Returning with a Circumcised Heart
Due to centuries of man-made doctrine and church’s propensity for hyper-spiritualization, the definition of a “circumcised heart” has lost much of it’s meaning. Because of this error, our perception is so skewed that there are those who believe they are walking with a circumcised heart, when they are actually living according to their own rules and standards.
Even the most “die hard” christian will believe this fallacy. There are many who read their Bibles every day, go to church on Sunday, never cuss, never drink, stay away from rated “R” movies, fast, pray and pursue Jesus in every way they know how, but according to the Word, their hearts are still not circumcised.
If these people aren’t living holy (“set apart”) lives for YHWH, what hope do the rest of us have?
Well, there is hope. It is possible to actually walk in a holy (“set apart”) manner before your Creator with a real circumcised heart. How is this done?
The first step is to get back to a biblical definition and understanding of a circumcised heart. Don’t worry, it’s not a complex topic, nor is it a “hyper-spiritual” one… it’s actually quite practical.
Is the Heart Always Deceitful?
When a believer evaluates his/her walk with YHWH, the condition of the heart inevitably comes into play… or at least, it should. When faced with their own lukewarmness, average christians will usually parrot the baseless, yet socially-acceptable excuse, “well, God knows my heart.” This is what they are trained to do when they want to establish a gray area, so that they can ignore (or justify) the difference between their lives and the righteous standards put forth in the Bible.
The prophet said:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
I know many people online who will use this verse in arguments against lukewarm christians who use weak excuses like the one already stated. In these situations, I believe the application of this verse is valid, but some will take it too far and tell you that your heart will always be wicked, so therefore you have no hope to have anything other than an evil heart.
People who take the argument to this degree do not consider that Jeremiah was talking to a sinful, fallen nation who had forsaken the commandments of the Most High and embraced the idolatrous ways of the surrounding nations. They resign themselves (and others) to lives of self-condemnation, convinced that they can never and will never overcome the wickedness of their own hearts.
But is man destined to live with an evil and desperately wicked heart?
Let me ask a ridiculous question. Was Yeshua’s heart “deceitful and desperately wicked?”
I’m sure most of you would answer that question with a resounding “NO!” and you would be right to do so.
Now let’s make the connection. If Yeshua’s heart was not “deceitful and desperately wicked,” then how can we emulate Yeshua if our hearts will always be “deceitful and desperately wicked?”
Is it possible to overcome the wickedness of our own hearts?
Enter the Circumcised Heart
The circumcised heart is NOT just a New Testament concept that was only possible with the shed Blood of the Messiah. Moses mentioned it in his discourse to the children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. While speaking to the children of Israel, Moses directly connects the circumcised heart with obedience to ALL of the commandments.
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in ALL His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
This passage (and others) form an eternal bond between the obedience to YHWH’s commandments and a circumcised heart. This dynamic did not change in the New Testament either, which I will prove later.
Some believers, who have not already taken offense at the possibility that their idea of a circumcised heart is an Old Testament concept, may try to comfort themselves with the assurance that they try to keep the 10 Commandments (except the 4th, of course, because they believe God allows them to fudge that one), so they’re safe.
But this is not referring to the 10 Commandments. When you read of the 10 Commandments in Exodus, the word for “commandments” is “davarim,” which merely means “words, speech, or sayings.” One could easily call the 10 Commandments “the 10 Words” and get away with it (and Jewish people do). The Hebrew word for “commandment” in Deuteronomy 10: 13, is “mitzvah,” which literally means “commandment.”
Since the 10 Commandments contain directives, they are undoubtedly still the “10 Mitzvot,” but this was not what was being specified in Deuteronomy 10:13. Moses equated the circumcised heart with obedience to the commandments that he had commanded the children of Israel on that specific day. The “10 Commandments” that all christians know and love – well, OK “9 commandments” – had been given at Mt. Sinai much earlier.
This presents a serious problem to the well-churched christian.
Circumcision of the Heart in the New Testament
The circumcision of the heart is not just an OT concept, but is carried over into the NT. Paul did not change the meaning of circumcision of the heart, and neither did God. Isn’t it great how YHWH never changes?
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
A New Testament believer’s “circumcision of the heart” refers to the process of the “circumcision made without hands.” In this particular instance, Paul is not talking about the actual snip-job that a baby boy gets at birth. This process occurs in the “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh” or when you “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin.” (Romans 6:11) In plain English, Paul is referring to when we say “No” to our carnal, sin-saturated nature.
Do you see how circumcising your heart did not change between the Old Testament and the New Testament? Our God never changes, and neither do His ways. Man, however, has attempted to change them to fit into his own understanding. Pay close attention to this next part.
