Circumcised, Buried & Risen
1. The apostle Paul writes to the Colossian believers to warn them about the false teachers… the Gnostic like cult that invaded their region.
2. This cult was teaching a strange mixture of pagan philosophy and asceticism (touch not; taste not; handle not) and Jewish tradition and rituals (circumcision; holy days; dietary laws; etc.)
3. The cult was attempting to teach believers that they were LACKING something and needed something MORE to be whole… to be complete… to be able to walk with God in holiness.
4. Paul counters their teaching by letting the believers know that having Christ, they lacked NOTHING! In Christ dwells all the FULLNESS of the Godhead bodily, and we are complete in Christ!
5. And not only so, they were already ABLE to walk in newness of life.
6. Col. 2:6 – Paul is teaching the Colossians (and us!) HOW to walk.
7. They didn’t need anything new (new revelation; new experience; rituals; holy days; meats and drinks).
8. They were already complete in Christ.
9. What they needed was a deeper understanding of the cross… and what GOD DID in and to them the moment they were saved.
10. This is OUR greatest need today too: to understand, appreciate, and appropriate by faith—the marvelous accomplishments of Christ on the cross… that which is already ours in Him: our position, blessings, and privileges in Christ!
Circumcised In Christ
1. Review of the Context.
a. Verse 12 needs to be understood in its context… and is linked theologically to vs. 11.
b. In vs. 11, Paul states that because we are In Christ, we were circumcised with His circumcision: spiritual circumcision.
c. Circumcision is a cutting off of the flesh—and the physical ritual had a spiritual significance.
• The circumcision of Abraham and Moses is contrasted to the circumcision of Christ.
• The Old Covenant Mosaic Law required physical circumcision—but it could neither save nor sanctify. It was but a shadow.
• The New Covenant provided a BETTER sacrifice (Christ) and thus provided a better circumcision: a spiritual, internal circumcision of the heart!
• It spoke of a spiritual “surgery” God does in the heart of the believer.
• It spoke of the cutting off of the bondage that the sin nature once held over our physical bodies.
• Our old man (the man IN Adam, the person we were before salvation; the unregenerate you) was characterized by slavery to sin (the sin nature).
• That old man [characterized by slavery to his sinful, fleshly nature] was “cut off.”
• That’s what GOD did the moment we were saved: whether we know it or not; understand its significance or not; whether we even believe it or not!
• Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty!
2. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
a. Vs. 12 – Paul mentions burial and resurrection, but he does NOT mention death.
b. Why? Because he used another illustration of Christ’s death: circumcision.
c. Christ’s circumcision is related to His crucifixion…
• Circumcision and crucifixion were two different terms for His death…
• Isa. 53:8 – He was cut off out of the land of the living… speaking of the death of Christ in the language of a circumcision.
• To be cut off was a common expression for death.
• The circumcision of Christ speaks of the death of Christ… and in particular the RESULTS of that death.
d. Paul is going to teach the Colossians the same truth that he taught the Romans in Romans six: HOW to walk in newness of life.
• However, there are a couple of differences.
• In Romans six, Paul speaks of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
• In Colossians (who were being attacked by men attempting to impose Jewish rituals upon them), Paul chose to substitute “circumcision” for death… using it as a virtual synonym for death. In Colossians Paul speaks of the circumcision, burial, and resurrection.
• Another difference is that Romans six is a much lengthier exposition of the theme. It is considerably shorter in Colossians. This is the Cliff Notes version… the Readers’ Digest version of Romans six.
• Understanding the message of Romans six will help us to grasp the message of this section in Colossians.
3. The spiritual circumcision of Christ puts off the body of the flesh. (Col. 2:11)
a. The flesh = the old, sinful self-life.
• It is the equivalent of the old man seen as being under the dominion of his flesh… his sinful human nature… a slave to sin.
b. The body = The physical body.
• Hence, Paul is saying that spiritual circumcision cuts off or severs or separates the physical body from the bondage to the fleshly nature that previously dominated it.
