The measure of a king in the Old Testament was who they worshiped. The measure of a saint in the New Testament is how they worship. That’s what I’m picking up from what’s being laid down in my readings this morning.
Working my way through 2Kings again this morning. And as I read chapters 14 and 15 I’m marking the divine bottom-line assessments of each king of Israel and Judah. And for the kings of Israel it’s the same old, same old:
And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
(2Kings 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28 ESV)
What was the sin of Jeroboam? The ruler over the northern kingdom crafted idols to be worshiped as the gods who had brought them out of Egypt. He redirected the glory due the God who had set His name in Jerusalem to two calves of gold set up in Bethel and Dan. “Then this thing became a sin” (1Ki. 12:25-30), and continued to be the plumb line that measured the evil, idolatrous heart of every subsequent king of Israel.
And while few kings in Judah attempted to eradicate idol worship in the southern kingdom, most of them “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” (2Ki. 14:3; 15:3, 34) because they worshiped the God of David, the God of their deliverance, the God of promise.
Like I said, when it came down it, it seems the measure of a king in the Old Testament was who they worshiped.
And I think that set me up for what Paul would say to the Philippians.
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.
(Philippians 3:3 ESV)
The gospel was introduced to a people who worshiped the right who but in the wrong how. Religion had become the measure of righteousness. The weight of good works the way of God’s favor. Physical circumcision the only thing that counted when assessing faithful service. Confidence in the flesh determining the caliber of the faith.
But, through Paul’s hand, God breathes out (2Tim. 3:16) that those who are truly of the circumcision, those who are actually marked as the people of God, are those who get three things:
- We worship by the Spirit of God. Our worship is not through ritual. Our adoration not by rote. But our offerings of praise, our sacrifices of service, are brought by faith into the holy of holies and that through reliance solely on the shed blood of Christ for our sin.
- We glory in Christ Jesus. Christ alone is our basis for boasting. Our righteousness not a result of our many works but of His one finished work on the cross. Not having a righteousness of our own but a righteousness which is credited to our account through faith–the righteousness of Christ Himself. And, our power for piety not found in our religion but in His resurrection. Our life of devotion a result of His life in us and through us.
- We put no confidence in the flesh. Having cut off the flesh, having died to it, we know we have not been saved from the penalty of sin because of our offsetting good works. Nor are we being saved from the power of sin through our determined efforts. Nor are we to be saved from the very presence of sin because of our meritorious lives. But we are confident in our salvation–past, present, and future–because of who Christ is and what Christ has done and what He continues to do.
And so, we are the circumcision. Worshiping the right Who in the only acceptable how.
And that, by His grace.
And that, for His glory.