The Circumcised Life
A daily devotion for June 13th
9 Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
15 God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"
19 Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day. 27 And every male in Abraham's household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.
This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised (Genesis 17:10).
What a strange thing this is, literally carving in the flesh the sign of God's lordship! This is the great sign of the Jews, intended by God to be the mark of His possession, that they were God's instrument to use as a blessing among the nations. It was placed upon this particular part of the body to indicate that they were to be physically separate from the other nations. The very organ by which that separation could be violated bore upon it the mark of God's ownership. As we read the course of Jewish history, we see how this mark, intended to be the sign of humility and instrumentality, became perverted into a mark of superiority and favoritism. Those who bore it began to look on others as
Gentile dogs and to be self-righteous and proud over their supposed favored position before God. Thus the spirit of anti-Semitism that troubles the world so today was born of the spirit of anti-Gentilism that preceded it. This does not justify either, of course.
Now let us remember that what was physical and literal to Abraham is intended to have spiritual significance to us. In the New Testament, we no longer read of circumcision of the flesh but of the heart. The heart is the symbol of the soul—the mind, emotions, and will, the whole personality. All believers in Christ are to bear on their hearts the sign of Christ's lordship. The total personality is to be at their disposal.
This is the meaning of heart circumcision: Believers' hearts are totally Christ's to use as He wills—all their emotions, mind, intellect, and will are dedicated and available, ready at the command of Jesus Christ to be used for His purposes. Paul says to the Philippians,
We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3 KJV). We are to have no reliance upon ourselves but rely totally upon Him. Every thought, every imagination, is brought into captivity to Christ. That is the circumcised life.
Walk therefore before me, and be wholehearted, blameless. That will be a life of fruitfulness and blessing, a life that is well pleasing to God, for it all springs from the realization that the God who lives within is El Shaddai, the God who is sufficient.
Father, it is quite possible for me to give the impression that I am totally Yours, yet to be quite false to that ideal. Help me to discover the glory of the circumcised life.
Life Application: As Christ's ones we are meant to authentically bear the sign of His lordship in our total personality. Are we thinking and responding as though Jesus is alive in us?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.