Romans, chapters 9-11

“Israel, although pursuing a law of righteousness, did not attain to that law. For what reason? Because they pursued it, not by faith, but as by works.”
~Romans 9:31,32

Once we have established a good spiritual routine that includes regular prayer and Bible reading, as well as participating at Christian meetings and the public ministry, we should be careful not to do things mechanically. (Ps. 1:1-3; 22:22; Ro. 10:14,15; 1 Th. 5:17)
The nation of Israel had received a rich spiritual heritage which should have led them to clearly identify God’s messiah.
But they concentrated so much on preserving traditions that they missed the point of what it meant to be dedicated to God. (Matt. 23:23,24)
When serving God is our way of life for a long period of time, we can begin to take some aspects of our worship for granted.
Perhaps we stop looking up Scriptures that we think we know by heart. Or our prayers gradually become more repetitive in choice of words. Maybe we don’t prepare for a Bible study if we already went over the material with a previous student. Or we wait till the last minute to prepare a meeting assignment we received weeks in advance.
If we don’t take the time to meditate on the unique value of our relationship with God and his people, our faith may become strained. Then we could lose our joy and start to forget why we dedicated our lives to Jehovah. (1 John 5:3)

Deuteronomy, chapters 7-10

“You must now cleanse your hearts and stop being so stubborn.”

~Deuteronomy 10:16

A more literal translation from the original Hebrew is: “And you must circumcise the foreskin of your hearts and not harden your necks any longer,” (De. 10:16, Reference Bible, 1984 revision).

Under Mosaic Law, Israelites were obligated to remove the foreskin of a baby boy’s penis eight days after birth (Le. 12:2,3).

It was a “sign of the covenant” Jehovah had formed with their ancestor, Abraham (Gen. 17:9-11).

However, physical circumcision was not the key to salvation.

They needed to be sincere in their dealings toward one another and accept God’s direction.

To “circumcise” the heart means to ‘love Jehovah with all your heart and all your soul,’ (De. 30:6).

This implies getting rid of immoral or arrogant attitudes which could keep God’s spirit from tapping into our thinking and motivating good deeds (Acts 7:51).

The aforementioned passage continues:
“Jehovah your God […] executes justice for the fatherless child and the widow and loves the foreign resident, giving him food and clothing.¬†You too must love the foreign resident […]”(De. 10:17-19).

That is why the covenant Christ made with his followers did not call for a physical mark such as circumcision (John 13:35).

Rather, Christians are obligated “to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world,” (Jam. 1:27).

In effect, “real” circumcision means to render sacred service with a clean heart by God’s spirit (Php. 3:3).