• The body of the flesh = the physical body controlled by the fleshly nature… the sin nature.
4. This concept is similar to an expression found in Romans 6:6 – the body of sin.
a. Our old man was crucified with Christ.
• The old man is the man we were in Adam… the unregenerate you… the KIND of person you were before salvation—a slave to the indwelling sin nature!
• When Christ died, I died! You died.
• We died WITH Christ, because by faith we are IN Christ.
• Rom. 6:3 – we died with Christ, because we were BAPTIZED into His death. (Spirit baptism… not water.)
• Col. 2:12 – emphasizes this point – that it is by means of baptism that we have been identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
• Spirit baptism baptizes, immerses, or positions us IN Christ… in Christ’s Body.
• Thus, because God sees us IN Christ, His death becomes our death; His burial and resurrection becomes our burial and resurrection.
• The point in Romans 6:6 is that our faith unites us to Christ… God baptizes us into the Body of Christ, and from that position, our old man died when Christ died.
b. Two PURPOSES of our old man being crucified:
• Immediate purpose: THAT the body of sin might be destroyed.
• Long range purpose: that we should not serve sin (live like a slave to sin).
c. The body of sin = the human body as seen as a slave to sin… a body controlled by the sinful nature… also known as the flesh.
• The body of sin is destroyed = rendered inoperative.
• Our physical body, formerly a slave to the indwelling sin nature, has been rendered inoperative.
• Our death with Christ severed or separated the person from bondage to his sin nature.
• The sin nature is like an evil master that had rule over us… dominated our body.
• But once death occurs, we are no longer under the dominion of that evil master… our sin nature.
• Like an evil master in the days of slavery in America. While his slave was alive, the evil master could order the slave to do his bidding.
• But once that slave died, the evil master had no more power over him… no more jurisdiction over him.
• Rom. 6:7 – Death set the former slave FREE from his evil master.
• A radical transformation of the person occurs at salvation. He is no longer a slave to his sin nature!
• The fleshly nature has been CUT OFF from its former position of dominance. (Rom. 6:14: dominion is over!)
d. The flesh, also known as the sin nature, is still present, but its dominance has been rendered inoperative.
• The power it once held over our body has been broken. Chains have been torn asunder, setting the prisoner free!
• We have been FREED from slavery to sin. (Rom. 6:7) Hence, we don’t HAVE to sin.
• In Romans 6, co-crucifixion separates us from our old master: sin… the flesh.
• In Col.2, circumcision separates us from the flesh… it cuts off… or severs the flesh from the body. (a different illustration of the same truth)
• Spiritual circumcision separates the new creature and his body from bondage to the flesh and renders sin (the fleshly nature) inoperative.
• The old man who was characterized by absolute bondage to the flesh is DEAD!
• He has been cut off… we don’t have to live that way any more! Thank you Lord!
e. Thus, the cross of Romans six is like the knife of spiritual circumcision… the instrument that severs.
• What the knife was to physical circumcision, the cross is to spiritual circumcision.
• That’s why in Colossians, Paul doesn’t speak about the death, burial, and resurrection. He speaks of the circumcision, burial, and resurrection—all of which are true because of Spirit baptism… which identifies the believer with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
• The cross is the instrument used by God to cut off once and for all… to sever the believer from dominance to his sinful nature!
• When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him… and that radically changed us as a person.
• We are no longer the old man who was a slave to sin… but we are set free from sin!
• The evil master—our sin nature is still alive.
» I John 1:8 – if we say we have no sin (nature) we deceive ourselves! (Cf. vs.10 – acts of sin)
» The sin nature didn’t’ die. But we died to it! (Rom. 6:11)
» Our old man was crucified… but our old nature lives on. The inclination to evil is still present with us.
• Just like Satan didn’t die at the cross—but he was defeated there!
» He no longer has dominion over us!
» Satan is alive and active but his dominion over us was broken at the cross.
