The Circumcision of the Heart
Bro. Mike Miller
|Midway Bible Baptist Church Doctrinal
I hope that we come across with the right spirit. I certainly don't feel like I know very much. The older I get, the farther down the road I get, the littler I realize I am. If I've got any enemies, this will really help them. I never went to Bible school, you can tell that right away, but God called me to preach. I'm glad that the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are not hidden in a Bible college, they're hidden in Jesus Christ. I may not have had the approval of certain men, but I've been saved, and I think that qualifies me. It feels good to have men pat you on the back, and say good things about you. The church at home ordained me 20 years ago. A while back I was reading the names of the men that laid hands on me, and signed the certificate. They questioned me, and grilled me, and they would not have ordained me if they thought that I was going to allow my wife to wear britches. I went down through the names and realized that a lot of things have changed in the past 20 years. One of those men went to prison for selling dope. I could only find a couple that stood anywhere near where they stood when they laid hands on me and ordained me. The preacher back home still stands, and he's the only one in that whole list of men, and I appreciate that. It's good to have that approval, but you need God's approval more than you need man's approval.
We're going to deal with the flesh. I want to say a few words before I get started on it. I understand how it's confusing to a lot of people. Just a couple of days ago we heard a man say, "Well, we've got this old flesh, and you know how it's a battle for us. We want to do right, but that old flesh is always there." That's all that everybody has heard. A lot of you have been around long enough that I hope you know better than that, but there may be some that don't. If you listen to any other preachers, you're going to hear that often, so I know that it's confusing. We're not just throwing the flesh out as if it doesn't exist and saying it doesn't matter. That's what they have accused us of. They said, "They're acting like it's not there, they're acting like it's nothing, that they are better, that they've overcome." No, that's not it at all. What we're saying is that they've misidentified it. They're telling you that it's your body, and if you read the whole Bible, it just can't be that way. You can't make it fit in other scriptures. First of all, this body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, isn't that right? "Your body", is what it says. You are to "present your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." So, those scriptures don't fit with mortifying your members, and crucifying the flesh, and doing away with it. It's supposed to be dead, you've got to put all that together and come up with something that's right. No matter what you believe about the flesh, this is going to get you. You can't go around using it for an excuse to sin.
Your body is just the house that you live in. We all know that one of these days we're going to lay this body down, and abandon it. It's the tabernacle, the tent that we live in now. That's all that it is. You can take your hands and do good or evil. You can use your mouth to speak good things, or evil things. It's not the body that's doing it, you're not trapped in a robot that's out of control. Sin is a moral problem, it's a heart problem. It's not the flesh that's doing all that, it's YOU. You are not that body that you are sitting in right now.
Colossians 2:11 "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:"
I hope that you'll be in a spiritual frame of mind with me, and understand rightly what I'm going to say. I'm not going to be crude, so don't think that. Let's pray. Father, again Lord, we come to you tonight, humbly asking that you would be with us, and help us, and that you would just let your Word have free course. I pray that every heart and mind would be open to hear and receive instruction in righteousness. Lord, we can't do it without you. I have these thoughts, that's what I want to get across, but Lord, I just ask that you'd lead and guide, and that you would have your way. Keep me from saying things that would confuse somebody, or that would lead them in a wrong way. Lord, I want to do right, and I want to help somebody, so please help me. In Jesus name, Amen."
Circumcision was the identifying mark that separated God's people from the heathen people and the pagans in the old testament. It was the mark that separated them apart. The first mention of it in the Bible is Genesis 17:10, God said all the males are going to be circumcised. Verse 11, "And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you." We can find all kinds of references down through the Old Testament describing to us what the difference was and how much they made of circumcision.
Genesis 34:14 "And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us:" There was the world, and then there were God's people, it's still that way. The world is one bunch, God's people are another bunch. You're not to be unequally yoked together with them, you're to be separated. It was a mark back then.
Sampson desired a wife from among the uncircumcised. His father told him in Judges 14:3, " Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?"
David said, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?"
They used that as an adjective a lot, didn't they? It identified the lost, the heathen, the one that didn't know or have any part in God, that was the word that described them. They said, "We can't let our sister marry an uncircumcised, it's a reproach to us." It was the mark.
When Saul was wounded in battle, he said to his servant, "I want you to kill me, lest these uncircumcised thrust me through and abuse me." He didn't want the heathens killing him.
In Acts 7:51, Stephen said, " ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears ye do always resist the Holy Ghost as your father's did, so do ye"
Do you know what they understood when he said that? He said, "You bunch of lost heathens that think you're saved, you don't even know God, you're uncircumcised in heart." That's what they understood, because that's what it meant. It always meant that.
It was such an important thing with God that He almost killed Moses over it. It came to pass by the way in the end that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him, why? Because he hadn't circumcised those boys.
