The Operation of God
The odds are extremely high that at some point in our lives we will need an operation/surgery. It might be something minor that is not very invasive, or it may be something major that requires extensive procedures. Either way, we are accustomed to the process. With that being said, did you know that God was a “surgeon”? You might think that I am being playful, but I am very serious.
In the letter to the church at Colossae, Paul wrote, “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 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” (Col. 2:10-12). There are two references in that segment of Scripture that indeed indicates that God performs “surgery”.
First of all, there is “the circumcision made without hands”. For the Bible student, the issue of circumcision should be well known. Physical circumcision has been around since the time of Abraham. This process is described in the following verses: “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” (Gen. 17:10-14).
Today, physical circumcision is not required under the Law of Christ. “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6). However, “the circumcision made without hands” is something that accountable individuals must receive in order to be saved. Man is not able to perform this “circumcision” on his own. Only God can remove the “body of the sins of the flesh”. The way that this occurs is when we are “Buried with him in baptism” (Col. 2:12). Through the process of baptism, we go down into the water with all of our sins, and we arise having had those sins washed by the blood of Jesus (Acts 22:16; Eph. 1:7). We do not physically witness this “operation”, but by faith we are confident that the “procedure” takes place. Through His wondrous ability, God “circumcises the body of the sins of the flesh” from our souls.
The second surgical reference is found by examining “the operation of God”. This is closely connected to “the circumcision made without hands”. Both of these references require man’s submission to baptism. By being baptized, we bury the old man of sin and rise a new creature. This is symbolically similar to how Jesus physically died on the cross, was buried in a tomb, and was resurrected with new life. Paul put it this way: “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” (Rom. 6:3-6). In other words, baptism is the means by which we rise with new life.
Just as we are confident that God raised Jesus from the dead, we can be equally as confident that the “operation” is successful when we rise by being baptized. I am grateful that God is such a “skilled surgeon”. Without His ability, I would have no hope of living a life free from sin.
~ Corey Barnette