» As we walk by faith, we can experience the victory of the cross.
» The shield of faith will quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one!
• Our sin nature is also alive and well, but its dominion over us has been broken at the cross… cut off… severed! Defeated!
» We no longer have to bow to our former master: sin. We can now say NO to sin!
» The shield of faith protects us from the wiles of the devil; so too faith protects us from every temptation that arises from within… from our sin nature. It too is a defeated foe… and by faith we can experience victory over our old nature… by believing /resting in what God has said.
• Our victory is by faith.
» None of this truth we see or feel.
» I don’t know about you, but I still FEEL like a slave to sin at times.
» I sometimes even ACT like a slave to sin.
» But I also BELIEVE what God says… regardless of my earthly experiences and failures… regardless of my earthly feelings, I am NOT a slave to sin, and I know it, because God said so!
» As I believe God and walk by faith, I can experience the victory Christ purchased at the cross where He defeated all my foes: the world, the flesh, and the devil!
• This victory is available because of the supernatural work God did in my heart—and yours if you are saved.
» I died with Christ. That death SEVERED (cut off; circumcised) my physical body from slavery to the principle of indwelling sin and thus FREED me from bondage to sin.
• Charles Wesley: Long my imprisoned spirit lay; fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose went forth and followed thee!
• We are COMPLETE in Christ: complete freedom from bondage as we walk by faith! Complete protection from our enemies; complete provision for life and godliness; and it is all because of the completed, finished work of Christ on Calvary.
• Whichever illustration we use: a prisoner whose chains fell off; circumcision where the flesh is cut off; or the cross, whereby through death we were severed from dominion to our sin nature… the truth is the same.
• We have been SET FREE in Christ! No longer slaves to sin and self!
• Gal. 6:14 – Because we died with Christ, the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.
» We are no longer slaves to its ways, whims, wishes, or to its fashion, fancies, and philosophies.
» We don’t have to follow its marching orders any more.
» We no longer have to walk after the course of this world. We died to this world…
» I take O cross they shadow for my abiding place; I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face; Content to let the world go by; to know no gain nor loss; my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross!
Buried In Christ (Col.2:12)
1. We are buried with Christ in baptism.
2. Some take it to mean water baptism.
a. However, it is not by means of water baptism that we died, were buried, and rose with Christ.
b. Water baptism is only a picture of the true baptism.
c. If someone refers to this as baptism it can only have that meaning if it is understood in the sense of the truth that water baptism ILLUSTRATES in the passage: buried (under the water) and risen (emerging from the water).
d. The spiritual resurrection is illustrated by water baptism, but is accomplished by Spirit baptism.
e. Physical circumcision and water baptism do not accomplish anything. They merely illustrate truth.
f. Spiritual circumcision and Spirit baptism DO accomplish something: salvation; regeneration; death, burial, and resurrection with Christ… enabling us to walk in newness of life.
3. Reasons to understand this as Spirit baptism.
a. Paul mentioned two rites in this section: circumcision and baptism.
b. The circumcision of vs.11 is SPIRITUAL circumcision, not physical. It would be odd if he then switched to physical or water baptism in the next breath.
c. Spiritual circumcision and Spirit baptism are alike in that they both the realities… not the shadow or the illustration.
d. Also, the circumcision and baptism in this context ACCOMPLISH a spiritual work. That is not true of physical circumcision or baptism.
e. Spirit baptism immerses us INTO the Body of Christ, which means that His death becomes our death; His burial becomes our burial; His resurrection becomes our resurrection.
f. Thus, the spiritual circumcision (salvation/regeneration) occurs by MEANS OF spiritual baptism (which places us in Christ… wherein we died with Christ… our old man is crucified, and we rose with Christ as new creatures).
4. Buried with Him.
a. The burial of Christ was the EVIDENCE or proof of His death. It was a genuine death… proven by the burial.
b. Death and burial are necessary… for resurrection LIFE only comes out of death… out of the tomb.
c. Rom. 6:4 – ?Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
d. We were co-buried with Christ… and our old life was put out of the way… buried where it belongs.
