Rightly Dividing the Word
There are two main covenants in the Bible. The Old Covenant of law given by Moses to the Jews and the New Covenant of grace and truth brought by Jesus. These two covenants are not to be mixed. Mixing law with grace makes grace of no effect – Gal 5:4 and Rom 11:6. If mixed, things can also be confusing for the reader, like the topic of circumcision. As believers, we are called to rightly divide the word of truth.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15 KJV
Believers are circumcised as we will read, but this following verse is not talking about believers in the gospel. It is talking about the Jews who were circumcised by the hand of man. This is the Old Covenant type of circumcision of which most Christians are familiar and is only a shadow of the truth that is revealed in the New Covenant.
For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, Titus 1:10 NAS
The next verse is talking about believers in the gospel and the true circumcision performed by God. This verse is speaking of the New Covenant and can be a Jew or Gentile.
for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, Phil 3:3 NAS
Shadows of the true reality
Circumcision by man’s hand and the lamb offered for sins in the Old Testament were all shadows of the reality to come. While we can learn many things from a shadow, when the truth appears, we would be fools to embrace the shadow.
The Jews act of circumcision by hand was a physical sign that they belonged to God, it set them apart from the Gentiles. But the Jews sinned like all humanity and broke the laws God gave them. This made their circumcision by human hands of no effect. In truth, in their heart, they were no different than the Gentiles who God had not given the law too. The law makes no difference in the heart. It only deals with behavior modification when God is interested in heart transformation. These next verses are talking about circumcision by man practiced by the Jews under the Old Covenant.
For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. Rom 2:25-28 NAS
This following verse tells us about the true circumcision performed by God.
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. Rom 2: 29 NAS
The true circumcision is not done by the hand of man. God does it as He sets apart our newly born Spirit from our flesh.
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: Co 2:11 NKJV
The true circumcision happens when a person believes the gospel and their Spirit is born-again and is set apart (sanctified and made holy) from our sin-laden flesh. This new Spirit is of God and is righteous, sanctified, holy, perfected and sealed by the Holy Spirit from contamination. Our newly born Spirit has no desire to sin. But in our flesh the same Sin nature we inherited from Adam dwells. This causes the battle of the flesh and the Spirit that we all experience as Paul talks about in Romans 7.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. Rom 7:14-20 NAS
God circumcises (cuts off) the sinful flesh Paul is talking about in Romans 7
Picture for a moment if you will a physical circumcision performed by a doctor on a baby. Flesh is cut off and then the baby is set apart from the cut off flesh. Naturally, the cut off flesh dies. In the same way, Jesus has circumcised our sinful flesh, cut it off from our perfected Spirit. Cuts it off from the great inheritance that awaits us. Cuts it off from eternal life. What God says is done is as good as done right now. Our flesh was crucified on the cross with Christ and is dead right now as far as God is concerned. Ultimately, this death of our flesh that God views as complete right now, will be visible in this world.
Unfortunately, many believers think they are supposed to perfect this dead piece of circumcised flesh with the law, which is a waste of time, a dead work.
These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. Col 2:23 NAS
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Gal 3:1-5 NAS
God has already made us complete, perfected us in Christ, and at the right time, we will see this fully. For now, we believe God and walk by faith in the Spirit and not by sight. God has set us free from this body of death as Paul calls our flesh. Our flesh that will never be redeemed and will certainly die.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Col 2:8-17 NAS
As a follower of Christ who believes the word, like God has already done, we put zero faith in our dead fleshes ability to make us right with God, save us through outward acts of law keeping. We know God has already saved us by the blood of the perfect lamb of God.
For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. Rom 3:20 NLT
We grow when we stop attempting to do the dead work of perfecting our dead flesh by the law. When we stop trying to finish a work that Jesus has already completed. Instead, we believe God that we are already complete, and we recognize ourselves in Christ in the Spirit and no longer by our dead flesh.
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 2 Cor 5:16 NAS
This means we do as Jesus did and do not judge by the dead flesh.
"You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. John 8:15 NAS
As a branch does, we stay hooked up to the vine that gives us life eternal.
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NAS
When we do this, we mature and produce fruit in the faith just like any branch does that abides in a natural vine. We receive revelation upon revelation as we grow up in the faith and understand His righteousness and our place in Him.
In these following verses, think of your dead flesh that was circumcised, cut off by Christ. Your sin was condemned in that flesh, crucified with Christ. These verses are telling us to walk in Christ in the Spirit and not in the dead flesh that cannot please God. When these verses mention the flesh, read it like God sees it, as being dead already.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Rom 8: 1-17 NAS
Walking in the Spirit means we walk by the Spirit of God’s Law and not the letter. The Spirit of all of God’s laws is love and it is the only thing that fulfills God’s law – Rom 13:8-10 and Gal 5:14. We are qualified and called by God to walk by the Spirit that brings life and not the letter that brings death – 2 Cor 3:6. The flesh can only see and walk by the letter. To walk by the Spirit (love) we must walk in the Spirit. I have written many studies on the Spirit of God’s law, love. Therefore, I refer you to those for more study in this area.
Prophecies that the uncircumcised will not enter the Holy city. The dead sinful flesh cannot enter heaven.
Awake, awake, Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; For the uncircumcised and the unclean Will no longer come into you. Isa 52:1 NAS
'Thus says the Lord GOD, "No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the sons of Israel, shall enter My sanctuary. Eze 44:9 NAS
If you are trusting in Christ, your heart and flesh have been circumcised by God. What you see in the mirror, your dead flesh, is not what God see’s, not who you are in Christ in the Spirit. You are still in your flesh, so you can remain in this world as God’s ambassador and testify of Christ, pointing others to salvation. But your dead flesh has been cut off from any inheritance. Sin has been condemned in the flesh. You will receive a new glorified body after the body of death you currently occupy dies. A new body that does not house an inherited Sin nature. A body that will be complete and in perfect sync with your already perfected Spirit. This is when your redemption will be complete. But as far as God is concerned it is a done deal right now.
who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Phil 3:21 NAS
Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant and not a mixture of the two. We are not under grace and law. We are under grace alone. If you want unending revelations in the word of God and everything to make sense, you must stop mixing the two covenants of law and grace. Study the New Covenant exclusively for one year and the veil will be removed from your heart and eyes fully.
But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read… 2 Cor 3:14a NAS
Then you will be able to discern a shadow and the true reality. You will see clearly and walk in the peace Jesus left you. Start with the book of Hebrews which is all about the New Covenant. I have many studies on various aspects of the New Covenant too.More New Covenant Bible Studies that apply:How is the Flesh Crucified?Your Flesh is Dead Christian, Not in SchoolHe is Dead, We Have Got to Drop the Charges
See Yourself as God Does, Stop Doubting, Rest in Him, Walk in Peace
Do You Know the Spirit of All of God's Laws?Walking by the Spirit is Gods Will for Your Life, GuaranteedChristians Are Not Qualified to be Ministers of the Letter of the LawChristians Are Not Under the Law of Moses, Our Standard is Much Higher,Keeping the Letter of Gods Law, Cannot Fulfill Gods LawI Am Holy, I Am Sanctified, I Am PerfectedGod Said a Believer Can Never be Considered UnholyI Am a New Creation IN CHRISTHow Christians Dilute the Power of the Gospel in Their Lives
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20