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The Glad Tidings

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    “The Sign of Circumcision.”

    These false brethren had said, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye can not be saved.” Literally, you have not power to be saved. They made salvation only a human thing, resulting solely from the exercise of human power. They had no knowledge of what circumcision really is. “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.” Romans 2:28, 29. There was a time, after Abraham believed God, when he listened to the voice of Sarai, instead of to God, and sought to fulfil the promises of God by the power of his own flesh. See Genesis 16. The result was a failure—a bond-servant instead of an heir. Then God appeared to him again, exhorting him to walk before Him with singleness of heart, and repeating His covenant. As a reminder of his failure, and of the fact that “the flesh profiteth nothing,” Abraham received “the sign of circumcision,”—a cutting off of the flesh. This was to show that since in the flesh “dwelleth no good thing,” the promises of God can be realized only by the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, through the Spirit. “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3. Abraham was, therefore, really circumcised as soon as he received the Spirit through faith in God. “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised.” Romans 4:11. Outward circumcision was never anything more than a sign of the real circumcision of the heart; when this was absent, the sign was a fraud; but when the real circumcision was present, the sign could be dispensed with. Abraham is “the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised.” The “false brethren” who visited the church at Antioch, subverting the souls of the disciples, and those of the same class who afterwards troubled the Galatians, perverting the Gospel of Christ, were substituting the empty sign for the reality. With them the shell of the nut without the kernel counted for more than the kernel without the shell.GTI 62.1

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