Sunday, May 15, 2022

We are the Circumcision

In what sense is this true?

The apostle Paul, who made the above claim in Philippians 3:3, knew that circumcision was given as a sign of the covenant between Abraham, his descendants and God. Every male’s foreskin had to come under the knife and that part of the flesh be discarded. It was a gender thing, only a minor operation, but it came to be a source of great pride in Israel and being uncircumcised a contemptuous way of describing God’s enemies and theirs.

When Paul wrote to the saints at Philippi he warned them to beware of dogs. He was not thinking of domesticated pets but fierce curs that roamed the streets looking for anything to satisfy their appetites. If this was the first of three epithets referring to the same persons, they were also evil workers who, by teaching that it was necessary for everyone who professed faith in Christ to be circumcised in the literal sense required in the Old Testament, were adding to the gospel. He calls them mutilators or cutters.

So if by saying “we are the circumcision” he is not referring to something true of us in a literal sense, he must be using the term metaphorically. I find myself asking: is there any way in which our worship of God can be hindered by a failure to use the knife on anything that comes to us in a natural way; not something sinful in itself?

Take the matter of our birth. We may not go so far as to say, “I thank God I am not as other men are” but we are grateful for the fact that we belong to this superior tribe. I sensed this sort of pride when serving the Lord in East Africa. I have sensed the same kind of boasting crouching like a lion in my own heart. I believe it even affects the enjoyment of fellowship among some highly regarded servants of the Lord in this part of the world.

When drawing near to God privately or in the company of others it will be much easier if we glory in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.

— Colin Anderson, March 2018

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