“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: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
Commentary: In a nutshell…Paul is illustrating here a likening of Christian Salvation to the common Jewish rite of circumcision; however, he is also refuting the need for Jewish circumcision for Salvation. Paul was saying that Salvation through Christ is like a cutting away of the flesh, in that a physical part is not cut away, but the old nature where the man sinned was cut away. This would help the man realize that he does not have to sin anymore to fulfill his own desires, for he is charged now to fulfill God’s Desires, his new life in Christ.
Peter and Paul’s argument: You may know Peter and Paul railed against each other over whether Christians, Messianic Jews or Gentiles, should be physically circumcised. What needed to be straight between them two to finally seal the argument is the line drawn between the Law being fulfilled in Christ, and what requirements believers should have in fulfilling the Law. Peter had been stuck in Jewish school for quite some time; however, Paul was an astute scholar in Jewish culture, rites, and overall religious duties – so much that he was a fundamentalist.
Expanded: In Colossians 2:11, we are circumcised in Christ and are made complete. How this occurred was that Christ first had to accomplish this, to which death had been cut off from Him, ceasing the old order of things. Therefore, He died to sin, and lived to God. He no longer serves sin even though He had no sin but could still be tempted as we saw His annoyances in the wilderness especially, but serves God. Sin no more, God wholehearted. This was His model for us and what He does for us (Romans 6:10).
How does this translate to us… We are saved, death comes in between ourselves and the flesh, which allows us to be separate from the flesh so that it can no longer be served (no more serving of sin). Therefore, we do not serve man or serve this world – we serve God!
Verse 11 talks about death, in other words. Then, in verse 12, this shows burial and resurrection. Burial completes and sanctions death, which means that we are buried in baptism, and then risen in Christ through faith just as God raised Christ from the dead.
Include verse 13 as an end-note, but this is important… We pass from what has been accomplished in Christ to our individual accomplishment, which can only be done by Christ. What shall we say then? Our sins are blotted out by the cross, and the legal system controlling man is no longer in control of us – we are no longer under law, but under grace.
What is interesting is that this is actually a parable that the Jews would understand quite well – as long as they believe in Christ and been saved of course. Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6 tells us that our hearts should be circumcised so that we do not become stiffnecked, but also that we shall love our Lord thy God with all our heart and soul, which brings us life. My tone changes now, when I read from Jeremiah 4:4, but this is vital, because it is a prophecy fulfilled by Jesus and explained well in Romans 6:6 (please read these references if you have the chance). God is giving a prophecy through Jeremiah that people are to circumcise their own hearts to be rid of sin (something only Jesus could do in Salvation, by the way), and if this is not done, God will bring His fury upon them because of their evil. Jesus fulfills this because our old man is crucified with Him and the body of sin is destroyed so we no longer serve sin and no longer are subject to God’s Wrath.
Another insightful piece is that Joshua was Moses’ minister, and Jesus is the minister to the Gentiles. But Jesus is our minister (Romans 15:8). For Joshua in Joshua 5:2-9, where the Israelites are circumcised in Canaan. Joshua is the type for circumcision, and Jesus is the antitype and author of the true circumcision (of Christ)(also see Romans 2:29).
People continue to sin, even though the sinful nature has been separated from them, because of a weakness to specific lusts. First, believers should know that their struggle against sin is common, because we still have memory of our old self being involved in sin, we characterize that as a normal human activity – so the temptation comes along and we feel urged to resolve it by committing to the action associated with the temptation.
However, that needs put away through confession and repentance of sin. Because we are told that we are to not yield our members as instruments of wickedness to sin (which means that Christians must have the ability to do so). People should yield their bodies for use to God for righteousness sake, and in doing this, sin will not have power over us. You see? Sin nature removed from us removes its power over us; therefore, since we no longer serve sin but serve God, we are much less apt to sin.
This is all shaped by not being under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:12-14). We are delivered from sin’s slavery so that we can obey God, not go back to sinning and committing wicked acts (Galatians 5:1). This explains that freedom has a purpose: to breed obedience to God. Freedom of choice has always been ordinance of man. Even if a Christian is found sinning, there is no shame because Jesus put that shame to death, removing the condemnation from us (Romans 8:1). We would lie if we say we did not have sin, which is why Jesus did what He did to reassure us that we are safe from condemnation (1 John 1:8; 2:1).
Other notes: 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 King James Version (KJV) 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire… (See also: Hebrews 11:26-27).