What Counts

Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. ~ 1 Corinthians 7:18-20

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. ~ Galatians 5:6

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. ~ Galatians 6:15

“Keeping God’s commands” can’t refer to keeping the whole of the old law; circumcision was one of those commands. And the law was a prison warden (Galatians 3:23); a school bus driver that made sure we got to school and were educated (3:24). And following the commands of law can’t save (Acts 13:39; Galatians 2:21). So what are God’s commands now?

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. ~ Acts 17:30

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ~ John 13:34 (see also Galatians 5:14 and 2 John 1:6.)

So would it be fair to concatenate all that into one big thing that “counts”…?

“Keeping God’s commands – expressing your faith through love – makes you a new creation. That’s what counts.”

Definitely not circumcision … well, not the physical kind, anyway:

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. ~ Romans 2:29

God still wants us to be circumcised, but in our hearts. He wants us to let Him cut out and away from our hearts the temptations and distractions of the flesh, just as a surgeon might excise obstructing tissues from the heart that pumps our blood. Then we become one of God’s chosen people, whether a Jew or Gentile. We each become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Do we express our faith through love in baptism (Acts 18:8)? in giving (Luke 12:33)? in telling about Him to those who haven’t heard His name (Matthew 28:16-20)? in encouraging others (Hebrews 10:25)? in helping the poor, the widows, the orphans (James 1:27)?

And in a thousand other ways which serve God, bless others, give glory to His name, testify of His grace and transform us into that new creation; into His very image (2 Corinthians 3:18)? Is there anything He wants us to do or not do that He has ever hidden or withheld from us (Philippians 3:15; Hebrews 6:17)?

Is there anything unclear about this …?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

Isn’t the very core message of these verses that we sacrifice self – the flesh – every day in gratitude for His mercy (this is worship! Sunday or not!); we have to leave behind the urge to be conformed to the world’s pattern of law-and-disobedience (Romans 11 just before this verse!) and be transformed into Christ’s image so that we’ll know what God’s good, pleasing, perfect will is?

So here’s my conclusion again:

“Keeping God’s commands – expressing your faith through love – makes you a new creation. That’s what counts.”

Are we insisting on a lot of other stuff – a lot of man-made law – that doesn’t count at all?

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