"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
Uncircumcision is Spiritual Death
By Fred O. Blakely
"You, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did He make alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses" (Col. 2:13, ASV).
The spiritual death of uncircumcision is here recognized by the Apostle, as the context fully reveals. Through "the circumcision of Christ" (v. 11), by which His body, in which the world's sins were borne, was cut away from His spirit, is the salvation offered to humanity. That is "the redemption" that is in Him (Rom. 3:21-26)--that which is made possible and provided for by His circumcision.
Hence as, by faith and baptism, we are incorporated into our Lord's death, or circumcision, "the body of the flesh" is reckoned by God as cut off from our spirit by "the circumcision of Christ" (v. 11, ASV).
The spiritually circumcised, thus, stand before God minus their sinful bodies and natures; they have been cut away from them by their participation in Christ's circumcision. Therefore, "the spirit is life," or alive Godward, because of that state--its justification in Christ (Rom. 8:10). So are we "the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3).
By the same token, all accountable persons who are not thus circumcised are dead in "the uncircumcision" of their flesh. Their sinful flesh and natures have not been excised from their spirits, and they stand condemned before God in their corrupted condition.
That is what is involved in Jesus' emphasized representation of the unbeliever's lost state. "He that believeth not is condemned already" (Jn. 3:18; cf. v. 36). The condemnation is "because they believe not on Me" (ch. 16:9).
The sinful body and nature must be separated from man, if he is to be accepted by God. And that can be done only by "the circumcision made without hands," i.e., by having the fleshly body and nature cut off from the spirit "by the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2:11).
The Lesson of the Folded Napkin
By Fred O. Blakely
An almost incidental mention by John of a circumstance attending our Lord's resurrection speaks clearly of his life discipline. When John and Peter arrived at the empty tomb, he tells us they found "the linen cloths" in which Jesus' body had been wrapped for burial "lying" (Jn. 20:3-9, ASV). In addition, they beheld "the napkin that was upon His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up [folded, CV] in a place by itself" (v. 7).
One must try to imagine something of the unutterable joy and glory to Jesus of this occasion, in order to appreciate the significance of this seeming sidelight chronicled by John. Death had now been forever vanquished, the mighty Conqueror had emerged from the gates of Hades, demonstrating the validity of His claims of Messiahship, and having the keys of the "last enemy" (I Cor. 15:26). He was "alive forevermore" (Rev. 1:18), and was soon to ascend to the universal throne, to reign over all the works of His Father's hands. The "joy that was set before Him" was now beginning to be realized (Heb. 12:1-2). What divine exaltation must have filled His entire Being! Surely, never before was there an occasion so filled with "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Pet. 1:8).
Yet, in this hour of great and earnestly-anticipated conquest, Christ did not lose, even momentarily, the disciplined equilibrium that had characterized His whole earthly life. He carefully folded the napkin and laid it aside before leaving the tomb.
What a lesson in personal discipline and proper attentiveness to detail--consistent orderliness--the folded-napkin incident has for the church! Some claim to be so taken up by the Spirit that they care not for the essential chores and relationships of earthly life. Others, through outright indifference and negligence, are slothful and dilatory in attention to duty.
Here, Christ's action condemns both classes. There is nothing in true spirituality, however exalted the measure, that justifies or condones haphazardness or looseness in discharge of the legitimate "business" of this life (Rom. 12:11). It is not a mark of spirituality, but of slovenliness, to be disorderly.
Our Lord's directive to the disciples at the five thousands' feeding is cognate with the lesson of the napkin episode. "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost," He said (Jn. 6:12). Neither is there any license in the faith for wastefulness. The church should also learn to partake of this aspect of Christ's discipline, in its development into "the measure of the stature" of His fullness (Eph. 4:13).
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).