In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. We’ve learnt about the covenant of grace by which God forgives sin and grants eternal life. We’ve also seen that the covenant of grace was shown in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament by promises, prophecies and sacrifices. This week I want to show that another way the covenant of grace was revealed in the Old Testament was through circumcision.
Circumcision was introduced by God to Abraham after he trusted God to save him. God said: ‘This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you’ (Genesis 17:10-11).
Paul argues in Romans that circumcision in the Old Testament is thus a sign of God’s covenant of grace, not a good work that we must do to receive grace. Paul says about Abraham: ‘And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith’ (Romans 4:11-13).
If you trust in God, you are standing in the same covenant of grace that Abraham stood in. In fact you too are circumcised, not physically but spiritually. Paul says: ‘In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ’ (Colossians 2:11).
So do you have a circumcised heart?