I said in Old Testament vs. New: Should we take an Eye for an Eye or Turn the other Cheek? that a good rule of thumb when comparing the Old versus to the New Testament is to remember we are now currently living in the New Testament, meaning, we are living after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, our rules and regulations as followers of Christ are to mimic the teachings and covenants Jesus commanded in the New Testament.
However, there is still debate whether the practice of circumcision amongst Christians should still be practiced or ceased.
To answer this questions, one must realize why God made a covenant with Abraham to circumcise his offspring in the first place. In Genesis 17:10-11 it says, This [is] my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you (KJV).
This covenant between Abraham and God was simply a covenantal act of worship that Abraham was to perform that served three main functions:
- To acknowledge that God is Abraham’s God – Why? Because people worshipped many god’s, and this was a personal sign of worship for the One True God, and that Abraham would only follow His laws. If Abraham was to break this covenant, it would’ve signified his disloyalty and the end of his righteousness.
- Spiritual Symbolism (a) – Circumcision of the foreskin symbolized the old flesh being cut away and dying; just as Christians today are to “cut off” their old fleshly ways and follow Christ. The bible references dying to our flesh multiple times, and this representation is no different.
- Spiritual Symbolism (b) – An outward symbol of purification. Since the old flesh was cut away, what was left symbolized righteousness in God. Just like a sacrifice was a temporary ritual for the forgiveness of sins, this outward practice showed one was now “clean” or righteous in God’s eyes.
Remember, the covenants in the Old Testament were made to temporarily produce righteousness in God, but since Jesus rose again in the New Testament and sent the Holy Spirit, all three reasons are fulfilled through the righteousness of Jesus Christ in us. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made righteousness of God in him (KJV). – Meaning, we are no longer temporarily righteous, because, in God’s eyes, we become forever righteous through the Holy Spirit.
Additionally, the New Testament repeatedly details that circumcision (in the physical practice) is no longer necessary. Here’s just a few of the many verses on this:
Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love (ESV). – Meaning the physical practice of circumcision doesn’t matter, only faith through salvation does.
Romans 2:25-29 – Basically says, even if you are physically circumcised, if you sin, you become spiritually uncircumcised. Also, even if one is uncircumcised and they don’t sin, they are counted as circumcised because they’ve kept the Law of God. Finally, in verse 29 it says only the circumcision of the spirit matters, not the physical one of man.
1 Corinthians 7:19 blatantly says, being circumcised or uncircumcised doesn’t matter, only following God matters.
Now, for the nail in the coffin.
1 Corinthians 7:18 says in sum, that if you’re physically circumcised at your time of salvation, stay circumcised, and if you’re not physically circumcised at your time of salvation, stay uncircumcised, which further details that either is acceptable as long as you become a born again believer that follows Jesus.
Therefore, to answer the question if Christians are required to practice this covenant, I say no, your spiritual circumcision of salvation through Christ Jesus fulfils both the Old and New Testament commandment of righteousness.
Now, I understand that some will argue it’s still necessary for medical purposes, but I respond by saying, medical purposes is one’s own person preference, but doing it just to fulfil the Old Testament commandment is not necessary.