Recently in a Sunday evening service I was speaking on the true circumcision that God desires that we practice today. Remember that circumcision was the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham and was instituted when Abraham was 99 years old. Even in the Old Testament God desired more than just this outward sign of the covenant relationship. In the book of Deuteronomy Moses wrote “Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more” (10:16 NASB) and later in the same book, “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, in order that you may live”, (30:6 NASB). So we see even in the Old Testament God desired the circumcision be more than just a rite of passage for 8 day old baby boys.When we come to the New Testament we see even a clearer explanation that true circumcision is really about heart change. In the 6th chapter of Galatians Paul is talking about those who would demand circumcision as a sign of keeping the law (v.12-13). But in the 14th verse we read, “But may it never be that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything; nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (v.14-15 NASB). Notice that true boasting is found in the cross alone. The cross is the great divide. Even though it was the cruelest instrument of execution ever devised it is also the event that separated a righteousness gained by attempting to follow the law and a righteousness that is received purely based on Christ alone. The cross tells us the truth about ourselves; we are sinners and have no standing before God apart from Christ’s death on Calvary’s cross. That is the only source of our boasting.
Later on in Paul’s letter to the Philippians Paul would write, “For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (3:3 NASB). In the following verses (v.4-7), Paul would distance himself from all the things he used to put his confidence in. In verse 3 Paul talks about worshipping God in the Spirit. People have an inbuilt need and desire to worship something greater than themselves; everyone is actually worshipping something or someone. But to worship God in the Spirit refers to the inward flow of the Holy Spirit into our lives. This “true circumcision” is seen in a broken heart that allows God access to every area of our lives. One author wrote “at some point during a person’s life, the Holy Spirit turns the heart of stone into a heart of flesh, that may be a gradual process, beginning from the youngest stages of childhood, or it may be a radical transforming experience, but it has to happen.”
Let us never get to the point where our hearts are so hard that God’s Spirit can’t convict us or can’t change us because we think we’ve arrived. Worldly rituals like circumcision are meaningless, inconsequential, accomplishing nothing, but what God really wants is a broken heart of repentance and a new creation in Christ. Let us make David’s prayer from the 51st Psalm our own prayer when he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from thy presence, and do not take thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors thy way, and sinners will be converted to Thee.” (v.10-13 NASB). Shalom.
All for Christ,
Pastor Rich Sivo