Paul begins his rebuke of the Jew who is one outwardly, but not inwardly.
Romans 2:25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. NASB
V.25 “For indeed circumcision is of value…”
The LORD God had given the ritual of circumcision to Abraham and his descendants as a covenant between God and his chosen people. And not only to him and his descendants, but also for those servants of his who were bought from foreigners and those servants born in his house.
Genesis 17:9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. 13 A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” NASB
The LORD God had commanded that those who were to eat of the Passover meal must be circumcised as well. With these clear ordinances from The LORD to their ancestors it must have been hard for the Jewish people to accept the Gentiles as equals and allow them to participate in their worship and spiritual life.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. Exodus 12:43-44 NASB
V. 25 “… but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.”
When The Lord Jesus encountered opposition to healing on the Sabbath He proclaimed from the steps of the Temple on a feast day, John 7:19 “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. 22 For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” NASB
How important it is to judge the things we and others do with righteous judgement, not by appearance or what we’ve been taught by our church culture or secular culture. We can not have the mind of God, but we can try to use His commandment of Love to judge righteously, not-self righteously.
V.26 “So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?”
James the half Brother of our Lord explains it this way,
James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
V.27 “And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?”
James 4:11Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.
James 4:12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?
These statements seem to be in opposition, but many of the things Paul taught are hard to understand. As Peter put it,
2 Peter 3:15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction. NLT
V. 28 “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.”
These are the Words of The LORD God of Israel to them about the circumcision of the heart and why it is needed.
“If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me—I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.” Leviticus 26:40-42 NASB
V.29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
“Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:6 NASB
“So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:16-18 NASB
The truth is that The One God has always shown His love for all people in the testimony of the creation itself. He has created us in His own Image and sent His Son Jesus the Christ to be a ransom for not only is, but for the whole world. He is and always has sought doers of His Word and there is no partiality with God for He is a just Judge which can not be bribed. He can not be deceived, His judgements are true and He looks upon the heart.
Therefore let us all examine ourselves and allow the Spirit to circumcise our hearts and pray, Lord give us clean hands and give us pure hearts and strengthen us to keep our eyes upon You and live by the Spirit.