Questions for Littles: For whom is circumcision a blessing (v25)? Who are the real Jews? What is the real circumcision (v29)? What was the biggest blessing of being a Jew (3:2)? What do the faithfulness and justice of God mean that He must do to sin (3:3-8)? How many Jews are under sin (v9)? How many Greeks are under sin? How many are righteous (10)? How many understand (11)? How many seek after God? How many have turned aside (12)? How many do good? What are their throats, tongues, lips, and mouths like (13-14)? Where do their feet go (15-16)? What do they not know (17)? What is not before their eyes (18)?
In the epistle reading this week, we see how useless it is to have a covenant sign without covenant faith. God’s covenant promises of salvation have their yes and amen not in circumcision, nor in baptism, but only in Jesus Christ, who must be all our righteousness before God.
It was very offensive to the Jews that circumcision could be spoken of as worthless. It wasn’t. But its value was only to those who have the inward reality to which the outward sign belonged. The same is true of our baptisms.
Both are wonderful testimonies from God about what He does for us in our salvation. But the sign itself isn’t big enough to save us.
We have a huge guilt problem, that nothing but atonement as big as God can cure.
We have a huge righteousness deficit, that nothing but righteousness as perfect as God can supply.
That’s the point of all those quotes from the Psalms.
Maybe there’s something that we can say? Enough Scripture to memorize and recite? Enough praise to offer? Enough gracious words to speak to others? But only death comes out of our throat-tombs, and only lies come off our deceitful tongues, and only venom comes from under our serpent lips, and only cursing and bitterness overflow from our mouths that are full of them.
Maybe we can do some good works to make up for ourselves? But our feet are sluggish to good and swift to shed blood. We make a miserable mess out of what we do.
Maybe we can get there by sharpening our pencils and getting all our theology right? Nope. The way of peace we have not known.
Maybe we can be spiritual enough? There is no fear of God before our eyes.
The pastor in me wants to jump into next week’s text—that there is available to us Christ’s righteousness, to which we have contributed nothing, and from which we can receive everything.
But it is the sustained stress of a long passage here to take all the air out of all other possible hopes
When you feel like you need to “make it up to God” for your sin, in what do you need to hope instead?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face,” or HB275 “Amazing Grace”