10 How [pos] was it [logizomai] then [oun] reckoned [logizomai]? when he was [on] in [en] circumcision [peritome], or
[e] in [en]
uncircumcision [akrobustia]? Not [ou] in [en] circumcision [peritome], but [alla] in [en] uncircumcision [akrobustia].
10 How then
was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was
not after, but before he was circumcised. ESV
Righteousness came to Abraham, by means of His faith, which is his belief in Gods promise, and it came to him before he was circumcised, Gen. 15:6.
It was not until much later, Gen. 17:10, that God commanded him to be circumcised, which then became a sign or recognition, of his faith, not the means or method of salvation.
And so, works is rejected as the means of salvation, and by the same principle, works is rejected in all facets of the spiritual life.
Human works does not gain you any credit or brownie points with God.
And by faith, which is a general expression, is the means of all aspects of the spiritual life. Whether you are confessing, studying, learning, memorizing, praying, whatever. This is all by means of faith.
For the basis of faith is that you believe all that God has promised.
Believe and you will be saved.
Confess and you will be forgiven and restored into fellowship.
Ask and you will receive.
Study and you will learn.
Advance in your spiritual life and you will become mature.
Whatever it is that you do, (helping the little old lady across the street, changing diapers, working at your job, driving your car, sleeping in bed, taking out the trash, Bible study, praying, giving, etc. etc. etc), when in fellowship, you then are credited with divine good.
The key is, when in fellowship. Then your effort is divine good (gold, silver, precious stones).
But when out of fellowship, and be careful of your intentions here too, for wrong intentions are a sin, then your efforts whatever they may be, are not divine good, but human good, and no spiritual credit is given for human good (wood, hay, stubble).
Therefore the date of circumcision is important, in that it came after Abraham had already believed and had already been credited.
Circumcision is representative of works, human works, or so many people would have you believe.
But actually, circumcision is an overt recognition of God and His promises, and of the faith that has already occurred. The recognition comes after the fact, and is not the cause of the fact.
Today we have many such recognitions, baptism, communion, Christmas, Easter, memorials, and so forth. These things are there to serve as reminders of faith and of Gods faithfulness and promises, and entire realm of the spiritual life. They are not the cause of salvation or of the spiritual life.