Did God Change His Mind?

Message:  In Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch and some men came from Judea and began teaching the new gentile believers that they couldn’t be saved unless they were circumcised. Since they were gentiles none of them had ever been circumcised because this was a Jewish command. This command had dated back to Abraham long before the law and it also usually included foreigners who lived in their camps and cities with them. This was the only way they were able to live among them without them becoming ceremonially unclean. Their argument was somewhat valid but it was missing something important. They no longer had to worry about being ceremonially unclean because the old way of sacrificing for each individual sin and trying to stay clean was replaced by the ultimate and permanent sacrifice- Jesus. Peter reminded them all that God had given him a vision showing him all of the unclean animals and telling him to kill and eat. He sent men to bring him to the home of a gentile and preach the gospel to them all and when he did they were all baptized in the Holy Spirit just like they had been. Peter reminded them that God saw them with no distinct difference than the Jews and because of the blood sacrifice of Jesus, the Jews no longer had to cleanse themselves and the gentiles were invited into the new covenant with none of the old requirements. This chapter is important to most of us as gentiles ourselves because we weren’t part of the old covenant, so people who try to subject us to the old rules of the law are just like the men who tried to make circumcision a requirement of salvation. It’s not that God changed his mind about what was right or wrong, and clean or unclean. Sin is still sin but the things that make us unclean have been made permanently clean once we surrender our lives to Jesus because of the blood sacrifice of he made. We don’t have to hide our faces from God in shame anymore. This doesn’t mean we do whatever we want- remember when we surrender our lives to Jesus we surrender our will and follow his. It means that we don’t have to run in circles trying to keep ourselves from being contaminated by our environment. The circumcision that used to be a physical sign to the Jews had become a new covenant where we instead circumcise our hearts to keep our hearts from becoming polluted and contaminated with sin.

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