Grace Family Bible Church
The New Identity
By: Scott Morton
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, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Here we have the Apostle Paul speaking about the things which have happened to us as part of the new identity we have. There are certain things which have happened to every believer once they have put their trust in the gospel message for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). These are not things which the individual has performed well enough to have earned. The items discussed in this passage are spiritual blessings which have been freely given to us because of the new identity we have.
The first of these which is brought up is the spiritual circumcision (the circumcision made without hands). This is different from what we see in the Bible related to Israel, as they were called the Circumcision (Ephesians 2:11-12). We can see where this was instituted and the purpose behind this:
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
This is the first of the covenants which was made with Israel, as this was passed down from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to the twelve sons of Jacob and then to the rest of the nation. This is where they are separated out from all of the other nations in the world and are going to be the chosen vessel which God is going to use to reconcile the earth back to Him.
In order to identify the individuals there was going to need to be a sign to show they were part of this nation. This sign is given here:
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.  And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,  As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
There were physical signs which went with the covenants with Israel. This is because Israel are a people of signs and needed to be able to physically see things in order to fully understand when God was dealing with them. The physical sign of this covenant is circumcision, which is seen here:
And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.  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.  And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.  He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.  And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
This is what the nation was instructed to do. This was not an optional thing for them. We see even the Lord Jesus Christ went through this in Luke 2:21 and the Apostle Paul identifies this for himself in Philippians 3:5. They were not considered faithful if they had not participated in this. We can see how God viewed those who did not participate in the physical circumcision which was part of this covenant:
1 Samuel 17:32-36
And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.  And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.  And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:  And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.  Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
By David's statement we see the viewpoint is this is a defiance of God. It showed how they were not following the things which had been laid out, as the Gentiles should have been trying to join themselves with Israel in order to be part of the blessings which they had as a nation. This was truly a part of how they were identified:
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
We see from this passage all of the different advantages the nation of Israel, identified as the Circumcision, had over the other nations. In the sight of God, this is what was true:
Lord Jesus Christ
Aliens from the commonwealth
Covenants of promise
Strangers from the covenants
As we can we can see from this passage, it was not a good position to be among the Uncircumcision in time past. There was nothing this group had and the only way someone could have salvation and the blessings associated with it was to join themselves to the nation of Israel, meaning they would have to become part of the circumcision.
This was a very common division in the time the Bible was being written and was something which was looked at. We can see what happens at the beginning of Timothy ministering with Paul:
Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:  Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.  Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
Timothy was someone who had an understanding of things from the Scriptures, as we can see in 2 Timothy. His mother and grandmother had been teaching things to him out of the Word, which means it could only have been the things which were in existence at the time, which was Genesis through Malachi. Because individuals understood his family background (Jewish) we see the Apostle Paul taking Timothy and having him circumcised because of the Jews who were there. This was a much different thing from what we see in Galatians 2, where Titus is not circumcised and there was nothing which was going to convince them to actually perform this on him.
In the book of Acts we can see where the problem with this comes from. There are discussions related to the things which the Apostle Paul was teaching and the confusion which was resulting from these things. We see in the previous chapter what is going on with this:
And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.  And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.  And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.  But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
These individuals had a clear understanding of what had been in place prior to the Apostle Paul. They understood how an individual could only have salvation if they were part of Israel, which included the issue of circumcision. Since there was a contention present, as seen by the statement in verse 2, this is what led to the whole discussion and the events which take place in the rest of the chapter. They can clearly see something different is going on and being taught, which is something many in Christianity cannot see today, as they think Peter and Paul were preaching the exact same message. The fact that there are differences cannot be any clearer:
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
Here the Apostle Paul shows there are two different gospels which are being made a reference to. There was a gospel of the uncircumcision which was given to the Apostle Paul, which is what we see throughout his epistles, and there was a gospel of the circumcision which was given to James, Cephas (Peter), and John, which was made reference to throughout the gospel accounts and the early part of the book of Acts. These are not the same message, no matter what someone tries to say.
