INNER CIRCLE: The Benefits of Spiritual Circumcision

INNER CIRCLE: The Benefits of Spiritual Circumcision May 5, 2023

Image: Keith Giles

Saying 53: His disciples said to him, “Is circumcision beneficial or not?” He said to them, “If it were beneficial, their father would beget them from their mother’s womb already circumcised. Rather, the true circumcision in spirt has proved completely profitable.”


This saying suggests that circumcision “counts for nothing”, as the Apostle Paul shockingly proclaims in one of his very first epistles written to the ekklesia in Galatia.

Shocking because to observant Jewish believers in the First Century, the commands given to them by their own Scriptures were unwavering in their assertion that every male must be circumcised.

In fact, Moses himself was nearly put to death by God’s own angel of death for refusing to circumcise his own adult sons and barely escaped the penalty of death by the quickness of his wife’s hands to perform the deed in just the nick of time. [Pun intended].

Sayings like this one, and others throughout this Gospel, as well as the Synoptics and John’s Gospel, are shockingly irreverent and even bordering on blasphemous in some places. Like when Jesus directly contradicts Moses’s statement from Deuteronomy about God sending rain only to the righteous, yet drying up the crops of those who hate God by asserting that “God sends rain to the just and the unjust.” Or, when Jesus continually breaks the Sabbath laws, or when he brazenly stands up and says, “You have heard it said,” quotes from Moses’s own book, and then says, “…but I say to you…”, as if Moses of all people required updating or correcting.

But, they did require correction, and this is why Jesus and Paul and several other New Testament authors so often did so.

Here, Jesus takes aim at the sign of the Old Covenant itself: circumcision. By observing that circumcision couldn’t be necessary since God created foreskins and allowed every male to be born with one, Jesus asserts the empty ritual of this practice as entirely unnecessary.

Instead, Jesus urges his followers to spiritualize the concept of circumcision, calling for “true circumcision in spirit”, which is similar to Paul’s use of the term “circumcision of the heart” in Romans 8:29 which speaks of the value of setting oneself apart from the world and cutting away the unnecessary and “fleshy” aspects of our spiritual being.

What matters most is not the outward sign of an empty ritual in our physical bodies, but the inward reality of one’s inseparable identity as a child of God marked indelibly upon our very souls.

What Jesus urges us to consider in this saying is very practical: Decide for yourself what is beneficial or not. Don’t allow your religious tradition, or even the sacred scriptures to think for you.

You have the mind of Christ. You can see for yourself what matters and what doesn’t.

Abandon the dead religious sacraments of your elders. Embrace the newness of life that is pouring down from the heart of your Heavenly Father today.

Let go of the past. Live in this very moment.

Everything is now.


So excited to announce that my friend Jim Palmer is one of the many amazing keynote speakers at AWAKEN: Nashville, June 9-10, 2023 at Spero Dei Church.

Other speakers include:

Dr. Jennifer Bird, Heather Hamilton, Karen Shock, EveWasFramed, Laci Bean, Desimber Rose, Dan Henderson, Nat Turney and David Moses Perez.

PLUS: Special Music Guest – Jennifer Knapp!

This is a safe place for anyone questioning their faith or those looking for hope, healing and community with others who are deconstructing their Christianity.


Keith Giles is the best-selling author of the Jesus Un series. He has appeared on CNN, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and John Fugelsang’s “Tell Me Everything.” His latest book, SOLA MYSTERIUM: Celebrating the Beautiful Uncertainty of Everything is available now on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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