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Circumcision as first used in the Bible is the same physical circumcision that is practiced today, but it was used of the Lord as a token of His covenant with Abraham.  Let’s read Genesis 17:10-14, “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.  He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.”  Although the covenant was for all men and women, the Lord consecrated the covenant through the male.  This circumcision was used by the Lord as a physical symbol of His covenant with His people, the Jews.  From this, we see the Jewish people being referred to as ‘the circumcision’ as we read in Acts 10:45, “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Circumcision, at the beginning, was practiced only by the Jews.  The Gentiles, or anyone that is not Jewish, were referred to as the uncircumcision as we read in Galatians 2:7 where Paul speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles.  That says, “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.”

This cutting off of the flesh is a type of man acknowledging that whatever is born of man is sinful.  There is simply no good in man apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.  So, circumcision speaks of dying to, or cutting off, the fleshly nature.  It was required, as part of the Jewish law, that every male be circumcised, as we just read in Genesis 17:12.

What about today?  Is it a requirement of the Lord that all men be circumcised?  First of all, as Gentiles we are not and never were, under the Jewish law.  To be circumcised as a way of trying to gain righteousness is useless.  The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:19, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing…”  We read in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, who were Gentiles, in Galatians 5:2-6, “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”  It is not the work of circumcision that the Lord requires of us for salvation; it is the exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus that gives salvation.  We read of Abraham in Romans 4:11, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”  Righteousness is imputed unto us through faith, or belief, in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We learn in Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”  That is, through faith, we are the true children of Abraham, and people of God.  We, as Christians are alone the true and spiritual circumcision, and accounted circumcised by God.  (109.5)