Cut off the flesh, be circumcised in the heart
Watch out for those dogs, those evil doers who mutilate the flesh. For we who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Jesus the Messiah are the ones who are truly circumcised because we put no confidence in the flesh
Here Paul returns to a theme he writes about elsewhere—specifically in Romans 2: 28–29—
…no one is a Jew who is merely one religiously, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the Law and religious observance.
Paul is talking about the spiritual cutting off of the flesh by refusing to follow its desires. He sees circumcision as a radical statement of attitude toward the flesh. Romans 6 says that we kill the flesh in its entirety. It’s pretty heavy for a man to be willing to cut off the end of his penis for his god. But it had become a bigoted, religious thing.
We’re better than you. Look what we are willing to do! That attitude is anathema to Paul. He sees it as a horrible thing that is purely evil.
True circumcision is the cutting off of the flesh in its entirety—no longer obeying its dictates.
We are to be serving God by the Spirit and following the lead of the Spirit instead of the dictates of the flesh.
though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. [NIV]
Paul goes on to say that as far as religious righteousness is concerned, he has it covered better that all of those who are trying to get the Gentiles to become circumcised. He is a Jew’s Jew, one of the Chosen people, righteous and holy according to religious rules. As far as it is possible to have religious status, he meets the requirements better than most anyone.
But whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of the Messiah. More than that, I count all these things as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus the Messiah as my Lord
Here again is one of the reasons why I love Paul. He cuts through all the religious posturing and goes straight for the jugular. Religious credentials are meaningless compared to the worthiness of Jesus.
If you do not know this deep within your gut, you really need an attitude adjustment. One of these days—soon—all of this will be gone and it will be you and Jesus, face to face.
What will not get you into heaven:
- being a member of a church
- having a degree from a seminary or Bible school
- attendance at Bible studies
- spending endless hours in prayer
- reading the Bible through six times a year
The relationship is what matters.
As usual, the key word in this portion of scripture is: knowing. You must know Jesus. This is knowing as a relationship—not knowledge of, but experiential understanding. This is the word, when used as a verb (ginosko), this is used to describe the oneness of a marriage.
This is what Paul considers worth more than anything. Nothing else matters when compared to knowing Jesus. Solomon used to call it vanity. We can call it a distraction. But the things of this world—and that includes religion—do not draw us into closer relationship with the Lord.
Remember Jesus’ words in John 17:3
This is eternal life, knowing you the only true God, and Jesus the Messiah whom you sent
Knowing is used Biblically as in: Abraham knew Sarah, a husband knows his wife. This is talking about the two shall become one: spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy.
Let’s keep it focused, people.
If you do not understand this, you probably need to buy my book on the subject: Knowing Jesus As His Bride
- Spiritual Circumcision Hurts (daileytalks.wordpress.com)
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