For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
I. THE GROUND OF THE APOSTLE'S CLAIM.
1. To worship God in the spirit is —
(1) To worship God as a spirit.
(2) With our own spirit.
(3) By the help of the Holy Spirit.To worship God in the flesh would be to worship God as though He were flesh, with the powers of the body alone, and by the influences and aids which work on the body (John 4:23; Malachi 1:11).
2. To rejoice in Christ Jesus is not only to believe in Him and receive Him, but gladly and gratefully to accept all His work and gifts and services, being cleansed by His blood, made righteous by His obedience, and being reconciled by His mediation (1 Peter 1:8). And if we connect this with the former, then it means to worship, pleading Christ's sacrifice, trusting in His advocacy, and making Him in all respects our way to God.
3. Having no confidence, etc. What he means by flesh is evident from the words following — the administration of ordinances, birth of high noble blood, earnest external obedience. The flesh is the outward and material, not the inward and spiritual. Now, if we connect this third qualification with the first, to have no confidence in the flesh is to use the material without abusing it, making it secondary and subservient, to employ as much of the outward form in worship as is essential to spirit and life, but never as a substitute.
II. THE LOFTY POSITION PAUL CLAIMS. The practice of circumcision existed, it may be, before it was imposed on Abraham, but it was ordained by God mainly with a spiritual object (Genesis 17:10, etc.), as the sign and seal of the Divine covenant; it testified to God's faithfulness. What advantages then, hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? (Romans 9:4-5). Like privileges are possessed by such as worship God in the spirit, etc.
1. They are the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.
2. They behold the bright ness of the Father's glory (John 1:14, 18).
3. They are the inheritors of great and precious promises. Even the promises made to Abraham are theirs (Romans 4:11-13, 16; Galatians 3:7-9). But the believer is interested in a better covenant, established in better promises.
(1) A country was promised to Abraham — a good land; but Canaan shared in the universal curse. But the land promised to the Christian is a better country.
(2) It was promised to Abraham that his seed should become a great nation — those who rejoice in Christ are a holy nation, a peculiar people.
(3) God promised to Abraham to be his God, etc., and so (2 Corinthians 6:15) —
4. They are favoured with special Divine revelations (Hebrews 8:10-11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
5. They are a royal priesthood.
6. They are connected with an ancient and sacred lineage. The Jew claimed Abraham as his father, and all the illustrious patriarchs and prophets as ancestors; but they whom Paul describes may claim as ancestors all who have like precious faith in every age.
7. While of the Israelites as concerning the flesh Christ came; of those, whom Paul describes, Christ comes as a gospel and a revelation to the world (2 Corinthians 2:14-15; 2 Corinthians 3:2-3).Conclusion:
1. Let us claim to be the circumcision in the presence of the Jew. To him, if he rejoice not in Christ Jesus we say, Your circumcision is counted uncircumcision: We are Abraham's seed, and he is an alien. We envy not his connection by blood; we have a tie less corruptible. 2, We claim this position as Christians of simple customs, in spite of some who would withhold it because we follow not with them. We notice the stress which such lay upon consecrated edifices, sacramental efficacy, an authorized ministry, uniformity. We affirm that spiritual worship consecrates any structure, constitutes the worshipper a priest, and renders the simplest forms full of power and life.
3. We claim this in the face of the world; and if men demand of us a style and order of worship which would undermine spirituality, divert our complacency from Christ, and foster confidence in the flesh, let us not only not conform to their requirements, but let us deny that conformity would secure any increase of acceptableness or power.
(1) Of power! What is mightier than spiritual worship? What show of strength exceeds that manifest by rejoicing in Jesus? And is "no confidence in the flesh" loss of power (Jeremiah 17:5-8).
(2) And is there no beauty in simplicity? The utmost and highest is to be found in an assembly which worships God, etc.
4. Let us in godly fellow ship with all true churches maintain this position.
Parallel VersesKJV: For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.