Posts tagged ‘Circumcision’

Circumcision of the Heart

The Old Testament is replete with types and shadows that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. One of those Old Testament symbols of the covenant was circumcision. Circumcision was so integral to the Old Covenant that the concept of an uncircumcised Jew was unheard of.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, he says that baptism is the spiritual fulfillment of circumcision.

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11, 12 ESV)

Now that we are in the New Covenant with Christ, we experience a circumcision that is spiritual and of the heart. And according to Paul, this spiritual circumcision occurs at baptism. Fittingly, the concept of an unbaptized Christian is just as foreign to the New Testament as an uncircumcised Jew was to the Old Testament.

But is this verse in Colossians saying that baptism is what saves us? Well, was Abraham declared righteous before being circumcised or afterwards? According to Romans chapter 4, at what point was Abraham declared righteous?

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 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. (Romans 4:7-10 ESV)

It was Abraham’s faith that caused him to obey the commandment of God and be circumcised, and it would be accurate to say that if Abraham had refused to obey God that he did not have faith. His obedience proved his faith. In the same way, we are declared righteous when we have faith, and that faith is proven, or validated, by our submitting to baptism.

Thus, salvation is by faith, and that faith is shown by our baptism. Righteousness comes by faith, and is not of works. We are saved by faith, not by faith plus a ritual. But that sign of the covenant must not be diminished or disregarded, either. Just as faith without obedience is out of context, obedience without faith is useless as well. But the connection of the old circumcision to baptism is clear. And Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God before he was circumcised. In the same way, we are declared righteous when we believe, and we submit to the sign of our covenant relationship when we are baptized. Failure to do so proves we didn’t really believe in the first place.

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Circumcision Via Baptism

Circumcision By Baptism

Under the Old Testament systems in the Patriarchal and Mosaic covenants, there was a sign instituted between God and Abraham that would show who truly belonged to God. This sign was called circumcision and was instituted by God, because no man would ever have thought of this.

and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. (Genesis 17:11 NKJV)

But circumcision is no longer a requirement today. It has been replaced by baptism (amen) as stated by the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Colossians chapter 2.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11, 12 NKJV)

In former times, circumcision was a sign between man and God, but under the New Covenant, it is that and so much more! For Abraham, the circumcision of the flesh occurred after faith, so Romans 4:9-12 says he was justified by faith before the circumcision happened. But in baptism, the saving faith by which one is justified before God happens simultaneously with immersion.

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:28, 29 NKJV)

So now, instead of a sign on our flesh, God uses baptism to mark or hearts permanently as His. This is a mark that only God can see. Someone can say they have the mark, but only God knows if they are true or not. At is why their praise is from God, and why we need to be satisfied with little or no praise and recognition from men. We must learn that only God’s approval matters in the end.

When people witness our baptism, they are not just watching as a soul is saved. They are seeing a circumcision take place. By salvation being a public thing, we are telling all who see it that we desire to be in covenant relationship with Jesus. Like it said in Colossians 2, as we participate in the death, burial and resurrection at baptism, we enter into the covenant that His blood was shed to inaugurate for us. And because of the faith we have in the “operation of God” that is transferring us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Son, our faith and obedience combine to spiritually mark us and set us apart for God.

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