The Doctrine of Spiritual Circumcision

The Doctrine of Spiritual Circumcision    A.W.Weckeman

“In whom also ye also are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” (Col. 2:11).

As we learned in the previous study entitled, “Spirit, Soul & Body” (under Fundamental Doctrines) man was created in God’s image, therefore he is, as God is, a triune being, spirit, soul and body (1 Thess. 5:23).

A simple analogy would be a football which has a leather cover (body) a rubber bladder (soul) and is filled with air (spirit).

The Bodily Form of the Soul
The soul has an invisible bodily form inside the physical body. Consider (Rev.6:9-11). Notice that after death the disembodied soul retains a definite shape which could be clothed with a robe. The soul of the rich man in hell (Luke 16:22-24) still has his senses; sight, sound, touch, and taste.

circ1We also learned that prior to the Fall, Adam’s total being was in union with God. The light of the Holy Spirit passed through Adam’s spirit unimpeded, reaching into his soul and influencing his mind, will, and body. Before the fall Adam was in harmony with his Creator, his spirit, soul and body were enlightened by the power of God. (See Figures # 1 & 1 a)

This is not to say that Adam was a robot, controlled by God, but a spiritually minded being with free will, to which all things were possible. There was only one limitation placed upon Adam (Gen. 2:16-17).

As we shall see, when Adam and Eve exercised their God given free will to disobey, a crucial change occurred. A split second after the creature chose to defy his Creator an inward fatality occurred. Adam and Eve’s spiritual union with God was the first casualty of their disobedience…the departure of the Holy Spirit from their spirit rendered them spiritually dead, separated from God.

As a result of the “Fall” Adam and all his descendants were then, “dead in trespasses and sins…” (Eph.2:1). This death not only affected the spirit of man, but also the soul and body.

Effect of the “Fall” on the physical Body
From this point on Adam’s physical body would gradually begin to deteriorate and eventually die, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen.3:19).

Effect on the Soul
Without the light of the Holy Spirit to guide them (due to spiritual death), their fallen flesh becomes the dominating life force.

Prior to Adam’s transgression, his soul was free from his flesh (Figure #1 & 1 a) When he sinned and died spiritually his soul became joined to his flesh.(Figures # 2 & 2 a)

circ2Before the fall the priority and order was spirit, soul, and body…the spirit was the master, the soul the steward and the body the servant.

After the Fall the order was reversed…the body became the master, the soul remained the steward and the spirit became the servant. See “Adam Before and after the Fall” (under Fundamental Doctrines, Home Page).

This is the meaning of (Eph. 2:1-3) “dead in trespasses and sins,” and (Rom. 7:5), “For when we were in the flesh” (prior to salvation).


By comparing (Figure # 1 a) with (Figure # 2 a) we can see the threefold affect of Adam’s sin, spirit, soul & body.

1st – The Holy Spirit’s departure from man’s spirit  resulted in the spiritual  death spoken of in (Gen.2:17) “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Remember, Adam did not die a physical death the day he sinned).

2nd – From this point on Adam’s physical body would begin to die, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19)

3rd – Adam’s soul and body have merged…the soul is now joined to the body of fallen flesh which has become the dominate life force.

Spirit, Soul, and Body Upon Salvation

When a person, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, repents of their sin and by faith trusts in Jesus’ substitutionary death on their behalf, the word of God states that they are, “born again” (John 3:3). Jesus’ explanation of the second birth to Nicodemus (John 3:3-8) reveals that He was referring to a spiritual re-birth “born of the Spirit” (v. 8).

The reason that Jesus is called the “last Adam” (1 Cor.15:45) is because He came to undo the curse of the first Adam. When Adam sinned he immediately experienced a spiritual death,(Gen. 2:17) later followed by a physical death (Gen.5:5). Upon salvation a reversal occurs…the spirit is first quickened then the body at a future time (Rom.8:23).

Adam’s disobedience resulted in death…his entire being (spirit, soul, and body) was affected.  The obedience of the “last Adam” restored life to that  which was lost.  Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection redeemed mankind…spirit, soul, and body.  “For as one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Rom.5:19).

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” (2 Cor.5:17)

The miracle of the second birth as described in (Titus 3:5) “…according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…” Regenerated, restored to a former state…that which was dead is brought back to life! “And you hath he quickened,[made alive] who were dead in trespasses and sins…” (Eph.2:1) [Emphasis mine]  

Salvation involves a supernatural operation whereby the believer is placed into the body of Christ through a spiritual baptism (1 Cor.12:13). This baptism involves a “circumcision made without hands”( Col.2:11) by which his soul is literally cut away from the body of flesh. In the process, the Holy Spirit  indwells man’s spirit, permanently sealing him (Eph.1:13), so that two spirits become one (1 Cor.6:17 & 19).

In the eyes of God every born again believer has been, “crucified with Christ” (Gal.2:20), thereby uniting them to His death, burial and  resurrection. See, the article entitled, “Co-crucifixion.”

At this point, the believer is, “complete in him, [in Christ] which is the head of all principality and power…”(Col.2:10) [Emphasis mine]

fig3xThe “circumcision made without hands” is a supernatural operation made by the Holy Spirit cutting free the redeemed  soul from, “the body of the sins of the flesh.” Figure # 3. Thereby restoring the priority and order of spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess.5:23) and creating a sanctuary within the believer separate from the corrupt body of flesh. This is the only way the Holy Spirit could indwell man without being joined to his sinful flesh!  Under the Old Testament God dwelt in a tabernacle made with hands (Exodus 25).  In the New Testament He dwells in the tabernacle made without hands (within the believer). This is why the word of God refers to a saved person’s body as the “temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 6:19, 3:16-17).


“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col.1:27b)

As a result of this spiritual operation every born again believer has two diametrically opposed forces within. The Bible refers to them as the “new man” and the, “old man” (Eph.4:22-24). The new man is led by the Spirit and the old man by the flesh.  In the next segment titled, “New Man vs. Old Man” we will study the nature and terrain of this inner struggle.

See next Lesson: “New Man vs. Old Man”