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Circumcision of the Heart
by Susan Budensiek
8/26/2018 / Bible Studies
Since circumcision was so very important under the Old Covenant, why is circumcision of the heart taken so lightly nowadays under the Renewed Covenant?
"A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code..." Rom. 2:28-29
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross." Col. 2:9-14
I wondered if the fact that there are “carnal Christians” and what I have often referred to as “theological Christians” for lack of a better term, has anything to do with circumcision of the heart. Both types of professing Christians may know a lot and do lots of good deeds, but something is missing in their witness. I have always referred to that missing element as supernatural heart surgery performed within them that makes all the difference. It is time for me to find out the truth.
2 Timothy 3:7 comes to my mind: “who are always learning but never able to come to full knowledge of the truth.” (CJB)
- Born again = salvation = conversion = professing belief in Yeshua haMashiyach (Jesus Christ); Ruach haKodesh = Holy Spirit
- When does the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) begin to dwell within the believer? (Immediately at the moment of being born again, at or after baptism, a process that takes place over time?) At the moment of TRUE conversion –Ephesians 1:13 (CJB) “Furthermore, you who heard the message of the truth, the Good News offering you deliverance, and put your trust in the Messiah were sealed by him with the promised Ruach HaKodesh”
(NASB) “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your
Salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise”
There is a distinct difference between the Ruach haKodesh indwelling us and the Spirit filling us. The filling of the Ruach haKodesh was something used by YHWH since the Old Testament times. (Deuteronomy 34:9; 1 Samuel 19:18-24; Luke 1:15) After the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Ruach haKodesh continued to fill people including Paul (Acts 13:9), Peter (Acts 13:52), and the other disciples (Acts 15:32). This is much different than the indwelling of the Spirit experienced by all TRUE believers. He will never leave TRUE believers. (John 14:16)
CONCLUSION: We must ask for Him to dwell in us. (Luke 11:13) The work of the Ruach haKodesh is to write Torah in the inward parts, which is confirmed by the appearance of “fruits” of the Spirit. In other words, each one of us must prepare a place in our hearts to welcome the Ruach haKodesh. The scriptures tell us that the Ruach haKodesh “indwells” us at the moment of TRUE conversion. (Ephesians 1:13)
- When does circumcision of the heart take place? How? (Immediately at the moment of being born again, at or after baptism, a process that takes place over time?)
Short answer – after a person has become a believer in Yeshua, and enough time has passed that his faith has grown through study, and a TRUE lifestyle change is evident. It is NOT the same as being “born again”.
Long answer – Paul enlightened people to the fact that circumcision comes after faith, after a person believes, after they have made a lifestyle change: “And the father of the circumcision; not to them only who are of the circumcision, but to them also who fulfill the steps of the faith of our father Awraham in (his) uncircumcision.” Romans 4:12 (AENT) Note from the AENT: “Rav Shaul is teaching that Awraham’s physical circumcision came after he believed, after he had faith, after his heart was circumcised, in opposition to a contemporary false teaching that circumcision should come first before belief or faith. At no time does Rav Shaul ever discount physical circumcision; he simply rejects false religious traditions that turned circumcision into a device to control new converts.”
According to the illustration YHWH gives us in the Old Testament circumcision is not optional, and failure to do so was grounds for exclusion from the Old Covenant. Since YHWH consistently shows us physical illustrations all through the Old Testament (the Old Covenant) so that we can understand the same principle in the spiritual sense under the Renewed Covenant, to discard the spiritual fulfillment and reality would defy one of YHWH’s great attributes – His unchanging consistency.
In keeping with physical circumcision of the Israelite people, several comparisons can be made. Some are:
- Circumcision was performed on the eighth day after birth, not right away after the baby was born.
YHWH lovingly nurtures us for a time (comparable to the eight days after physical birth), working in our lives to prepare us for His dealings.
- Physical circumcision is the cutting off of flesh that is unnecessary.
Likewise YHWH cuts off what is unnecessary, spiritually.
- The eighth day signifies a new beginning – something is different after circumcision.
Spiritual circumcision is the removal of the old fleshly nature, which begins at conversion, continues through baptism (which becomes the “sign” of the Renewed Covenant), and will be a continuous spiritual work in us throughout our lives.
- Priests circumcised the Israelite baby boys.