Moses instructed the children of Israel to circumcise their hearts and obey God’s law (remember “sin” is disobedience to God’s law – 1 John 3:4), and Paul is telling the New Testament believers to put off the sins of the flesh (disobedience to God’s law) and circumcise their hearts. So, in the act of circumcising our hearts, if we put off disobedience to God’s law, what are we doing? Obeying God’s law!
We do this through our faith in God’s work in raising the Messiah from the dead. Our faith is not a passive, mental faith that even demons can have (James 2:19), but an active, works-supported faith that is inspired by our hope in the resurrection.
Link: The Subtle Difference Between Demonic Faith and the Faith of Abraham (May 14, 2015)
And you, being dead in your trespasses [against the Law] and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses [against the Law], having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
I hope that we are all starting to comprehend that to be “circumcised in our hearts” means that we put off our sinful (full of transgression against the law) nature, and walk in obedience to His commands – being “alive to God.” In the verse above, we can see that the opposite of this concept is to be dead in trespasses and dead in the uncircumcision of your flesh.
Romans says that “the wages of sin [transgression against the Law] is death” (Romans 6:23). This, too, is not a New Testament concept. Read Deuteronomy 28 to see a very vivid, Old Testament example of this concept. If you sin, you will be cursed and die, plain and simple.
When Paul speaks of the “handwriting of requirements against us,” he was referring to the punishment for breaking God’s Torah, not the Torah itself… and not our obedience to it. Obedience to Torah is always accompanied by blessing. In fact, the Old Testament is packed FULL of Scripture telling us that, if we obey His Commands, it will be a blessing to us!
- And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always… (Deut. 6:24)
- …keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? (Deut. 10:13)
- Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever… (Deut. 12:28)
- See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. (Deut. 30:15-16)
That’s just a few verses out of the book of Deuteronomy, need I go on?
It should be obvious to anyone that sinning works AGAINST us. Yeshua took that penalty for our sin [transgression of the law]… the “handwriting of requirements against us” on the cross.
The Father made us “alive together with Him” because the penalty for transgressing the Torah was nailed on the tree with the Messiah. It’s shocking how many so-called “ministers” teach that it’s acceptable to tell their congregations that they can just turn around and disobey it again.
The New Covenant and the Circumcised Heart
Not only is circumcision of the heart connected to obedience to the commandments of the Most High, it is also a major component of the New Covenant. The prophet Jeremiah said:
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write [H3789 – write, inscribe] it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
We see that the fullness of the New Covenant will happen “after those days,” which is referring to a time that has not yet occurred. It is “after those days” that the fullness of the New Covenant comes to its fruition. In order for you to be a part of this New Covenant, certain things have to happen.
- You have to be a part of the house of Israel – This is a major obstacle for those who think they can be saved and remain Gentiles. Christians get a major brain-cramp when it comes to this concept, because they believe that the Jew/Gentile dichotomy has to do with nationality, not covenant. I have a post in the kicker addressing this, but you’re going to have to wait.
- You have to be willing to have His Torah inserted into your minds – This means you will be thinking about His Torah, meditating on His Torah and considering His Torah in everything you do. What does this mean for those who have been taught that the Kingdom Law has passed away?
- You have to be willing to have the Kingdom Law inscribed/cut onto your hearts – This means that it will become very dear to you, cut/inscribed/circumcised onto your very core. In the Kingdom, sin [transgression of the law] will not exist. No one will have a chance to disobey Torah; it will not even be considered. His Law will be the Law of New Jerusalem.
If you go back and read further into Deuteronomy, you will find Moses prophesying of this full realization of the New Covenant, when YHWH returns the scattered of Israel to the land and implements the New Covenant.
Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
Notice in chapter 10, Moses instructed the people to circumcise their hearts (Old Covenant), but in chapter 30 Moses said that YHWH would circumcise the hearts of the people (fully-realized New Covenant)?
Well, what about us?
If we’ve been instructed to circumcise our hearts unto YHWH, and yet there will yet come a time when YHWH will circumcise our hearts by writing His Law on our hearts and putting it in our minds… what does that mean for us now?
What course of action should we take? I’m so glad you asked!
Bringing Back the Heart – Step 1
One does not have to look far to realize that the church system that we have grown up with is failing miserably. This error did not start with prayer being taken out of school or the hippy generation. Pope Francis, Joel Osteen, and the prophetic movement are not to blame. All of what you have seen over the last 40-50 years is just the fruit of a bad seed planted long ago. If you want to continue in that structure, go right ahead, but I’m telling you, things do not bode well for you.
