Romans 2:28-29—For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Paul asks the reader if keeping the rituals has any meaning if you are disobedient to God? What if a person doesn’t keep the rituals but is obedient to God? Isn’t obedience more important than ritual? The Jews had so many rituals and rules that they forgot what they were all about. While looking down on their Gentile neighbors, they were no more obedient to God than those they despised. In fact, some of the Gentiles were more obedient, for they obeyed the law of conscience in their heart. What makes a man a Jew? Is it merely lineage? Is it the covenant ritual of circumcision? Circumcision was merely a picture of a heart made tender toward God. The one whose heart is made tender by the Holy Spirit is a true child of God. His actions come from the heart, not just intellectual obedience to a set of rules or a formula prayer. The person with a tender heart toward God does not act for the purpose of men approving his actions as those of a spiritual man. He acts from the heart to please God. Men may despise him, but God is pleased with him. Man may not understand his actions and misinterpret his motives, but God will know. Whether he understands it or not, the cross has made access to God and a new heart possible. What is the motivating factor for your actions? Do you try to do what is respected so that man will think highly of you, or do you act from a heart that has been made tender toward God?