The heart of someone whom God has worked on, has circumcised, is and acts differently than before. But it is not God who, without permission, reaches down and circumcises without permission. It is our created state, our freedom from love, that allows us to regularly offer our hearts, motivations, and lives up to the God who offers to transform our sacrifices in His perfecting Love.
Wesley is also quick to include that this is not merely something than can happen, and one can boast. It is evidenced by the fruits of the Spirit in a persons life. That Spirit which is the source of all such transformation. That yes, we are called to “agonize first to enter in at the strait gate”, but it is not from our efforts this happens.
Wesley uses the scripture mentioned to remind the people that God has not called us solely to some non-physical “circumcision of the soul” where it’s all taking place in a ethereal spiritual realm, and we can only speak of it vaguely. He preaches right from the Gospel, which says “circumcision of the heart”. It is a very real sacrifice God is calling His followers to make in response to salvation offered in Christ.
In those days, it would probably seem like you are following “the law” simply because God has elected you as one who will. In the book of Romans, it was the religious leaders of the time who felt that God’s work was evidenced in the strict following of the law. John Wesley preaches these words to both misunderstandings using scripture and reminds people of his time and beyond that the law has been fulfilled by Christ. As God works on our hearts that we have offered to Him, we are made more and more into the image of Christ. So that “the mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus…and whether we eat, or drink, or whatever we do, we do all for the glory of God.”
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