Off With the Old
Read Colossians 2:11 (ESV)
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
What does it mean to “put off” the “body of flesh”?
In our time, the concept of circumcision can be a bit lost on us. Why did God ask them to do this? What was the purpose of it? Did it have to be so graphic? And what in the world does “the circumcision of Christ” mean?
To understand this, we have to go back to the beginning of God’s covenant people. We have to go all the way back to Father Abraham. In Genesis 17, God promised that Abraham would be the father of a great nation and that He would be their God. Abraham’s descendants were to be set apart from the evil pagan nations that surrounded them. They were to follow and obey God.
But ever since Adam’s original sin, everyone has been conceived in sin. If sin is not “cut off,” there can be no relationship with God. Circumcision symbolized the need to cut off sin in order to be cleansed. Cutting away the foreskin on all of the males in Abraham’s household and all of his descendants thereafter was a sign of the covenant God made with them. Circumcision marked them as His people. They were to cut sin out from among them by following God’s commands and seeking holiness as He is holy.
The problem was, they didn’t uphold their end of the bargain. In fact, they couldn’t. They repeatedly sinned. The outward, physical sign of circumcision couldn’t accomplish anything spiritual. That’s why God warned His people, numerous times, to turn from their sins and circumcise their hearts. In Deuteronomy 10:16, Moses commanded the Israelites to: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”
We need a circumcision of the heart to save us and in today’s verse, Paul says that is exactly what Jesus did for us. If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we have been circumcised. Not physically, of course, but spiritually. Not externally, but internally. In Christ, our hearts are transformed, not our bodies. In Christ, we are finally able to cut the sin from our lives once and for all because we are made new.
This is what Paul meant when he wrote “putting off the body of the flesh.” As believers in Jesus Christ, we no longer have to submit to the influence of the flesh. We can put off our old selves and put on our new selves. Paul also wrote about this in Ephesians 4:22-24: “...put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Friends, Jesus performed a spiritual operation that has set us free from sin. He cut out our evil flesh and renewed us in spirit. But every day we have a choice to make—are we going to put on our new selves and live for Christ? Or will we continue to live enslaved to our sinful flesh? I don’t know about you, but I say, “Off with the old and on with the new!”
Jesus, thank You for setting me free from my old self. Thank You for cutting away the sinful, evil desires of my heart and making me new. Give me the strength to daily put off the old self who once lived by the flesh so that I can put on my new self and live by Your Spirit. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
If you found value in this post, please share your comments, questions, and prayers with us!Discipleship Tip: Sharing is discipleship. Invite a friend to join you each day for a morning coffee and conversation about God. Click the sharing button below to get the conversation started.