The Bible Answers Your Questions
Good News Magazine
October-November 1966
Volume: Vol XV, No. 10-11
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The Bible Answers Your Questions
Good News Staff  

Are you circumcised? If not, are you breaking Gods law?

   Many have caused themselves endless heartache and worry over Genesis 17:10, "This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised."
   One man circumcised himself and suffered severely for several weeks because he failed to understand God's teaching on this subject. You need to know how this law is to be applied today.
   Notice that the ordinance of physical circumcision was given to Israel a fleshly carnal nation before God's Spirit was made available to mankind. It was a covenant that Cod made with them as an outward sign of their willingness to be obedient.
   Notice in the 15th chapter of Acts that many Gentiles were being converted, and they balked at the idea of being circumcised. Yet, here were some Jews, apparently with the Law backing them up, saying, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved" (Acts 15:1).
   These newly converted Pharisees believed that circumcision was a passport into the Kingdom of God. Some, however, believed that circumcision was a yoke of bondage to the Gentile. To avoid a split in the Church a decision had to be made.
   After everyone had expressed his opinion, the apostle James was inspired to say that the converts were not to be burdened with such matters (Acts 15:19, 20).
   The apostle Paul further clarifies the issue in Romans 2:28, 29: "For 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."
   Since every Christian is to be circumcised in heart, the principle of circumcision still continues today as "an ever-lasting covenant" (Gen. 17:13).
   Yes, we do have to be circumcised today. But in the heart in the spirit through Jesus Christ not in the flesh. Spiritual circumcision is a process of conversion. That Christ circumcises us is made plain in Colossians 2:10-11, "Ye are complete in him [Christ) which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, [not something we do] in putting off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ [not us]."
   But, is it wrong to be circumcised for health reasons? Many eminent doctors and physicians feel that it is advisable for purposes of cleanliness and general health. Circumcision of newborn infants is not wrong in God's sight. Generally speaking, we urgently recommend circumcision of newborn infants for health and sanitary reasons but not for spiritual reasons.
   Many who are not circumcised when they are children, have to have it done later in life because of disease or irritation. Being circumcised as an adult is extremely painful and sometimes dangerous. It is best done when a child is eight days old and is less painful at that age than any other time in life.
   [Study pages 226-228 in Mr. Armstrong's book, GOD SPEAKS OUT on "The New Morality" for a more thorough and intimate explanation of circumcision in both religious and marital context. Editor]
   We must also remember that Paul had Timothy circumcised "because of the Jews" (Acts 16:3) for the sake of the Gospel. It is not wrong to be physically circumcised, provided that we DO NOT DO IT FOR SPIRITUAL REASONS!
   Physical circumcision profits nothing so far as getting into God's Kingdom is concerned. "Circumcision counts for nothing, uncircumcision counts for nothing; obedience to God's commands IS EVERYTHING" (I Cor. 7:19, Moffatt translation). The important thing is to obey God to be circumcised in heart, not in the flesh (Jet. 4:4).
   God is after an ATTITUDE OF MIND not a physical condition!

The Bible gives us the laws of clean and unclean meats, yet in I Corinthians 10:27 it makes an exception to these laws. Why? Mr. R. G., London

   Has God made exceptions to His Law? Does I Corinthians 10:27 permit us to eat unclean meat while dining at a friend's house in order to avoid offending him?
   First, let's consider the people Paul wrote this instruction to. The Corinthians were Greeks who had been converted from pagan idolatry. They came from a society where sacrificing to various gods was a daily way of life. Offerings usually sheep and goats were sacrificed in the pagan temples continually. The sacrificed meat was then eaten by the person who brought the offering.
   However, often not all the meat was. consumed. The priests were left each day with the carcasses of many animals. Not willing to miss a chance to turn a fast profit, they sold the extra meat to local butcher shops called "shambles" where the meat was sold to the public.
   This is where the problem came up.
   Paul warned the converts at Corinth not to become involved in pagan temple rituals or sacrifices (I Cor. 10:14-21). Christians should have no connection with such idolatrous practices.
   But the question arose What about eating the leftover sacrificial meat sold in the butcher shops? How were Christians to tell the difference between ordinary meat and that which came from pagan altars? And if you were invited to the home of a friend, how could you be sure the host wasn't serving "defiled" meat?
   This seemed to be a gigantic problem to many! Many were worried and anxious about it. Some were making mountains out of molehills!
   However, Paul explained the simple solution to the problem. He had already explained in verse 19 that the idol was nothing and that which was offered to idols wasn't anything. The idols were just wood and stone; and the meat offered to them was just meat. The sin involved was participating in a pagan religious ceremony (verses 20-21).
   Therefore, Paul told the Corinthians in verse 25, "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake." In other words, go ahead and buy whatever meat is sold in the shambles or meat markets, without asking whether it had been sacrificed to idols. Meat was meat it did not matter where the meat came from as long as it was good meat. There was no need to worry whether a particular piece of meat had been part of a pagan sacrifice. Even though you couldn't tell just by looking at it, it didn't make any difference.
   And the same principle applied to eating at the home of a friend. It did not matter where the meat came from or what had happened to it. Meat was meat regardless. As long as it was clean meat, it was all right to eat. That is why Paul said, "If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake" (verse 27).
   "Whatsoever" referred to both regular meat and that which had been sacrificed to idols. Paul was not even talking about clean versus unclean meats. He was not claiming God's dietary laws were done away. He was simply showing that it was all right to eat meat which at one time might have been sacrificed to an idol.
   However, Paul did add one warning. He said, "Ask no question for conscience sake" (verse 27). Don't ask the host where the meat came from. It is better to ignore that matter, since it doesn't make any difference. If the Christian questioned the host about the meat, and then ate it, the host might be led to think he were compromising his belief. Others present might also be led astray. They may feel that idol worship isn't so bad in the eyes of a Christian.
   Therefore the Christian guest shouldn't ask about the origin of the meat. Nevertheless, if someone else present does point out that the meat was used in a pagan sacrifice, then the Christian should not eat it, lest he offend that individual. If somebody bothers to volunteer the information that the meat is "tainted," then considering the conscience of the person who pointed this out, the Christian should refrain from eating it.
   Rather, the whole problem concerned whether certain meat had been sacrificed to idols a property which could only be determined by ASKING someone about it. If unclean meat had been involved, there would have been no reason to as& someone what it was they could tell just by looking or smelling.
   Paul, then, pointed out it was unnecessary to ask, "Was this meat first sacrificed to an idol before it found its place on this table?" It was alright to avoid bringing the subject up in the first place, to avoid offending anyone else. However, it is NOT permissible to eat unclean food served in the home of a friend in order to avoid offending the host. Unclean meats are not even under discussion in this chapter, but other parts of God's Word show they should never be eaten.

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Good News MagazineOctober-November 1966Vol XV, No. 10-11