Scripture often uses a natural example to demonstrate a spiritual one. In Romans 2: 28-29 Paul expounds this concept: “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.”
When we entered into salvation the Lord Jesus gave us a new heart and endued us with His Holy Spirit to guide and teach us along our earthly journey. Our problems arise when our old nature seeks to rise up and stubbornly wants its own way, instead of yielding to the new, the life of Christ within. Paul defines this struggle with the old sin nature in Romans 7, but Romans 8 expounds the victorious life in Christ made available to us, giving assurance and hope for daily strength and enablement to live this Christian life.
The circumcision of the heart is the cutting away of the flesh…..that unsanctified flesh that would oppose Christ’s rule in my heart. Circumcision is a painful experience until the healing takes place. Once healed, conception can take place. As in the natural, so in the spiritual…….selah.
What area in my life does God seek to circumcise? All selfish ambition, fighting for rights, fighting my corner, seeking the approval of men and position, harbouring offence, unforgiveness, all has to be surrendered, cut away. Ineffectiveness has a loud voice! So many of our frustrations come out of an uncircumcised heart, one that is out of order. God is doing the same work in all of our hearts, but we all have different circumstances He is using. I do not have to strive to prop God up. If He has declared something, His word fulfills itself because when He speaks, creation takes place, (Genesis 1, Hebrews 4:12). As we surrender to the divine Guide, the Holy Spirit, the transformation takes place and our old ways of doing things and thinking become relics of a past life. We make our stand on this new resurrection ground until it becomes a lifestyle in Christ. He imparts His Life to us as we surrender our will and we begin to find a new joy in living, enabled and strengthened by His ability, not ours.
Joshua 5 records the Lord’s instruction to Joshua to circumcise every male that had been born in the wilderness wanderings before they were allowed to enter the Promised Land. God’s commandment for circumcision (Genesis 17) had been neglected in their travels. Joshua 5:8 records how the people waited until they were healed before they entered the Promised Land. There is a principle here. How many of us have laboured to impart to others, truths that we are not fully walking in, healing to others, when we are not fully healed ourselves? The Promised Land is our birthright in Christ, the fullness of God. God’s provision in that Land is fully comprehensive – spiritual and physical health, relationships, finance, provision in all areas. Only when we are fully healed will we be effective in our calling. This does not mean that we give up and do nothing. No! The Holy Spirit is leading us on, ever upward as we hear and obey. Do I recognise that in my own strength I am bankrupt without Him? Jesus, our Pattern Man declared: “I can of my own self do nothing. It is the Father in Me who does the works”. The One who declared He could do nothing of Himself, then did everything through the power of Another, the Father. Paul recognised this principle declaring: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, Philippians 4:13. So much of our confusion and frustration is due to our lack of understanding God’s ways. We cannot understand God with our natural sense knowledge. That has to be surrendered in order to hear His voice and direction. At times we may be required to wait, to sit still, in order to hear more clearly what the next step for direction is.
He who learns to sit still moves quickest when the Spirit prompts!
1 Peter 2:5 declares that we are lively stones built into a spiritual house. The stones used to build the temple in Jerusalem were prepared away from the temple and then brought and placed, fitly framed together. This parallels the work of preparation God is doing in our lives. He is chipping away at everything that misrepresents the life of His Son in us. As we yield to the divine Stonemason, He makes us into those lively stones to be fitly framed together. Ephesians 4 depicts the Body of Christ, His Church, coming to full stature with Christ as our Head.
Thank God, we are in His preparation process. He will have a people who will walk this earth and glorify His great name. Hebrews 3:14-15 challenges the uncircumcised heart: “For we are made partakers of Christ……today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts….”.