In the same manner YHWH does not ask us to spiritually circumcise ourselves. The Ruach haKodesh does it. This is to teach us to YIELD to His Spirit. (Romans 2:28-29; Colossians 2:9-14)
In Colossians 2:9-14 circumcision is the common theme, both physical and spiritual; but Paul also brings in baptism and says that a circumcision takes place at that point. Some of the old flesh nature is cut away and the Spirit of YHWH is passed on to us. Baptism then becomes the “sign” of the Renewed Covenant, just as circumcision was the “sign” of the Old Covenant. Paul says something happens in our lives when we yield to baptism in faith. Again it is obvious that scripture is speaking as if the conversion was genuine. If a person obediently yields to baptism in faith and understanding, a spiritual work would take place in his or her life without a doubt. However, when there is no evidence of a life change, there has been no spiritual circumcision and thus no conversion.
- Why did Yeshua say that many will say “Lord, Lord, etc.” in Matthew 7, and then tell them that He never knew them? How could they cast out devils and heal in Yehua’s name if He never knew them?
“23. And then will I profess unto them—or, openly proclaim—tearing off the mask.
I never knew you—What they claimed—intimacy with Christ—is just what He repudiates, and with a certain scornful dignity. "Our acquaintance was not broken off—there never was any."
depart from me—(Compare Mt 25:41). The connection here gives these words an awful significance. They claimed intimacy with Christ, and in the corresponding passage, Lu 13:26, are represented as having gone out and in with Him on familiar terms. "So much the worse for you," He replies: "I bore with that long enough; but now—begone!"
ye that work iniquity—not "that wrought iniquity"; for they are represented as fresh from the scenes and acts of it as they stand before the Judge. (See on the almost identical, but even more vivid and awful, description of the scene in Lu 13:24-27). That the apostle alludes to these very words in 2Ti 2:19 there can hardly be any doubt—"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
The name of Yeshua carries so much power that even devils tremble - “You believe that "God is one"? Good for you! The demons believe it too - the thought makes them shudder with fear!”
James 2:19 (CJB)
So should the focus on this passage be on why those who will enter are able to do so rather than those who are denied entry? There is a simple answer to the question, “who among those who say "Lord, Lord…" will enter? And that answer is, “those who do the will of the Father.”
Those who TRULY place their trust completely in Yeshua haMashiyach have done the will of the Father and have already passed from death to life (John 5:24 CJB “Yes, indeed! I tell you that whoever hears what I am saying and trusts the One who sent me has eternal life -- that is, he will not come up for judgment but has already crossed over from death to life!”) and will not come into judgment regarding their eternal destiny (John 3:18 CJB “Those who trust in him are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the one who is God's only and unique Son.”)
But those who seriously seek answers are still left with the questions, who are those who Yeshua will turn away and why are they being turned away? Am I one who will be one who is denied by Yeshua? – Especially after pondering the unpopular fact that circumcision of the heart is not immediately accomplished at the moment one is born again. There are undoubtedly those who will use the power of Yeshua’s name for profit, their own glory, etc. probably knowing He is not really their Lord. But the very saddest case of all will be hearing the words, “Lord, Lord have we not prophesied, cast out demons, and done many wonders in Your name" coming from the mouths of people who in this life were pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers, even missionaries who endured great difficulties in the mission fields. They may have baptized hundreds and done many good deeds. And Yeshua does not question whether they did those things or not, but denies them entrance to the Kingdom because they failed to trust in Yeshua haMashiyach only and thereby failed to do the will of the Father. This would be an example of assuming one’s heart is circumcised at conversion so spiritual growth is not pursued.
Carnal Christians and theological Christians are “nominal” Christians. Nominal Christianity cannot save. Yeshua does not dwell in their hearts (That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” Ephesians 3:17 GNV) nor do they have His mind (“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he might instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 GNV) Judgement day will find them trying to justify themselves because of their own good works and neglecting the only “work” that matters to YHWH, “to have faith in the One He sent.”
Then I had a quick “leftover” thought.
Is “sanctification” the same thing as “circumcision of the heart”?
Easton’s Bible Dictionary says: “Circumcision as a symbol shadowing forth sanctification by the Holy Spirit has now given way to the symbol of baptism. But the truth embodied in both ordinances is ever the same, the removal of sin, the sanctifying effects of grace in the heart.”
It all boils down to Acts 4:13 – “…they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (NASB). As Charles Spurgeon wrote, basing a sermon on this scripture, “A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ is His living biography, written out in the words and actions of His people. If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be, we should be pictures of Christ; yea, such striking likenesses of Him, that the world would not have to hold us up by the hour together, and say, "Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;" but they would, when they once beheld us, exclaim, "He has been with Jesus;”
I was raised in church but always felt like I was missing something. Now the Word of God excites me! My curiosity enhances pursuance of discernment. I have often felt discouraged, but not totally defeated knowing that in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! Click here and TRUST JESUS NOW
Read more articles by Susan Budensiek
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