inner sacrifice of a submissive spirit, a quiet heart that is eager to do whatever You say. Forgive me if I have been proud about my achievements for You rather than being willing to accept what Jesus has done for me. Help me to be submissive to Your voice and willing to obey Your commands, so that it will be evident that I am a true son of Abraham and a child of God. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams