WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE NEED CIRCUMCISION?
Verse 12 says, "And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed." Who needs to be circumcised? Two kinds of people need circumcision: those who are born in the house and those bought with money. Whether born or bought, all have to be circumcised. Thank and praise God that we were both born of God and bought by God. We were not only bought by God, but also born of God.
First Peter 1:18 and 19 say, "Knowing that it was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold...but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ." First Corinthians 6:20 says, "For you have been bought with a price." This tells us that we were bought by God.
John 3:6 says, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit," and 1 John 3:9 says, "Everyone who has been begotten of God..." These verses tells us that we are born of God.
We thank and praise God that although He did not make a covenant with us Gentiles, we all have the possibility of being circumcised. Exodus 12:48 says, "And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land." This tells us that a stranger can also be circumcised. Today, if there is anyone here who has not believed in the Lord, if you are willing to be circumcised, you can be the same as the people of God.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CIRCUMCISION
The significance of circumcision is to put off the lust of the flesh. No one can serve God by the flesh. The Lord said that the flesh profits nothing (John 6:63). Romans 8:7 says that the flesh is enmity against God. If we want to serve God, have a share of the covenant, and do the works of God, we must put off the flesh.
What is the meaning of the flesh? The flesh is what man has by his birth, what man has originally before he believes in the Lord. Whether it is good or bad, the flesh has to be circumcised because it is not subject to God, neither can it be. Even if the flesh does good, it still cannot please God. If we, who have believed in the Lord, want to please God, we have to be circumcised in the heart. The descendants of Abraham were circumcised in the body; we need to be circumcised in the heart. Being circumcised in the heart is not only found in the New Testament; it is found in the Old Testament as well.
Jeremiah 4:4 says, "Circumcise yourselves to Jehovah, / And remove the foreskins of your heart." A filthy heart cannot see God. Brothers and sisters, let me ask you a most straightforward question: Are all your hearts clean and without any filthiness? Many people have pride, jealousy, and filthiness in their heart. Without cutting these off, they cannot see God. Someone with an unclean heart cannot see God. An unholy one cannot see God. Perhaps your outward behavior is quite good. Yet inwardly, you love the world, and in your heart you commit the sins which the immoral commit. Are you inwardly envious of others’ houses, cattle, servants, or wives? If these are not put off from your heart, you cannot participate in God’s covenant.
Jeremiah 9:25-26 says, "Behold, days are coming, declares Jehovah, when I will punish all those who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised...for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart." All the nations are uncircumcised in their bodies. All those of the house of Israel are circumcised in their bodies, but uncircumcised in their hearts. These people will be cut off by God. Today we do not care for a circumcision in the past. We are concerned about are our hearts. Brothers and sisters, our hearts are most difficult to overcome. Outwardly we can deceive others, but inwardly we are rotten. The uncircumcised in heart cannot draw near to God. Today it is not a matter of how we are outwardly, but of how we are inwardly.
Deuteronomy 10:16 says, "Circumcise then the foreskin of your heart." The meaning here is to remove the filth of your heart.
Deuteronomy 30:6 says, "And Jehovah your God will circumcise your heart." This means the same as the foregoing verse, that is, to cut off the filth of the heart.
The foregoing verses of the Old Testament lay considerable stress on the circumcision of the heart. There is even more emphasis in the New Testament. Romans 2:28 and 29 are most apparent. They clearly tell us that circumcision is not outward in the flesh but inward of the heart. It is not in the letter but in the spirit. What God spoke to Abraham was only the circumcision of the flesh. Today God has gone a step further. Now all must be circumcised in the heart. Whoever is uncircumcised in the heart cannot participate in the covenant of Abraham. The apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians to show us that we have a share in the covenant of Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham was prior to the law. What we receive came before the law. If any pride or envy is in our hearts and if they are not put off, we have no share in the covenant of Abraham. Instead, we will be cut off.
When we talk about the meaning of circumcision, if we just stop here, we are preaching the law and not the gospel. Thank and praise God that we have the gospel; we have a way to put off the lust of our heart.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 08: The Present Testimony (1), Chapter 39, by Watchman Nee)