• And don’t go digging it up again!
• Our old life was dealt with in righteousness and justice at the cross.
• Some folks seem to like to dig up their past—and for various reasons.
• Some like to GLORY in their past sins.
• Others dig up their past and stir up sorrow, grief, and guilt over their past.
• We are dead WRONG to glory in our past life of sin, as if those were the good old days!
• We are equally wrong to sulk and feel guilty over our past sins… as if the Cross was not sufficient to pay for our sins.
• Our past life is OVER—gone and buried. Don’t dig it up. Don’t try to relive it. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Don’t impose a Protest penance upon yourself.
• And don’t gloat over past accomplishments in the flesh.
• BELIEVE that our past life is GONE… dead and buried… and put out of sight.
• Phil. 3:7-10 – Paul had the right attitude towards his past life… his successes and his failures:
» He saw them all as DUNG compared to the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.
» Paul was willing to let go of his past life… and all the things he gloried in.
» He was willing to suffer the loss of it all. To him, his past life was over… dead and buried.
» There is no good reason to dig up dung. Keep your past life buried.
» vs. 10 – Now Paul’s NEW goal was to know Christ… and to know the power of the resurrection in his life…
» But he was also aware of the fact that there is no experiencing the power of the resurrection unless we are willing to be conformed to His death.
» Death and burial must precede resurrection power.
» The more we reach back to our past life (either to gloat or wallow in pity and remorse)… the less we will experience the power of the resurrection in our lives.
» Paul refused to reach back to his old life. He wanted to keep it buried. Instead, he was reaching and pressing toward the mark of the prize of the high calling… our glorious position IN Christ Jesus.
Risen In Christ (Col.2:12)
1. WHEREIN also ye are risen…
a. Wherein either means “in Him” or it refers back to Spirit baptism—which concepts are nearly identical in this context.
b. The simplest is to understand baptism as its antecedent.
c. In Spirit baptism, we were not only united with Christ in His death, but also in His resurrection!
d. Colossians tells us the FACT of our co-resurrection with Christ.
e. But it is Ephesians which tells us the LOCATION to which we were raised.
• Eph. 2:5-6 – Our resurrection with Christ brings us up into heavenly places… at the moment of saving faith.
• We were not raised up to our previous earthly existence, but rather to a new heavenly realm!
• And in that realm, we are COMPLETE… blessed with ALL spiritual blessings in Christ.
2. We have been raised into heavenly places NOW… not when we die.
a. When Paul says that ye are risen he is not talking about the future resurrection of our bodies.
• He is speaking about the spiritual resurrection that occurs at the moment of saving faith.
• We were raised up spiritual death to spiritual LIFE!
b. It was the resurrection of Christ (and our identification with Him) that brings us into heaven… not our physical death!
c. This is our new position in Christ… and this new position brings with it, MANY new privileges.
• Because of the cross, we have access to God NOW…
• Access into the heavenly holy of holies NOW…
• Citizens of heaven NOW…
• And right now, heaven is our dwelling place…
• And as we DWELL there by faith… set our affections there… abide there IN Christ the Vine…
• There we are FILLED with the fullness of God—His life, power, character… flows through us naturally.
d. Because of the cross, there is nothing between us and God, right now! We are perfectly ACCEPTED in the Beloved… and are able to dwell in His presence in the holy of holies with God!
e. We have constant access to the Father… to the throne of grace… to the power of the resurrection… and to Christ our Great High Priest… our Source of grace, strength, and spiritual nourishment… all we need to walk in newness of life and bear fruit.
f. Rom. 6:4 – it is because we were RAISED up with Christ into this new realm that we are ABLE to live the resurrected life… standards that are heaven high!
g. Our identification with Christ in His death broke the power of indwelling sin; our identification with Christ in His resurrection means that we now walk worthy of our high calling…
h. Col. 1:9 – We can now walk WORTHY of the Lord unto all pleasing… being fruitful…
i. Col. 1:10 – because we are raised up with Christ… the power of the resurrection is operating in us. We are thus strengthened with all might… according to HIS glorious power… the power that raised Jesus from the dead.
j. That’s plenty of power to deal with the issues in my life… and in yours!