The issue the Apostle Paul is speaking about to the saints at Colossae is about a spiritual circumcision, which has nothing to do with the physical one which was Israel's. The reality of this, as the reason for the confusion of some, is because of the makeup of mankind:
1 Thessalonians 5:23
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We see from this passage the makeup of an individual. There are three parts to a man, a spirit, a soul, and a body. The spirit of a man is the thought process, which is where the grace of God starts working on an individual today. This is why we are told to study the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15), to have a renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1-2), and shown how the Spirit works to communicate with our spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-14). The soul of the individual is the emotional makeup. These two make up the inner man which is where things are focused in this dispensation.
The flesh is where the things which are contrary to God live, as this is where the desires to go contrary to Him exist (sin). This is there we can see how this is not where we are functioning today. We can see from other passages how the flesh/body is considered to be dead in the eyes of God:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
These three passages show how this is seen in the eyes of God. The flesh is already considered to be dead. This is why there needs to be a spiritual circumcision, as this needs to be removed from who we are, as we wait for the glorified body which we will receive after the Day of Christ.
The issue which does come up with this from our perspective is that we still walk around in a fleshly body. Even though it is considered dead in God's eyes and is not part of who we are, we still walk around in it and the body can have an influence on what we do. This is why even though the above speaks about the position we have, we need to understand some things from the practical side. We need to be able to identify how it is we are supposed to be living our life on a day to day basis in order to be pleasing unto God, which is what He intends for us.
We can see there was a struggle even the Apostle Paul had in his life with these issues we can see him write about this in the following:
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
This passage can be confusing to many people. There is a thought process regarding this passage about how Paul is speaking about himself prior to his salvation. The issue with thinking along these lines is looking at the tenses of the verbs. These are speaking about something which is going on at the moment. This is not something which had been in the past.
Paul would not have been writing to this assembly at Rome to speak about things which would not be impacting them. He is speaking about something which is a relevant struggle which he has and which he knows they would be struggling with as well. There is a struggle which goes on between the old man (sin) and the new man, who we are. This is why the issue of the spiritual circumcision is so relevant. It identifies the fact that the old man is not part of who we are in the eyes of God. While it may impact the things which we are doing on a daily basis, it is not what God sees when He looks at us. The true impact of this is what will happen we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, as the things which the old man is doing can only build the wood, hay, and stubble which will unfortunately be present.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
The Apostle Paul is speaking here about the change which has happened as a result of the identity we have. Our identity is Christ once we have believed the gospel. While we may unfortunately do some of the things which are listed in the passage above at times, we are no longer identified in this manner. This is important because if we were still identified in that manner it would mean the sin issue had not been taken care of and we would still be in danger of being separated from God for eternity.
When we speak about the issue of sin being taken care of, we have to identify which sin Paul means. There is a sin which is identified as the transgression of the law, which is what was taken care of on the cross by the Lord Jesus Christ. There is also the sin which is defined in Romans 14:23 as whatsoever is not of faith. These are the things which so against the Word of God for us. While these will not separate us from God, this is what builds the wood, hay, and stubble. These are the things which we are supposed to be avoiding.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
The Apostle Paul in this passage shows how there is a battle which does go on. We are to walk in the Spirit by following all of the doctrine which has been given to us in Romans through Philemon. This is what God has intended for us and we are to be making sure this is how we are functioning in our walk. Paul contrasts this with fulfilling the lust of the flesh. He does not say that we are walking in the flesh, which is what so many people will try to say we can do. There is nothing pleasing in the flesh and if we were able to do so we would only be able to receive condemnation. This is why God has made it impossible for us to walk (be identified) in the flesh by the spiritual circumcision which has been identified in this passage.
The next thing which is brought up is that we are buried with Him in baptism. This shows the identity we have:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
The issue with baptism is so many people automatically want to put this as water baptism. The Bible identifies at least twelve different baptisms, most of these not involving water. Matthew 3:11 speaks of three different baptisms in the same verse. It is clear that each one of these is not the same thing. Acts 2:38 shows two different baptisms, each of these were required for Israel as this is how they were going to be identified as the kingdom of priests which is part of their hope.
