by Terry Wane Benton
Circumcision was the cutting off of the foreskin of the males in Israel. Why was it done? It was a daily reminder that the offspring coming through these people (Israel) would one day bless all nations through the “seed of Abraham” (Genesis 12:1-4), and this mark in the flesh was to remind each man daily to keep himself clean for such a holy Redeemer. The Gentiles (non-Israelites) were not blessed with such a mission. Circumcision was a daily reminder for the Jews.
After the Messiah came, circumcision was no longer important. The Seed had come (Galatians 3:16) and now circumcision “is nothing” (I Corinthians 7:19). To bind circumcision now on others is to fall from grace (Galatians 5:1-4) and obligate one to do all the things enjoined by the Law of Moses on Israel. You couldn’t just pick out circumcision and bind it alone. It is all or none.
Circumcision also had a typological value for Israel. As it illustrated cutting away uncleanness of the flesh, it pointed to the cutting away of sin that God would do for us in Christ. Physical circumcision required human hands to do the surgery. In Christ, when we are baptized into Him, God performs a surgery “without hands”. He cuts away our sins (Colossians 2:11-12). He performs a spiritual circumcision of removing sins from our lives and our record.
Christians are circumcised in this spiritual way, and they form God’s holy nation (I Peter 2:5-9). We form a spiritual nation, not a physical one, and we have a spiritual circumcision, not a physical one. We have a spiritual house instead of a physical house as the Jews formerly had in earthly Jerusalem. Our spiritual circumcision happens when we are baptized into union with Christ (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:3-6).
Fleshly circumcision is nothing to God now. It served its temporal purpose, preparing for the real circumcision we could have in Christ after Jesus’ death on the cross provided the means of justly removing the sins of the penitent, baptized believer.
Have you had this circumcision that happens without human hands? Have you come to Christ on His terms for this greater circumcision?