“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
The legalistic and the grace ways of life are polar opposites. Such rough language in verse 2 is because of the dangerous impact of legalism on the Christian approach to life. An alarm, a summons to vigilance, is in order (v.2). Danger threatens the very essence of Christianity.
The thesis that we are to earn credit with God by works negates the grace principle. It puts God in man’s debt. God becomes obligated to man because of all his deeds. However, the grace principle sets forth the thesis that God makes the provisions and enablement of the Christian life.
This verse gives three hallmarks of those who are born again.
“For we are the circumcision”
Paul accepted circumcision, but only a certain kind. It was a circumcision of the heart rather than the penis. It was spiritual rather than physical. The Judaizers believed in ritual. They made a virtue of a ritual. Their religious practice was the physical act of circumcision.
Christianity is spiritual circumcision, not physical. Spiritual circumcision is part of our status before God eternally:
“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ [that is, the circumcision Christ made to us on the cross]” (Col. 2:11).
“Who worship God in the spirit”
This is the first earmark of a Christian: he worships God. The Lord Jesus mentioned this in John 4:24: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The Holy Spirit is in charge of the worship department. Genuine worship ties to dynamic fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We are poor worshipers because we relate so poorly to the Holy Spirit.
Worship in genuine Christianity is in the Spirit. It is inward, not outward. The outward form does not constitute true worship. Worship is love. We do not worship well because we do not love well. To love God is to adore Him, magnify Him, praise, and honor Him. It is to give Him first place.
Genuine worship centers on a true relationship with God.
Do you worship God? “Well, he knows that I love him.” That is what men say to their wives: “She knows that I love her.” Yes, she wants to hear it over and over. “I have not told my wife in years, but she knows I love her.” But how does she know it? Does she read minds? By the same token, we are not such good worshipers, either.
Your teaching is a blessing to me. Thank you for providing it as you do!
I wanted to make a comment about not having any confidence in the flesh. If the flesh could only produce that which is evil, than this verse would not make sense. But the flesh can also, produce that which is good but still not be God
Roger, thanks for your comment; it is a blessing.
The "flesh" produces more than what men call "evil." It can also produce much good apart from God, that is, human good. However, human good apart from God is still sinful. When we say that mankind is totally depraved that does not mean that man does not do good in reference to men; it means that mankind cannot do anything by operation bootstraps to please God. Since God is absolute and man is relative man cannot live up to an absolute God. That is why we need Christ and rejoice in Him.
Roger, did you advance to 3:3b?