God stopped Joshua and the children of Israel after they crossed the Jordan. Why? Circumcision! They had to stop and circumcise all the males before they could enter in to the Promised Land.
Joshua 5:2 - "At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time." He meant the ones that hadn't been circumcised. Somehow that just kind of crept in to the leadership, or wherever, they let that slide, that important thing that God had set down. This is a token between God and them - circumcision, and they would let it slide, even though it was the distinguishing mark between them and the lost world. So, God stopped them.
God means for there to be an identifying mark between His people and those of the world. It was more than a ritual or a tattoo, more than a piece of clothing or something you would wear to identify yourself. Let me remind you, this is something that wasn't there for everybody to see, but yet everybody knew.
Deuteronomy 10:16 - "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked"
The lack of circumcision was always equated with sin and uncleanness, lack of love for God, and being stiff-necked. It wasn't just a ritual, it had spiritual significance then. It wasn't something that God just commanded of those people with them not understanding why. They understood what God meant by it, because the Old Testament is full of it.
Deuteronomy 30:6 - "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thine seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."
Jeremiah 4:4 "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings."
So circumcision was an important thing, and it meant something in the Old Testament besides just a carnal ritual that they went through. Am I getting that across? It's very important that you know they understood that it represented something much more. The Old Testament wasn't a salvation of works either, they had to trust God. It wasn't a salvation of sinning either, not even in the Old Testament.
Circumcision was required in order to eat of the Passover. No uncircumcised was to touch that Passover. You know what our Passover is, don't you? The Circumcision made without hands is the mark of God's people in the New Testament. We find a lot about circumcision in the New Testament. It has everything to do with putting off the body of the sins of the flesh - that's the first verse I read in Colossians 2. That's what it's about. It's the cutting off of the flesh.
People say, "I've got this old flesh, it just torments me to death, I can't deal with it. It just gets the best of me, and no matter what I do, or how hard I try, I can't do right because of my flesh." They are people uncircumcised in heart, or else they are very confused and don't understand anything.
In the Old Testament, He said it was a token. He stressed and demanded it. He threatened to kill Moses over it, He stopped Joshua, and the children of Israel in their tracks after they had, by faith, crossed the Jordan River. They had everything down pretty well, except for that. Somehow they had let that slide. Joshua and Moses were good men, but God wasn't going to let it slide. So you can have all the preachers you want that will comfort you, and make excuses for you, but God isn't going to let it slide.
Romans 2:25-28 - "For circumcision verily profited, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision do transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly: neither is that curcumcision ,which is outward in the flesh."
Circumcision is of the heart. (v.29) "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."
Before you were saved, you walked after the flesh. That's what led you and that is what ruined your life. You lived to fulfill the desires of the flesh and that's all you lived for. But after you are saved there's supposed to be a circumcision of the heart, the flesh is cut off. There's a separation there. When you cut it off, that's it, it's done. I believe that's what the Bible says.
The issue then, is walking after the flesh, or walking after the Spirit of God. It's keeping the commandments of God, or being a habitual, practicing sinner. Circumcised or uncircumcised. That's the token of the covenant between God and His people. There is no need for the Old Testament ritual of circumcision physically. There's no need for the Old Testament sacrifices and offerings. It's something that happens in your heart when you get saved.
Galatians 6:15 "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."
It's not a work that we do. We don't live by rulebooks, and letters of the law, that's not how we live as New Testament Christians. We are a new creature, the Spirit of God lives in us and leads us. He is our life - our life is hid in Him. We get our direction from the Spirit of God that is in us, we don't look to rule books. Now, a lot of denominations try to do that. They say things such as, "If you're going to be a part of our denomination you have to wear a head covering, or you have to do this or that." I've even heard churches say that if you're going to be a part of their church, you've got to wear suspenders or a belt, and they'll get in a big fuss over it. That's what they count as holiness, but holiness doesn't consist of that stuff, it's a heart matter. It's not the old man, reworked, remade, all fixed up pretty, retrained, and taught to do right. The old man is cut off! He's dead!
I Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
The Russelites believe that the world is going to be here forever. We don't believe that because the Bible doesn't teach that. Heaven and earth are going to pass away. He's going to create a new Heaven and a new earth. Your road maps won't work anymore, it's going to be a new earth, and a new Heaven, and when you're saved, it's a new creation, it's a new creature. It's not the old man who turned over a new leaf, and learned not to cuss, drink or be immoral. That's not what it is at all, it's a new creature! A new birth! A new life! The old man is cut off! Circumcision is cutting off of the flesh. In the New Testament, it's the putting off of the sins of the flesh. You think it isn't easy? When Joshua said, "Boys, guess what God just told me that we've got to do " how many do you think jumped up and said, "Yea! I'm ready! Me first!?" I don't think that's the way it was. They were probably running, hiding and saying, "Oh, no!"