The Apostle Paul makes it very clear there is only one baptism which applies to the members of the Body of Christ today:
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
This passage speaks about how there is a unity which is supposed to exist for the members of the Body of Christ. Paul speaks of seven different things here which unite us, each of them being a specific item which there is only one of in this dispensation which is applicable to us. Speaking specifically of baptism, it becomes important to us to figure out which of the baptisms recorded in the Bible is the one which we are to be doing and which identifies us as part of the Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
This is the baptism which applies to us in this dispensation today. It is how we are placed into the Body of Christ the moment we believe. There is no water involved in this and we are doing no action to partake in this. It automatically happens and we would have no idea this had occurred if the Word of God did not tell us about it.
The things which we read about which happen to us in relationship to our salvation and our identity are not things which we actively do. These are things which all happen through the operation of God, which is something Paul is speaking about in this passage as well. There are some very specific things which God does for us, which it would be important for us to know, but it is not a requirement for us to know these things.
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
This prayer here shows how the Apostle Paul knows of these things and is trying to make them known unto us as well. These are not things which he could possibly have seen and we do not physically see them. We know these have occurred because they written for us and we demonstrate faith in our belief of these things. God has worked some great things in us so that we will be in a position to be able to be in the heavenly places for all eternity.
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,  If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:  How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
We can see how Paul describes himself being made a minister. This was done by the power of God. These things show how God is responsible for these things, not just sitting back and watching His creation function as some would think. God has a purpose and things in this dispensation will work out according to the purpose which was developed before the foundation of the world.
The Apostle Paul speaks about how we have been quickened. This does not mean we have been given super speed like the Flash. The following is the definition of the word (definition from Webster's 1828 Dictionary):
QUICKEN, v.t. quik'n.
1. Primarily, to make alive; to vivify; to revive or resuscitate, as from death or an inanimate state. Rom 4.
Hence flocks and herds, and men and beasts and fowls, with breath are quicken'd and attract their souls.
2. To make alive in a spiritual sense; to communicate a principle of grace to.
You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Eph 2.
3. To hasten; to accelerate; as, to quicken motion, speed or flight.
4. To sharpen; to give keener perception to; to stimulate; to incite; as, to quicken the appetite or taste; to quicken desires.
5. To revive; to cheer; to reinvigorate; to refresh by new supplies of comfort or grace. Psa 119.
QUICKEN, v.i. quik'n.
1. To become alive.
The heart is the first part that quickens, and the last that dies.
2. To move with rapidity or activity.
And keener lightning quickens in her eye.
These definitions show how the issue of quicken means to be made alive. We, who were dead in the eyes of God, have been given the gift of life. By the fact it is a gift means we did nothing to earn this life. This issue of the life we have can be seen from several passages:
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
The position of who we are in the eyes of God is dead (Colossians 3:3). This is why we have to be given life, as we are told we have eternal lie through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). The only way to get this life is to have it given to us. We could not earn it because we never could be good enough to deserve eternal life. This issue goes all the way back to the garden in Genesis 3. God made a provision for us.
Sometimes individuals struggle with this idea. Many people who are not saved think this is the only thing there is. They do not have any concept of a life after the physical death we will have, which is where this life the Apostle Paul is speaking about will occur, unless someone experiences the catching out of the saints.
The glorious thing which goes along with this provision is the fact the law has been taken out of the way. This is something which had separated mankind from God. This covenant with Israel created a major separation and was something which nobody was able to keep. It is only in this dispensation that it can be said the law has been taken out of the way and it is only the Apostle Paul which can make this statement. This is why we see this being said multiple times in Paul's epistles:
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
The law was taken out of the way and was nailed to the cross with the Lord Jesus Christ. This means it cannot have an impact on us today. Too often individuals want to put themselves under the law, as they feel they have to earn their salvation, rejecting the issue of the gift which has been given to us. There are also some who feel the law should still be there in order to give guidance to someone on how to live a good life (the issue of being saved by grace but walk right by following the law). If the law has been removed then it is truly removed. This is why the Apostle Paul speaks of the removal of the things which had separated us from God:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
The removal of the middle wall of partition allows for all of mankind to be able to have access to God. It does not guarantee the salvation of all, but allows for the possibility of salvation for all because there is now the ability to have access to God and God is dealing with all men.
This is why you see the Apostle Paul speak about the law being removed and how individuals are not under the law system today. This has been taken out of the way and individuals do not have to worry about this. The law was nailed to the cross, as the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. It is truly a blessing for us to be able to have this access to God.