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  • East Martin CRC

Sign of the Covenant

Philippians 3:1-11

Verse 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—

In our discussion yesterday we covered the need to know the intent of the law not just the words of it. This understanding the intent comes from knowing the One who gave the law.

Paul starts this verse with a strange sounding comment, how can we be the circumcision? Remember that circumcision was the mark of someone being from the descendants of Abraham. This mark wasn’t about marking them as Abraham’s sons but as God’s chosen, covenant people. This is what Paul was getting at. These believers needed to see that a mark of the flesh may have identified a bloodline but the covenant it represented was also for those that were brought in to be part of that community.

The Jewish people had come to take pride in their mark as God’s people but they didn’t hold to the covenant that it represented. This outer mark may have represented the agreement with God but the actions of the people weren’t keeping up their end of the bargain. A covenant isn’t one sided. It is an agreement of which both parties hold a responsibility to the other. God required them to make the mark of their agreement but they still needed to act out the requirements set by God.

Like a wedding band is a reminder of the covenant a man and woman make when they marry, the mark of circumcision was just a symbol to remember the vows made. But the vows need to be kept for the covenant to be solid. God’s portion of the vows was that He would care for them and provide for their every need. He would fight their battles and keep His covenant with the generations to come.

The descendants of Abraham hadn’t always kept their side of the bargain. They had failed to live as though they were His. Like a spouse who has not kept their vows of forsaking all others, the Jewish people had sought other gods and had tried to make God fit into their thinking, instead of letting Him transform them into the people He desired them to be. It is obedience in the Spirit that reveals if we are living according to the covenant. When we obey because we are in tune to the Spirit of God, this is the proof of our circumcision of the heart. And it reveals that our obedience is out of love, not obligation.

Making It Personal

Does obedience mark your life as a member of God’s people? Can you tell a difference in your life of when you obeyed out of obligation versus from relationship with Him? What made the difference?

Making It Personal Kids

What kind of promise is a covenant based on? Does knowing it means a lifelong promise make you see your obedience to Jesus differently? How long can you keep the promise of obeying Jesus?

Closing Prayer

Father, in our hearts we know it is more than just saying we love You and wanting to obey You. Give us the understanding of how we need to obey You out of a spirit of love not obligation. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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