That's what happens in church when you preach against sin and the flesh. People think you're preaching something they can't do, it would cost too much and hurt too bad. They say, "I can't, I could never do that, I could never give that up!"
It's extremely painful and humiliating. At the time it seems that it's caused terrible damage. It looks so bad and so traumatic that it raises doubts of whether it was the right thing to do or not. Do you remember when you got saved and how things happened? I remember, I thought everybody would just love me and be tickled to death, and boy was I in for a rude awakening. I didn't think it was going to be like it was, and naturally the thoughts go through your mind, "What have I done here, have I really messed things up?" But in your heart you know, this is right. After everything had healed up, and God said, "Go," and they headed for Jericho, they were glad they did it. They were glad they obeyed God. They were glad to wear the token of their covenant between them and God. They said, "Let the Philistines, these heathens in this land make fun of us all they want to, we don't care. We know God is with us!" Go ahead and let your relatives make fun of you, let people mock you and call you names, because you believe that there is victory over sin, and that the Gospel means something and that it has power. Let them mock. They weren't mocking when the walls of Jericho fell down. They said, "Here's these circumcised boys," but they had somebody on their side that didn't care much for those uncircumcised heathens. It's amazing that the first one they ran into in that town was a harlot. That tells you that it wasn't a very nice place. If you drove into a place and the first person you met was a harlot, you would kind of have a bad opinion of that town wouldn't you? They lived after the flesh.
I John 3:7-9 - "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that commiteth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doeth not commit sin;"
This verse has got to trouble some people. They say it's the new inner man, but the old man is going to go ahead and sin, they say this is talking about two people here. I'm just one person, you're just one person. You are going to stand before God, and give an account of the deeds done in your body. He's not going separate you out and say, "Let's figure out which one is the guilty one here." Don't think you're going to get out of it. You are guilty. "Whosever is born of God doeth not commit sin;" He doesn't live in habitual sin. No matter how many times we deny it, they will still say we're preaching sinless perfection. Well, no we're not, I said, "he does not habitually live in sin." " for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin." He just keeps hammering it down farther, doesn't He? " because he is born of God." He's a child of God, he's not a carnal Christian, he's a spiritual person. He is led by the Spirit, he is filled with the Spirit of God. God is in him of a truth and leads him. His flesh doesn't lead him.
Does that mean he can't ever be tempted? Of course not! The Lord was tempted when He walked this earth. If He hadn't been, then he couldn't have been our perfect high priest. The Bible says if you deny that he came in the flesh, then you're an anti-Christ. He was in the flesh, but He was filled with the Spirit of God, and He overcame. Because He did, we can, because we've got everything going for us that He had going for Him. We sure do. If we don't then we're in big trouble, there is no hope for us and they are all right. If He did overcome sin with his God power, then we don't have a chance, because we don't have that. But we've got the Holy Spirit of God living in us. He sent the Holy Spirit to us to guide us into truth and to lead us, and he said he would always lead us to Jesus. (v.10) "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil:" That's how you can tell the difference, the children of the devil live in sin, the children of God, don't.
" whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." (v.11) "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."
That's where I have problems with people. About a year ago, I had a missionary acquaintance that committed adultery and left his wife and family. I talked to a preacher about it and he said, "Well, I'm not going to say he's not saved " Read verse 10 again, that's how you know the difference. We're a year and a half down the road, the guy has never gone back to his wife, he's still living in adultery and there are still people who say, "we can't say he's not saved." They're ignorant of the Word of God. They shouldn't have gone to Bible college if that's what they learned there.
The Israelites could not eat of the Passover until they were circumcised. Exodus 12:48 "And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof."
Now here's a New Testament verse, 1 Corinthians 5:7 - "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:"
Do you understand what that is saying? That means that if you are uncircumcised in heart, if the flesh is still in control of you, you cannot be a partaker of Christ. Is that hard too understand and see? God said they couldn't eat of the Passover if they weren't circumcised, do you believe God is consistent all through His Word? Circumcision then meant of the heart. They did it outwardly, but it still signified what went on in the heart. I gave you three verses that said that. And in the New Testament, you're not going to be a partaker of our Passover unless you do something with the flesh. You don't come to the altar, make a profession, then go back and walk after the flesh and say you're saved. You are deceived. You have lied to yourself. It doesn't happen that way - not according to the Bible. You can have no part with Christ, unless the flesh is cut off and has no more control of your life.
Romans 13:14 - "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lust thereof."
I'd like to know how you could defend the flesh, and take up for it after these few verses that I've given you. And there are many more, I could read more verses on the flesh and how it's supposed to be put away, and crucified. It has no part in ruling our life after we're saved.