As you no doubt know, circumcision was a commandment that God gave to the nation of Israel as a SIGN that they were in a special “covenant relationship” with Him as His chosen people. It began with Abraham (the father of the Hebrew nation) in Genesis 17:9-11, “And God said to Abraham: ‘As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and IT SHALL BE A SIGN OF THE COVENANT BETWEEN ME AND YOU” (NKJV). It did NOT save the soul of the one who was circumcised but it did set them apart to God outwardly as His chosen people. The “cutting off of the foreskin” illustrated their “separation from the Gentile nations.”

This PHYSICAL SIGN was given to Israel alone. Gentiles were never commanded to be circumcised nor were believers in Christ who make up the Church of God. Yet there is nothing wrong with Gentiles or believers in Christ undergoing circumcision (medical or traditional) if one is having it done for HEALTH BENEFITS. The health benefits include: 1) Easier hygiene, 2) A decreased risk of urinary tract infections, and 3) A reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases. But if one is undergoing circumcision to gain a SPIRITUAL BENEFIT, it would be wrong. In Galatians 6:15 the Apostle Paul makes this clear, for he says “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” Again, circumcision has health benefits, but it has zero spiritual benefits. Earlier in Galatians 5:1-2 Paul addressed those who actually thought they had to be circumcised to be saved, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made you free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ SHALL PROFIT YOU NOTHING.” In short, Paul was saying that if you believe you have to be circumcised to be saved, you are “adding to the finished work of Christ and the cross is of no value to you since you aren’t trusting in Christ alone.”

Before we close, let’s look at Romans 2:28-29, “For he is not a Jew who is one OUTWARDLY, nor is circumcision that which is OUTWARD IN THE FLESH; but he is a Jew who is one INWARDLY; and circumcision is THAT OF THE HEART, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” This does not contradict what we saw earlier in Genesis 17:9-11, for we said that circumcision DID NOT SAVE THE SOUL OF THE ONE CIRCUMCISED. God looks on THE HEART to see the faith that saves, not on the mark of circumcision in a man’s BODY. When God sees “faith in Christ” in a Jewish heart He counts them as righteous, as we see in Romans 10:10, “With the HEART one believes unto righteousness.” The very moment a sinner (Jew or Gentile) believes on the Lord Jesus Christ God JUSTIFIES him/her (see Romans 3:21-26). He also sees that person as “identified with Christ in His death” (see Romans 6:6) where THE FLESH (the “sinful nature” in us) WAS CONDEMNED. We see this truth in Romans 8:3, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through THE FLESH, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of SINFUL FLESH, on account of sin: He CONDEMNED SIN THE FLESH.” So, in Christ’s death THE FLESH HAS BEEN CUT OFF. God has judged it in the death of Christ! This, dear friend, is the “circumcision that is of the heart.” We also see this truth of SPIRITUAL CIRCUMCISION in Colossians 2:11, “In Him (Christ) you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by PUTTING OFF THE BODY OF THE SINS OF THE FLESH, by the circumcision of Christ.” This is the believer’s POSITION before God, for God sees the believer’s FLESH as judged and put away in the death of Christ. As we enter into this wonderful truth (that the “ROOT of sin” has been cut off in God’s sight), we will be able to judge the “FRUIT of sin” in our PRACTICAL lives and “reckon ourselves to be DEAD INDEED TO SIN, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11).  (476.1)  (DO)