Circumcise Your Heart!

In what ways did the Old Testament require inward devotion to God as well as outward obedience?

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Answer

Some people might read the Old Testament, with all its formal requirements for worship and holiness, and wonder, how does this outward obedience relate to inner obedience? And they might even mistakenly think that the New Testament calls for inner obedience while the Old Testament only called for outward. But within the Old Testament itself, it says it's not about the outward obedience only. In Deuteronomy 10, Moses gave a speech to the second generation saying, "Don't be like the first, but circumcise the foreskin of your hearts," meaning that the sign of the covenant wasn't simply to represent something external but something internal, to the heart. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul is confronted by the prophet Samuel who says, "Has the Lord as much delight in sacrifice as he has in obeying the voice of the Lord?" So, even though Saul had offered sacrifices, he hadn't given inner obedience. Psalm 51 says, the sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart. So, all the external ritual of the Old Testament was never intended by God to be seen as external only but pointing toward inward obedience.

Answer by Rev. Michael J. Glodo

Rev. Michael J. Glodo is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.