< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Colossians 2:11-12

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Colossians 2:11-12

Colossians 2:11-12 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, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Circumcision and baptism. These are mentioned a lot in the book of Galatians. Jewish males were circumcised as a sign of the Jewish covenant with God. There were 2 schools of thought the Jews had about this: there were the people who felt that good or bad, as long as he was an Israelite and circumcised, he was right with the Lord.
And there were the more scholarly thinkers, the great spiritual leaders and prophets who insisted that circumcision was only the outward mark of a man who was inwardly dedicated to God. What was really cut off in the circumcision was anything outside the will of God.

Paul says, any priest can cut a man’s body, but only Jesus Christ can bring about spiritual circumcision. And he says this happens now at baptism. Remember, back then, adults were baptized; they made a conscious and willing decision to dedicate their lives to God. In a Jewish baptism all the man’s body had to touch water and in Paul’s day, baptism of new Christians was total immersion. The idea was as the waters closed over a man’s head, he died. As he rose from the cleansing water, he rose to new life. His old life was dead and gone.

Baptism parallels the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. My application Bible says that remembering, “that our old sinful life is dead and buried with Christ gives a powerful motive to resist sin.” Not wanting the desires of our past to come back to power again, we can consciously choose to treat our desires as if they are dead. Many people think of Christian baptism as the counterpart and replacement of Jewish circumcision. The outward sign of our inward belief.

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