Spiritual Circumcision of the Heart

In this essay we will look at the "new birth" as a spiritual "circumcision" of the heart.

In the old testament (Gen. 17:7 14) we read where God established his covenant with Abraham and his seed after him for an everlasting covenant and gave them the ordinance of circumcision as a "token" of the covenant between God and Abraham. Every man child was to be circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin when he was eight days old. Thus circumcision identified them with the covenant God made with Abraham and his seed.  In Rom. 2:28, 29 we read of the "spiritual circumcision of the heart" as follows: "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: But 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."

In Col. 2:11 we read how this spiritual circumcision of the heart takes place, "In 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." There are several points we wish to make about this "spiritual circumcision of the heart." First, this circumcision is performed by Christ and it is done without hands. This is a direct operation performed by Jesus Christ upon the sinner's heart and it is done without human instrumentality.

Second, as the ordinance of natural circumcision was a token of the covenant God made with Abraham and his seed, so spiritual circumcision of the heart is tied to the eternal covenant of redemption as set forth in Rom. 8:28 30. It is in the process of "God's calling" that the covenant children have their hearts circumcised.

Third, as natural circumcision identified the recipient with the covenant promises made to Abraham and his seed, so spiritual circumcision of the heart in the new birth identifies the recipient with God's covenant promises in the covenant of redemption. It is in the evidences of the new birth that we are able to identify ourselves and others with those covenant promises of election, predestination, justification, and glorification.

Fourth, as in natural circumcision there was a cutting away of the foreskin of the flesh, so in spiritual circumcision there is a "putting off the body of the sins of the flesh." When we are born again we begin to realize we are sinners, but we are also brought to understand that Jesus died to put away our sins. As a result of the new birth we see our sins put away by Jesus covenant work of redemption on the cross. He was made to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God by him (II Cor. 5:21).

Fifth, as natural circumcision was performed on the eight day and eight is the bible number associated with new beginnings, so spiritual circumcision of the heart is a new beginning for those thus circumcised. II Cor. 5:17, "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold all things are become new." When we are born again, we are a "new beginning" spiritually.  Whereas, before, we had no spiritual life and were incapable of understanding spiritual things and had no desire for the things of God, afterwards, we have spiritual life and thus are capable of comprehending spiritual things and desire the things of God.

Sixth, spiritual circumcision is performed on the heart. It involves a change of the heart (seat of emotions). After the new birth we have a heart that greatly desires and longs for the things of God. It cries out "abba father" and is emotionally tied to the covenant work of Jesus Christ.

Seven, spiritual circumcision of the heart makes us an "inward Jew." We are now associated with the people of God through an inward work of grace on our heart performed by the Holy Spirit. The word Judah means "praise." We are now the "praise" of God not through our works but as a result of God's inward work. Furthermore, as inward Jews we should give "praise" to God for his unspeakable gift.