In verses 25-29 we have the fallacy of ritual without reality. The function of Israel as the priest nation raises questions regarding circumcision and true Israel.
Circumcision was established as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. (Genesis 17:1-14) Circumcision was a physical operation on the Jewish male representing a spiritual principle. This principle was a ritual that emphasized the sanctification of the Jewish nation as a part of God’s plan. The ritual, as it began in Genesis 17, was designed to set apart the Jewish nation of Israel as God’s representatives. Abraham was circumcised after his salvation and after receiving the covenant. It was on receiving the Abrahamic Covenant that the right of circumcision was administered for the first time.
Literal circumcision represented to the Jews their responsibility before the Lord to maintain and to disseminate Bible doctrine and the principles of divine establishment. Moses had ignored this principle with regard to his own children and almost died the sin unto death for his failure to have his youngest son circumcised. (Exodus 4:24-26) Circumcision was recognition of the role of Israel under God’s grace and therefore it had great significance. Therefore, circumcision was of great importance in orienting to the grace of God. No male Jew or male non-Jew could partake of the Passover without circumcision, but all of Israel (male and female) were commanded to celebrate the Passover. (Exodus 12:47-48) The Jews were placed under the fifth cycle of discipline for lack of “circumcision of the soul” that was to accompany this ritual. (Jeremiah 6:10; 9:25-26) So the ritual of circumcision had both physical and spiritual connotation. From its inception we see the spiritual connotation in the physical act. The physical significance of the ritual of circumcision was the recognition that Israel would be blessed by God.
The ritual of circumcision has no significance in the Church Age. (1 Corinthians 7:18-19; Galatians 5:2-3) Circumcision early in the Church Age became a rallying point for legalism. (Acts 15:1, 24; Galatians 6:12-13) Circumcision was used originally to designate the Jews by their race and by their nation. (Galatians 2:8; Colossians 4:11; Ephesians 2:11; Titus 1:10) Under this phraseology the Jews are often called “the circumcision.”
Circumcision was used to portray retroactive positional truth. Retroactive positional truth is identification with Christ in His two deaths and burial through the mechanics of the baptism of the Spirit. Identification with Christ in His death includes both His spiritual death and physical death. The spiritual death of Christ on the Cross is related to the judicial imputation of all personal sins, which is the basis for salvation. This is efficacious (effective) substitutionary atonement. However, the emphasis in retroactive positional truth is on what was not imputed to Christ on the Cross: our human good and evil. In the spiritual death of Christ, both human good and evil were rejected from judgment by the justice of God. They were also separated from Christ’s efficacious sacrifice. Being identified with Christ, we have positionally rejected and been separated from human good and evil. (Colossians 2:11)
Remember, there are two categories of positional truth. We are identified with Christ in His death. At the point of salvation we are entered into union with Christ as He died on the Cross. Bearing our sins and taking our place He rejected human good. Human good is outside of the plan of the work of Christ on the Cross. He rejected human good. Human good, therefore, is equivalent to the part removed in circumcision. Human good is dead and circumcision is dead.
We are also identified with Christ as He is seated at the right hand of the Father. This is current positional truth. Circumcision relates to retroactive positional truth. Therefore, in portraying retroactive positional truth, the ritual of circumcision removes that which is unnecessary, useless. The removal of the unnecessary, useless portrays what is not necessary in the Christian life. Therefore, the spiritual significance of circumcision comes into focus. Today we have a “spiritual circumcision” whereby grace eliminates legalism (what is useless). Grace eliminates the talent of man, the ability of man, the energy of man and the plans of man.
Lack of circumcision is used to portray scar tissue, emotional revolt and reversionism. (Jeremiah 6:10; 9:25-26; Ezekiel 44:7; Acts 7:51) Circumcision is also used to portray the intake and application of Bible doctrine. (Deuteronomy 10:16 and Jeremiah 4:4) Circumcision again is used to portray the edification complex of the soul. (Deuteronomy 30:6; Romans 2:28:29: Philippians 3:3)
For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law is the Greek word “peritome” for circumcision, which means to cut around. The first man to be circumcised was Abraham who had maximum doctrine resident in his soul. It was not so much the outward circumcision that was significant, it was the doctrine related to it. When you remove the doctrine and leave the ritual you lose the meaning. It is the doctrine that counts, not the ritual by itself. Abraham had a son, Ishmael, who was also circumcised, but Ishmael was minus doctrine, therefore circumcision had no meaning. He was a trouble-maker all of his life with the exception of some moments of great blessing, which were blessings by association with his father.
The Greek word for value is “opheleo,” which means advantage, to help, to aid, to benefit or to be beneficial. So, on the one hand, circumcision is beneficial. The present tense of practice, which is the Greek word “prasso” denotes what habitually occurs when there is maximum doctrine resident in the soul or where maturity adjustment to the justice of God exists. Obviously circumcision was beneficial to any Jew who had the same amount of doctrine in his soul that Abraham had when he was circumcised. The problem with the Jews was that God’s command was to be circumcised on the eighth day, when a child obviously has no doctrine. So circumcision was a reminder to him where he should be headed with regard to his relationship with God. Even though the Jews had the genes of Abraham in their bodies, they must have the doctrine of Abraham in their soul in order to advance spiritually.
But if you are a transgressor of the Law is the Greek word “parabates,” which means violator or breaker. The self-righteous unbeliever is producing the action. The Greek noun “nomos” refers to the Mosaic Law being abused, distorted and misused by arrogant, self-righteous Jews trying to use it as a vehicle of salvation rather than realizing that it was a vehicle of condemnation. Circumcision is related to the believer who is adjusted to the justice of God. It is a ritual without reality for unbelievers.
Your circumcision has become uncircumcision is the same Greek word as above for circumcision, “peritome.” All Jews were supposed to be circumcised on the eighth day, which was the ritual that anticipated the reality. The anticipation was not always fulfilled. Some Jews believed in the Lord and some did not. Distortion of the law into a system of legalism and self-righteousness destroyed the significance of the ritual it portrayed.
Uncircumcised is the Greek word “akrobustia,” which means to be in a state of never being circumcised. The new race’s ritual was circumcision, a sign of Abraham’s maximum adjustment to the justice of God. This blessing which came from his maturity adjustment to the justice of God, or maximum doctrine resident in the soul, was a part of the promise that Abraham would have a son from his own loins, and from this son would come a new race which would be the means of bringing the Messiah into the world (the Jewish race).
Where maladjustment to the justice of God is concerned the spiritual connotation of ritual circumcision is erased and the status of the Jew involved is “uncircumcised of heart” and/or maladjusted to the justice of God. Therefore there is no reality in ritual. The reality always lies in the doctrine that makes the ritual meaningful. The doctrine must be in the soul for the ritual to become meaningful. Neither the ritual of circumcision nor the function of keeping the Law can provide salvation.