Hebrew baby boys went through the rite of circumcision. It signified that they were in a covenant relationship with God in which He promised to protect, guide, and bless them. And in the New Testament, Paul ‘spiritualises’ this rite. ‘True circumcision… is a change of heart produced by the Spirit.’ (Romans 2:29 NLT) Spiritually understood, circumcision means ‘cutting off’ anything that promotes and produces in us wrong impulses and actions.
Jesus said, ‘Those whose hearts are pure… will see God.’ (Matthew 5:8 NLT) When your heart is pure, you will be able to see God where others can’t and hear Him when others don’t. The word pure could be translated ‘without contamination’. It’s the difference between a clear stream and a polluted one. It means your self-centred thinking is abandoned and your carnal nature is crucified. The difference between forgiveness and cleansing is like the difference between cutting off a weed at the ground and pulling it up by its roots.
Forgiveness deals with the ‘result’ of sin—that’s easy to identify. But cleansing deals with the ‘cause’ of sin—that’s not so easy to identify because it deals with your natural traits and character flaws. Forgiveness comes by confession, but cleansing comes by walking in the light: ‘If we walk in the light, as He is in the light… the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.’ (1 John 1:7 NIV) Do you keep asking God to forgive the same sins over and over? That’s because you need to experience true cleansing. Your heart needs to be circumcised. And that’s a job for the Holy Spirit.