3. Through the FAITH of the operation of God –
a. God wants us to BELIEVE (trust; rest; rely upon His Word). He wants us to believe that His power is operating in us… energizing us.
b. He said that as we walk worthy, we would be strengthened with ALL might according to His glorious power. BELIEVE Him! That’s plenty of power to control your tongue… etc.
c. As we fight our spiritual battles, it SEEMS like self fighting against sins… it FEELS like it is ME who is fighting the battle…. just like it must have felt to the Jews when they picked up and fought against their enemies… but it was the LORD who went before them and gave them the victory… it is GOD who gives the increase… as we walk by faith.
d. God doesn’t want us to live by our FEELINGS, but by the FACTS: as we walk by faith—BELIEVE that GOD is WORKING in us both to will and to DO of His good pleasure.
e. BELIEVE – have faith in the operation of God to accomplish His perfect will in YOUR Life… and God will make you perfect to do His will… WORKING in you that which is well pleasing in His sight.
f. As we take that step of faith, BELIEVE that we are in fact ABLE to walk in newness of life, not because we are strong in ourselves, but because we are strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might.
4. On the basis of the preceding FACTS (our co-death; co-burial; and co-resurrection with Christ), through faith we experience the operation (energy; power) of God in our lives.
a. This energy of God operating in us is the energy of divine indwelling LIFE—Christ in you, the hope of glory!
b. God operates in and through us… God works in us… God energizes us… His resurrection power flows through us…
c. All this occurs as we reckon upon these facts… trusting in them… believing what God said… and taking simple steps of faith accordingly.
5. Eph. 1:19-20 – God wants us to KNOW experientially the exceeding greatness of His power… the power that He wrought in raising Jesus from the dead.
a. By faith we can have this experiential knowledge of the power of God working in us… giving us victory over our tongue… our anger… jealousy… pride… lust… that unforgiving spirit… covetousness… bitterness…
b. The power of the resurrection can be functioning in your life; in your home; in your marriage; in your testimony at work; in your mind and heart throughout the day; in the trials and tribulations of life; in our attitude toward circumstances; towards people;
c. So the next time you face temptation… remind yourself that you are COMPLETE in Christ.
• You are perfectly accepted in the Beloved.
• Regardless of how the temptation makes you FEEL, BELIEVE what God said: you are NOT a slave to sin. Sin shall NOT have dominion over you. You have been FREED from sin.
• Chains have been torn asunder: you don’t HAVE to sin… because your old man—who was a slave to sin DIED with Christ.
• You are now COMPLETE in Christ—a new creature in Christ—with new provisions for a victorious living.
• The Holy Spirit dwells within you: divine power available.
• The power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you.
• The operation or energy of God will work IN you as you walk by faith… trusting that as we face our foe… as I dig in my heels and say NO to sin… it is no longer I but Christ. It is GOD working in me both to will and to DO of His good pleasure.
• Take that step of faith and discover the REALITY of the operation of God in YOUR life!
• AS ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord (by grace through faith) so walk ye in Him!
• As we take that step of faith, it FEELS like it is I doing it all. But by faith I reject what my feelings tell me and I trust what God said. His power is operating in me by faith.
• We are the TRUE circumcision… who worship God in the Spirit and have NO confidence in the flesh. No confidence in flesh… in self…
• No confidence in MY ability to walk in newness of life… but ABSOLUTE confidence in God’s ability to hold me up and keep me going…
• And this confidence (faith) WILL hold me up and keep me going!
• That’s a walk of faith… and faith is the victory.