The True Circumcision
Updated: Mar 28
This Week's Scripture & Reflection: Philippians 3:2-3
Many individuals adorn themselves with symbols of Christianity, such as necklaces and chains with crosses and t-shirts and hoodies with "JESUS" imprinted on them in large, bold letters. And while these external symbols of Christianity are great and can even be used to evangelize to nonbelievers, the symbols in and of themselves do not necessarily indicate that true divine transformation has taken place within a certain individual.
Throughout Biblical history, the Jews took immense pride in the universal symbol of their lineage: circumcision. Circumcision was an Old Testament (OT) practice performed by the nation of Israel under obligation to the OT Law (cf. Lev. 12:3) and originally commanded by God to Abraham and all of Israel's male descendants as a sign of the covenant between Abraham and Himself (cf. Gen. 17:1-12). The Jews considered anyone who was physically uncircumcised to be unclean, particularly the Gentiles (non-Jews), whom the Jews would derogatorily call "dogs".
In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul cleverly uses the legalistic Jews' derogatory term against them by calling them "dogs", as well as "evil workers" and the "false circumcision". These Jewish legalists, also known as the Judaizers, falsely claimed that physical circumcision was necessary for salvation. What they did not realize was that true circumcision is a matter of the heart, not the flesh (cf. Rom. 2:29). The true circumcision comprises the true believers and followers of Jesus Christ, those whose hearts have been circumcised through the work of the Holy Spirit permanently dwelling within them. Members of the true circumcision worship in the Spirit of God, boast in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence in their flesh (cf. Phil. 3:3), as the Judaizers did.
Know that the faith you possess as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ is not encapsulated within a mere physical sign. Though it is externally demonstrated through obedience to God and good works done in love and service to others, its origin is a heart that has been supernaturally circumcised by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are the true circumcision.