Paul speaks of this in the New Testament when the Judaizers discourage the church by getting caught up in the law & add requirements such as circumcision, to salvation, even though they were under the new law, and freedom in Christ. (Galatians ch. 5)
Galatians 5:6 NIV "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. "
Obviously this is in the Old Testament and the Israelites must live under the law in obedience to God, and circumcision was required and representative of being a clean people & being "set apart". But God makes a point here, that even though His people are physically circumcised, they are not obedient to Him - they are idolatrous & sinful, and not circumcised, or obedient in their actions. So the physical circumcision means nothing.
In the New Testament, the Jews were still hung up on the gentiles not being circumcised, but the Jews were not accepting Christ's death, burial & resurrection as their salvation and relying on their 'physical works". I think of today, folks rely on their "religion" & traditions instead of accepting Jesus in their hearts. Or even Christians who go to church but deny the power of the Holy Spirit to fill them and spill out into the world in the form of love, service, obedience, & witnessing the Good News.
The curcumcision represented commitment, obedience, and a heart change. Without that, it was an empty tradition.
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