For those of you who, like me, recognize the error and want nothing to do with it, both a change in perception and a change in practice is are order. The first thing that we need to do is get our understanding straight regarding several terms that the mainstream church would rather you just forget about.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
This wonderful Psalm, written by a “man after God’s own heart” mentions the terms that I referred to above. While I can’t go into each individual definition in this post and successfully stay “on topic,” I do hope to be able write more about them in the future. Each of these concepts have different meanings and are studies in their own right. (I’ve hyperlinked them for your convenience.)
- The law of the Lord
- The testimony of the Lord
- The statutes of the Lord
- The commandments of the Lord
- The fear of the Lord
- The judgments of the Lord
You can tell a lot about the condition of a person’s heart by the level of reverence they have for these facets of the Creator, and I have found that people tend to either accept or reject them, as a whole.
- Those who excuse the law of the Lord have no real fear of the Lord.
- Those who try to pick and choose what commandments to obey, have no regard for the law of the Lord.
- Those who are not aware of the testimonies of the Lord have no understanding of the His judgments.
- Those who have no understanding of His judgments will not obey His commandments.
And it goes on and on and on…
The main term that will raise the hackles on any Christian is the term “law.” This is mainly due to the dispensational indoctrination that has been pounded into their heads since they walked the aisle. These same christians can read what the New Testament says about “lawlessness” over and over again and still miss the point.
Most of the time, when you see the word “law” in the Bible, it doesn’t even mean “law,” but rather “teaching and instruction.” You can teach a child many things – how to do dishes, how take care of themselves, how to treat others. When you teach, you don’t necessarily command.
A statute, however, is something different entirely. The word “statute” comes from the Hebrew word “piqquwd” [H6490] which comes from the root word of “paqad” . If you look at the definitions of both these words, you can see that these are commands that you specifically need to pay attention to – not that they are more important than the other commandments, testimonies, etc. It’s just that when “pay attention to, care for, etc.” is part of its definition, it’s probably a good idea to put forth a special effort to consider them.
These are the things that rejoice the heart of a man after God’s own heart.
Why should we rejoice in our Father’s orders? Because a good servant of the court delights in fulfilling the wishes of the King. Because a good citizen of the Kingdom rejoices in living according to the standards of that Kingdom. It’s an all-or-nothing thing… and it exposes the condition of the heart.
Why do you think the items listed above are (at best) ignored or (at worst) considered a curse?
To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Bringing Back the Heart – Step 2
The next step that needs to happen is for the people of God to prepare their hearts for the day when He will put His law in our minds and write it on our hearts. How do we prepare our hearts?
Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.
There is a direct connection between preparing your heart and ridding yourselves of idolatry, as well as seeking YHWH’s Kingdom Law and teaching it.
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
I, for one, do not want to be one who is considered “least in the Kingdom,” which is part of the reason I have decided to become more vocal about obeying His Kingdom Law. I highly recommend that you do the same. In fact, I sincerely doubt you can successfully circumcise (and prepare) your heart without doing so.
Jeremiah equates the circumcision of the heart with returning to the Lord.
“If you will return, O Israel,” says the LORD, “Return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved.”
How will I know if I have a circumcised heart?
So, I restate the question from the beginning of this post: If the people who read their Bibles every day, go to church on Sunday, never cuss, never drink, stay away from rated “R” movies, fast, pray and pursue Jesus in every way they know how aren’t living holy lives (“set apart”) for YHWH, what hope do the rest of us have?
There is much hope.
We’ve learned today that the Bible, in no uncertain terms, shows us what the circumcised heart entails. It is nothing more and nothing less than a willingness to follow His Torah. To read anything else into this equation is to insert your own understanding into it. I’m not meaning to come off as overly dogmatic, the Scripture just says what it says.
1 John 3:7 says:
Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
The Father does not demand perfection from those with circumcised hearts, but He does demand that we show our faith by our actions. So we respond to His love and prepare our hearts by ridding ourselves of our idols and following and teaching His commandments to the best of our ability. This proves to Him that we are willing to be loyal citizens of the Kingdom.
When He returns, the New Covenant will be fully realized and His law will be inserted into our minds and engraved on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). He will do the circumcising and we will no longer have to worry about carnal desires obstructing our walk with Him.
Knowing that, in His Kingdom, there is absolutely NO unrighteousness and being fully assured that He will complete this great work, should we not prepare ourselves now?
Revelation tells us in 3 different places that the end time saints (that should be you and me) are those who both DO the commandments and hold the to the same faith that Yeshua had (Revelation 12:17, 14:12, 22:14). These are not people who, when faced with our own lukewarmness, trust that their salvation or place in the Kingdom is based upon intent or mental assent.
No, these are those saints who have put “foot to faith” and have circumcised their hearts unto the King, showing Him that they are ready to be loyal subjects in a Kingdom not of this world.
This is Israel – His people.