Circumcision in Heart – When God gave command to circumcise in Gen 17:10, Jews ceremoniously and diligently kept the commandment counting on that practice to get right with God. Circumcision, or the cutting away of the flesh, was a sign that could never save anyone, but it served to point to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus who was spiritually “cut off” by having to endure Hell for His people. They didn’t realize God is pointing to the spiritual truth of circumcising the foreskin of their heart and is spiritual in nature – that is, the spiritual reality of salvation by the cutting away of sin and “by the circumcision of Christ” – the shedding of Christ’s blood in the Atonement. Of course, no one can perform that operation on his own heart – and so they failed to see, that only God can circumcise the hearts (Deu 30:6). That is the meaning of the “circumcision made without hands” mentioned in Col 2:11. And what “instrument” is used to perform this type of “surgery” on one’s heart (or soul)? It can only be the “Sword of the Spirit” – the Word of God, the Bible – as Heb 4:12 indicates. Only those whose hearts have been spiritually circumcised by God are “born from above” – Salvation is a matter of the heart and takes place in a person’s soul, or heart, when he is spiritually cut by the Word of God. The reason for the statement “… whose praise is not of men, but of God” in Rom 2:29, is because God has to do all the work of salvation, and He gets all the praise and glory for it.
Deu 10:16 “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.”
Rom 2:28-29 “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
Deu 30:6 “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”
Col 2:10-11 “And ye are complete in him [Christ], which is the head of all principality and power: 11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:”
Heb 4:12 “For the word of God is quick [or living], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
- Baptism in the Holy Spirit – God replaced the Old Testament sign of physical circumcision with the New Testament sign of water baptism, and many today stumble on the spiritual significance of physical, water baptism in the same way the Israelites stumbled on the spiritual significance of physical circumcision of the male reproductive organ. Both physical signs point to the cleansing work of Christ in the Atonement at the Cross to “wash away” and “cut off” the sins of His people. Many people today do not understand that God is speaking about spiritual baptism in verses such as Mark 16:16, and they erroneously believe that water baptism is necessary for salvation: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…”. Water baptism (nor any other man-centered means or cermonies) itself cannot wash away our sins (Job 9:30-31, Acts 8:13,23), and does not in any way initiate, or facilitate, or guarantee one’s salvation. Only the spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit is an integral part of the salvation as we read in Acts 11:16, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4:5. The ceremony of water baptism is only to signify that a true believer has been “baptized” by the Holy Spirit (has had his sins washed away) when he became saved. God often used physical things to typify spiritual things in the Bible. For example, He frequently used the word “water” to typify the Holy Spirit and the Gospel, as in the passages John 3:5, Eze 36:25-27, Eph 5:25-27. Only God can make someone “born again” by baptizing them with Holy Spirit and washing them with his blood and the Word of God. Which is why Rom 10:17 declares “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”.
Job 9:30-31 “If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.”
Acts 8:13,23 “Then Simon [the sorcerer] himself believed also: and when he was baptized [in water], he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 23For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.[language pointing to the condition of being unsaved]”
Acts 11:16 “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”
1 Cor 12:13 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
John 3:5 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Eze 36:25-27 “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
Eph 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he [Lord Jesus Christ] might sanctify and cleanse it [the Church] with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it [the Church] should be holy and without blemish.”
John 6:63 “It is the spirit that quickeneth [make alive]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
Tit 3:4-7 “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”