Living free from the power of sin is what it means to be alive with Christ. So why do some believers struggle to live this truth?
When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:11-14)
If the heart of the gospel is the message that God came as Jesus Christ to sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world, why do we seem to continue to struggle with sin?
We have to be willing to look beyond our circumstances and surroundings and hear the truth that there is indeed victory in Jesus. If we find ourselves capitulating to sin – secret or not – and we claim to follow Jesus Christ, today’s passage indicates this is a disconnect.
This is only one of several verses that help us understand that as followers of Christ, we have victory over the flesh. Sin should have no more hold over us. For sin to continue to rule over us is not what it means to be alive with Christ.
What makes this passage so compelling is it makes clear that it is Christ who has completed the work to free us from sin and death. If He did it, past tense, it should be done.
Circumcision is a Sign
Circumcision was instituted as the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14). This same covenant where God promised to be the God of Abraham and his descendants, granting him Canaan as a homeland. God committed Himself to making Abraham’s descendants very fruitful, birthing many nations and kings (Genesis 17:6).
In return, God required every male descending from Abraham to be circumcised on the 8th day after their birth.
Seems like a bit of an imbalance, right? And perhaps that’s part of God’s point here. In a covenant between God and Abraham, they are far from equals. God’ lavishness in blessing is clearly on display here.
But why circumcision?
Fortunately, the Bible tells us plainly what this is about. It seems like it would be highly symbolic, but the truth is, God is literally ensuring that those who are in the promised lineage “bear the mark” of His covenant. And if any did not receive the mark, they would be “cut off” from the covenant family.
Interesting that the mark is in a way that would not be made easily visible to just anyone. It is a foreshadowing of the circumcision of the heart Paul would speak of later in Romans.
Circumcision of the Heart
Today’s passage is not the only time that Paul would speak of circumcision in a way that reflects the new covenant paid for by Christ’s blood.
Paul describes how outward circumcision does not make one a Jew, but rather, those who are obedient to God show themselves as being circumcised inwardly. This is the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:25-29).
Paul also explains that true circumcision is “not something visible in the flesh”.
As God’s covenant people through Christ, we are set apart, not by outward appearances, but by inward devotion to Christ.
To be a people of this inward circumcision is what it means to be alive with Christ. This new covenant that Christ makes possible through His death is again showing the lavishness of God. Through His unjust execution, Christ gives us eternal life. All He asks is that we put our complete trust in Him, thereby circumcising our hearts.
Without faith in Christ, we are “cut off” from the possibility of inheriting His salvation. But when our hearts are circumcised, we are His covenant people. So what is the sign of a circumcised heart?
Circumcision of our Sin
As today’s passage states, trusting in God’s mighty power and being raised to new life in Christ is what it means to be alive with Christ. When we turned to Christ in repentance, he circumcised all of our sin and removed it from our hearts.
Look at some of the language from today’s passage. Christ performed a “spiritual circumcision”. He cut away our sinful nature.
When we were without hope, lost in our sins, we were spiritually dead. Christ cut away our sinfulness, thereby cancelling our sin debt, and then nailed our sins to the cross.
Leaving our Sin Circumcised
Jesus Christ left our sins on the cross. Why won’t we leave them there? This passage makes it clear that sin is vanquished in the heart of someone who puts their faith and trust in Christ. We are to consider ourselves dead to the power of sin (Romans 6:11).
But how do we live like that? How do we wrestle with and defeat sin in our hearts?
We don’t! That’s the point – we cannot defeat what is already defeated. We can only be weak in our flesh and continue to give into the power of sin. We do still exist in a fallen world, and the temptations are still there if we relax and allow it to regain power over us.
Giving Ourselves Over to Righteousness
The way to leave our sin circumcised is not to continue to struggle with death, but to make the choice to give ourselves over to life. We must be purposeful in giving ourselves over to righteousness so that we may live in holiness (Romans 6:19). Christ sets us free from death so we may live for Him.
First, it begins with repentance. Have we truly repented of our sins? Have we accepted that we are sinners in need of a Savior? That we need Christ in our hearts because of our complete hopelessness without him?
If that is so, then perhaps the most powerful way to give ourselves over to the new life is to abide with Christ. When we devote ourselves to intimate fellowship with Christ every day through bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers, our spirits will become energized and encouraged towards holy living.
Intimacy with Christ will result in living in a deep desire to live in holiness, because we want to please God. What it means to be alive in Christ is to not only be dead to our sin, but to be alive to the power of God’s righteousness.
If you are struggling with sin in your life, please, I ask you to examine your heart and ask yourself if you have been made alive with Christ. If not, an overview of why we need Christ may be in order.
Or, perhaps you once followed Christ but you have given yourself over to sin so much that you feel hopeless again? If you are willing to repent and wish to wholeheartedly turn back to Christ, He will receive you again.
More Bible verses about what it means to be alive with Christ:
John 11:25-26; Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:16-17; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:1-10; Colossians 3:1-4;