without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by
the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11).
Circumcision in the OT was a physical, outward act. The sinful flesh of the foreskin through which a man’s seed passed and by which children were conceived, was cut off. That physical act was designed by God as a typical figure of true circumcision. It signified a spiritual fulfillment.
It is clear from Colossians 2:11 that there are two ways in which this type is fulfilled. First, in this scripture, Christ is said to have been circumcised: “...by the circumcision of Christ.” Second, in this same scripture, the believer is said to be circumcised. “Ye are circumcised.” Christ is Abraham’s Seed. Christ would be born to him. Abraham’s foreskin was cut off. Christ would be cut off. Why?
Circumcision cuts off sinful flesh. Moses said, “I am a man of uncircumcised lips” (Ex. 6:12). Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). These men understood and confessed that their sin needed to be cut off. This cutting off of sinful flesh as it relates to Christ is how we are saved. God imputed the sins of God’s elect to Christ. Christ was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). As Abraham’s foreskin was cut off in circumcision, Abraham’s sins were cut off in Christ’s death. Abraham was one of Christ’s people. All who believe Christ as Abraham did, are those whose sins were removed in Christ’s death. They are Abraham’s true seed (Gal. 3:29). Like Abraham, they believe Christ. Like Abraham, their sins were cut off in the circumcision of Christ, in His death on the cross. Our sins were made Christ’s and cut off by God in Christ’s death. Christ, Abraham’s Seed, was crucified by the will of God (Heb. 10:5-14). Our sins were made Christ’s and removed from us by the will of God (Psalm 103:12; Lev. 16:21-22). Christ’s circumcision and our justification in Him was accomplished outside of our own personal experience. God did the work in Christ before we were born. This makes any contribution to our salvation by us impossible. When Christ, by Himself, offered Himself to God for our sins, our sins were removed from before God’s face. They were blotted out of God’s accounting, forever remitted (Isaiah 43:25; Heb. 1:3; 7:27; 9:14, 26, 28; Heb. 10:14-18; Rom. 8:32-34).
Because our sins were removed before God’s face when Christ died on the cross (Heb. 1:3; Lev. 16:30), the Spirit of God applies that circumcision to our hearts in the time-experience of our lives. The Spirit of God applies the work of Christ to our hearts when He gives us faith in Christ as our sin-atoning Savior and risen Lord. The application of Christ’s blood to us by the Spirit of God is our own personal, spiritual circumcision. This is an inward work (Rom. 2:28-29; Php. 3:3). It is a work we cannot perform (Deut. 30:6). It is the operation of the Spirit of God (Col. 2:11-12). The result of that work is that the law of God is fulfilled in us. How is the law fulfilled in us? The law is fulfilled when we are rewarded life for Christ’s righteousness that God put to our account. Where sin once reigned
to death, grace now reigns over us through Christ’s righteousness unto our eternal life (Rom. 5:21). The law is fulfilled in us when by the Spirit of God we are given everlasting life because of the righteousness of Christ. The Spirit of Christ gives us life when He gives us faith in Christ our Savior (John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6). Then we see and rely on what God has done for us in Christ (John 3:14-15). By the life and grace of the Spirit of God in us, we live by faith upon Christ who died for us. This is proof that the law of God was fulfilled for us in the life and death of Christ (Rom. 8:1-4). It is by this proof of life by Christ that the law is fulfilled in us. This faith is proof that we were justified in the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 5:9; 4:25).
We receive this faith through hearing the Gospel applied to us. The Gospel applied to us is “The spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” The justification Christ accomplished and obtained for us at the cross is declared to us and received by us when God gives us a life look to Christ as our suffering, curse-bearing Substitute (John 3:14-15). This faith is the evidence of our birth by the Spirit of God as the sons of God the Father (1 Pet. 1:23; James 1:18). When it pleases God, He reveals His Son in us (Gal. 1:15-16; Gal. 3:13-14; 4:1-6; Eph. 1:13). We call upon Christ in the cry of faith. This faith is the inward circumcision of our hearts. Our inward circumcision enables us to see and trust and receive our justification before God in the circumcision of Christ’s death.
God chose us to salvation in Christ before time (2 Thess. 2:13). During Christ’s history on this earth, by His one offering of Himself, He redeemed and sanctified and perfected us (1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:12; 10:10, 14). This is our circumcision in the death of Christ. Our sins were cut off in His death. In our lifetime, He sanctifies us by the operation of the Spirit of God through hearing the Gospel of our salvation (2 Thess. 2:13-14). By His grace we are enabled to believe Christ. If we believe Christ, we have been raised from death to life. We have been born of God. We have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands. Our conscience has been sprinkled by the redeeming blood of Christ, our Redeemer (Heb. 9:12-15).
Thus it is that OT circumcision is fulfilled. We are the true circumcision, “which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ
Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Php. 3:3). The result of circumcision in our hearts is true worship of God by the Spirit of God who lives in us. It is true joy in Christ’s redeeming work for us. It is abandoning all confidence in self and finding all confidence in Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20). May God so circumcise our hearts and minds to know Him and love Him and worship Him in Christ.