I’ve written many times about the fact that in Christ/Spirit, we have died and risen into new life. In Colossians 2:11-13 (ESV), Paul uses the illustration of physical circumcision to make this same point:
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…”
There are several important things Paul states about this spiritual circumcision. First, it only exists “in him,” meaning in Christ/Spirit. It’s not something that is seen in the physical body or felt with physical senses. Second, it was done “without hands,” meaning that man had no part in it and cannot alter it. Third, this circumcision didn’t cut off a foreskin, but the entire “body of the flesh.” By doing this, God did what man couldn’t (and still can’t) – end the flesh. As God sees, in the Spirit, EVERYTHING which has been birthed from the “seed” of man is condemned, dead, taken away. Fourth, Paul says God did this while men were dead in trespasses and (spiritual) uncircumcision. We didn’t “earn” this, it was done in God’s timing and by His decision. Paul says by cutting off the flesh, God was forgiving all trespasses and uniting men with Christ, making them alive TOGETHER with him. Needless to say, a radical change has taken place! This change, for those with eyes to see, is not in the physical world, and not in the darkness within or outside of us. Those things remain dead. This change is in the Spirit, which then alters our perception of and relationship to everything, and which ultimately will consume all that is not in accordance with it!
In a recent post, I mentioned some questions I wanted to address in light of these things. Here are a few of these:
1. How should we relate to other people?
-I agree with Paul, who in 2 Corinthians 5:16 wrote believers are to “know no man after the flesh.” Knowing that in the light of the new covenant, all flesh has been cut off and put away, and all men reconciled to God, we will not relate to people (positively or negatively) based off what is dead and cut off. It’s unnatural and often very difficult to walk this way, but I think the term for it is LOVE. For example, In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul wrote: “…the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded (recognized) this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died…” In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul also famously wrote that love keeps no record of wrongs, is longsuffering and kind and never quits. I believe this is because love is based on the eternal, accomplished fact that Christ died for all, as all, reconciling all men to God, who is no longer counting sins against anyone.
2. What should our relationship be to the world? (I define “world” not as planet earth, but as the systems and values that have been founded and established by man on the earth).
Again, scripture answers this quite clearly:
“…the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” -Galatians 6:14
“…all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” -1 John 2:16-17 ESV