Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 3

Paul's disregard for physical circumcision constituted a crisis for the Jews and consequently brought persecution on him. Abandoning this mark of uniqueness amounted to societal suicide, because it had become their identity and badge of righteousness.

What did Paul see that permitted him to write the treasonous words, "circumcision means nothing"? By revelation he saw that the circumcision that initiated a man into the old Israel was only a figure of the circumcision "of their hearts" that God was really after (See Deuteronomy 10-6, 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:4). The new creation is inward and spiritual and so is the new circumcision. Paul wrote, "For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God" (Romans 2:28-29 RSV).

Paul also wrote the following:

In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, in which also you are risen with him through the faith of the working of God, who has raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (Colossians 2:11-14 KJ2000)

The true circumcision is not outward in the flesh nor is it performed by human hands. It is inward and made without hands. It is the circumcision of Christ, which occurs when you are buried with Christ in baptism-putting off the body of the sins of the flesh-and raised with him. This is the new creation circumcision.

We see a wonderful fore-type of this in Joshua 5:7-12. To the believer, the cross is everything that Gilgal was to Israel. Gilgal was the place where the new generation raised up by God first camped after they passed through the waters of the Jordan River into the land flowing with milk and honey. It was there at Gilgal that Joshua circumcised them. Joshua (Jesus' name in Hebrew) is a type of Christ and this event is a perfect figure of the circumcision exercised by Christ. When Joshua had finished circumcising all the Hebrew men, and they had healed, the LORD said to Joshua, "This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." Gilgal means rolling. Then the children of Israel did something that hadn't been done since their forefathers did it in Egypt. They kept the Passover. They ate the lamb (a type of Christ) and then the produce of the land. Gilgal was Israel's base of operations during the conquest of the Promised Land, and in the years that followed, they returned there often to remember. They went back to regain their vision and purpose.

The same is true of the Christian. We must return to our Gilgal often. It must be our base of operation. We must never forget its significance. We must remember the rolling away! We must remember the circumcision of Christ, the cross that deals with our flesh. If you are a Christian, you also are a new generation raised up by God. You are the true circumcision. You are a work of God alone as He conforms you into the image of His Son, cutting away all that is of the old Adamic nature, the flesh.

"For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances" (Philippians 3:3 AMP).

Unlike the old Israel, the new Israel has no confidence in the flesh. Everything is a matter of the heart. There is no regard for the flesh in this. He receives praise from God alone. He doesn't boasts in the flesh, neither does he regard anyone according to the flesh. God is no respecter of persons, but He does have regard for where His Son dwells by the Spirit and ". . . from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh."

We must prayerfully try to know other believers after the Spirit, to know them as new creatures and see them as God sees them. How often in church circles have we been guilty of judging one another after the flesh? We see Christ as risen, sitting at the right hand of the Father, but we look on those purchased with His blood as temporal and unchanged, or even worse, as unchangeable!

The love of Christ gives us new eyes as well. In Him we are empowered to look beyond the crude, rude and unattractive outward man that is perishing and see the inward man that is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). The love of Christ constrains us to view and relate to every believer through the lens of Christ's death and resurrection. His love gives us the clarity of vision to differentiate between the old Adam and the new Adam. Through that love Christ bore in His own body the penalty for Adam's sin. More than that, He bore in His own body the sinner and by that provided a way out of sin and death into the new creation reality.

Paul explains:

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of [out from] God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, (2 Corinthians 5:14-18 NKJV)

We have inherited a misleading view of redemption that makes Christ an assistant rather than a Savior. Christ is often depicted as someone we add to our lives to help fix us and make us better so we are more acceptable to God and our fellow Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus is not something we can add to our juju bag of magical tricks and potions. Jesus did not come to be under the control of Adam, but to displace him totally! As we grow in the knowledge of Him we begin to see that God "delivered us from the power of darkness" in order to translate us . . . remove us . . . carry us away . . . into an entirely new realm and reality. (Colossians 1:13). This new position of all believers in Christ is nothing short of a new heaven and a new earth. Peter used the figure of God's redemption of Noah and his family through the flood to describe it (1 Peter 3:21). It is as if you got on a ship and traveled to a distant land where everything is new, including you. This added dimension is the extraordinary characteristic of our redemption, which consists of more than being delivered from the dominion of sin, the world and the devil. It delivers us from that sinister person that has incessantly dogged our steps and repeatedly ruined our lives. It delivers us from us.

Every believer was with Christ when Christ was crucified, was with Christ when Christ was buried, and was with Christ when Christ was resurrected, and is now seated with Christ in heavenly places. The love of Christ constrains us to know one another in this way. We are raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This is what makes us the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6-10). This is what makes us new creatures in Christ.

The following chart may help us get a better perspective of so great a salvation.


In Christ we have been given a new heavenly position. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection. His ascension is our ascension. His victory is our victory. In Christ we are crucified to the world, dead to sin and released and empowered to live lives that are alive unto God.

The love of Christ constrains us to see all believers as new creatures and relate to them accordingly. Without Christ we are dead men walking. Yet, the life of God once it is born within us brings new life and it is all that is needed. It is an amazing thing. It can even be seen in the faces of those He dwells in. Have you ever met a person for the first time and it was like you knew them before? You probe each other's past and find that your paths never crossed; that the only thing you have in common is that Christ lives within you both. In the final analysis this is the only thing needed to have close fellowship from that point on.

When George and I (Michael) first met there was an instant bond between us. I found myself free to tell him everything about myself, yet I was perfectly safe. We refused to know one another after the flesh, but rather looked beyond the obvious to see Christ abiding within one another. That bond has lasted unto this very day, over ten years later. This is the nature of walking in the eternalness of God. In Proverbs we read, "Two cords wound together are stronger than two cords separately and a three fold cord is not easily broken." Two believers walking with Christ are that threefold cord. Has our bond in Christ been tested? Oh, yes, but greater is He that is in us than he that is the prince of this world. The key is that we keep yielding ourselves up to Christ in everything that happens.

It is in this spiritual connection with God that we are connected to other believers. We are all members of the body of Christ and as such each member must hold fast to the Head who is Christ (Colossians 2:18-19). It is in this joining to the Head that we can edify one another as members of His body. Paul wrote:

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, who is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body being fitly joined together and knit together by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16 KJ2000)

Just as God created man to relate to Him spiritually, He has given those whose spirits are alive unto Him the ability to know one another spiritually. We are joined to one another in Him. He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit. And so we can say without reservation, all those who are joined to the Lord are one Spirit. We are joined to Him and therefore attune to one another. So profound is this connection that Paul could write from Ephesus to the Corinthian believers and say, "For though absent in body I am present in spirit . . . When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 5:3-4 RSV).

Through new birth, there is a spiritual joining and knowing among all that are in Christ. "We have the mind of Christ."

Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 3

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