Jesus gives us victory in sin*s forgiveness. Colossians 2:11 says, “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.” Under the old dispensation, the covenant mark was the circumcision of every male member. This was a physical, outward sign that the male belonged to the Abrahamic covenant. But under the New Testament there was to be a new circumcision not made with hands. This was to affect the hearts of all members. The word circumcision literally means * a cutting round or off, and when used figuratively, it refers to the separation of a person*s sins from one*s life by his obedience. When is this spiritual operation completed? “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. 2:12). The final act of the spiritual circumcision is by baptism, and men are said to be buried with Christ. This phrase is used because in baptism, the person is placed under the water and then raised again, thus going down and up in the form of a burial and resurrection. It is said to be with Him because He commands it, and also because He died and was buried and rose again. It was impossible for the Colossians to “walk in a new life having received Christ” until they had been buried. If such was true then, it certainly remains true for us now. How can we walk in a new life until we have died and have been buried with Christ? Should one be honest enough to sit down with Colossians 2:8-13 and read these verses without thinking of any pre-conceived ideas regarding how one is raised with Christ, the plain pattern of New Testament salvation would be unmistakable.
Under the Old covenant, the physical outward sign of the covenant was circumcision of the male. It was external surgery. It affected only a part of the body. It was done with hands and sin was not completely conquered. But under the New Testament, there was to be a new circumcision. It is internal surgery to the heart of man. It removes the whole body of sin. It is done without hands, and it enables us to be forgiven from our trespasses. He calls this the operation of God. God removes our sin, quickens us or makes us alive and forgives us. When does this operation of God occur? When does the circumcision of Christ happen? It occurs when we are buried with the Lord in the waters of baptism. When we are risen with the Lord, God*s operation has occurred.
The Greek aorist tense here puts the burial contemporaneous with the circumcision. Ye were circumcised when ye were buried. Notice this argument on when we are forgiven. (1) If the burial is contemporaneous with the circumcision, (2) and the circumcision is simultaneous with putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, (3) then the moment at which one is buried with Christ in baptism is the very moment when one*s sins are severed from one*s soul. The power is not in the water, but in God and the blood of His Son. Baptism will not remit sins by water, only by the blood of Christ. One is to be baptized in faith that the same God, who operated in power to raise Jesus from the dead, will likewise operate through the power of His Son*s blood to raise the spiritually dead from a watery grace of baptism to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
Colossians 2:13 then says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Death means a separation, and as long as these people were living in their sins, they were separated from God and were dead to him. They likewise were uncircumcised at that time since their sins had not been cut off. To be “quickened” means to be made alive, or to have the condition of death reversed by obedience to the gospel. “With him” means with Christ, which was done when they were buried “with Him” in baptism. When all of this was done, God forgave them their trespasses. Through Christ, this victory over sin is made possible. Only a gracious God has the right to forgive sins and this He is willing to do for those who hear the gospel, believe in Christ, repent of their sins, confess their faith and are baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Is. 43:25).
Several years ago, a businessman found out about an elderly widow who was unable to pay her rent. Feeling pity for her, he went to some of his friends and asked them if they would be kind enough to contribute something to help pay her rent. They responded, and he got two months’ rent. He went to the widow’s house that week to deliver the money. Although he knew she was inside, when he knocked he got no answer. He knocked a second time and still no answer. He knocked a third time, still no answer. He knocked a fourth time. Not knowing what else to do, he returned to his business. A couple of days later, he saw her downtown on the sidewalk looking destitute. He walked up to her and said, “Ma’am, some friends of mine and I found out about your situation. We want to help. We got enough money together to give you rent money for two months. I came to your house to give it to you this week, but I knocked several times and got no answer.” She took a gasp of breath and put her hand to her face. She said, “Oh, I thought you were the landlord coming to evict me.” How many people turn a deaf ear to an opportunity to take care of the greatest debt of all, their sin debt? Will we turn a deaf ear to forgiveness?
Sometimes when we are preparing to bury that old man of sin in the waters of baptism, the song leader will get up and lead a song or two. I don*t think it appears in our songbook, but there is a song in several hymnbooks under the title, “Did you repent?” The song asks, “did you repent, fully repent of your past sins, friend; when you confessed his name on high? Another part of the song says, “did you obey what He commanded?” The song finally asks, “Did you repent all the way through?” And the man who led this song while a person was preparing to be baptized probably didn*t give much thought to the negative impact that the song could have on a person, but those who did got tickled. There is another song that is often sung following a baptism which has the same title as this article, “Victory In Jesus.” Will you not claim that victory today?
— Mike McDaniel