The Flesh Or Self Principle~In The Mind
It is found in the mind. It makes use of our intellect and our reason in order to overpower opposition and bring things our way, to argue and to substantiate our own position.
And therefore, before you and I can ever get into the true realm of heavenly things, we have got to have a “circumcised” intellect, reason, mind.
Is that not exactly what the Lord was saying to Nicodemus?
Here is this teacher of Israel, coming to argue, to discuss, and the Lord says, “It is no use.
You may have been circumcised in the flesh as a good Jew, but what you need is to have your intellect circumcised”.
Except a man be born anew, he cannot SEE…
You have got it all in the mind, all as an intellectual apprehension.
If I have spoken of earthly things, and you do not understand them, where will you be if I begin to talk to you about heavenly things?
Out of your depth altogether!
Devout son of Abraham though you may be, you need to experience a radical severance between your natural mind and the things of Heaven.
That is the trouble with many people. It is their head that is in the way all the time - the one thing that is obstructing their progress is their own head!
Their stubborn-mindedness, or their clever-mindedness; their intellectual superiority, or their argumentative disposition: you meet it all the time...there is no way through.
If you try to take them on that line you are simply beating your own head against a wall.
The Lord Jesus never attempted such an approach in trying to win souls. He simply said: “You must be born from above”.
~T. Austin Sparks~
The Flesh, or Self-Principle~In The Feelings
In other cases the circumcision needs to take place in the realm of the feelings, the emotions, the desires.
That is the part of the being that gets in the way of so many people.
They are controlled entirely by the feeling-life, the affection-life...
They are in bondage to that part of their being; and they are very difficult people to handle.
But a true child of Heaven, the seed of His travail, is one in whom there has taken place, in that very realm of the feelings and desires, a deep work of circumcision.
~T. Austin Sparks~
And what is true of the intellect and the emotions is true in the realm of the will.
With many people it is their will that is in the way.
They have got a position, and they tenaciously hold to it and support it; they have got a grip, and they just cannot let go.
They will support their position with Scripture, or even with a “revelation” superior to Scripture!
Their will is the cause of all the trouble.
The cause of the setting back of all God’s purposes in their lives is just there: in their choices, their decisions, their position, their way; in their natural self-strength, that has never been broken.
And so it is just there that circumcision must take place.
It applies in so many other ways. The cross, as the instrument of spiritual circumcision, has to be applied to this self-life deeper and ever more deeply, because there seems to be no end to it.
But that is the painful side, the dark side.
What is happening on the other side? Is it not that room is being made for Christ?
The real seed, the seed of Christ, is growing, becoming more and more manifest.
The opposite of the characteristics which we have been considering - strength of intellect or emotion or will - is meekness.
He said: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29).
Pursue this right through, and you cannot fail to recognize that there was something radically different in the very depths of His being.
I have said that we cannot calculate the whole range of this self-principle, in its myriad forms of self-expression and self-occupation and self-attention and self-pity and self-consciousness and self-satisfaction.
Even in our Christian life, in our devotion to the LORD, we are so happy that other people see how devoted we are, and how humble we are!
And it is the self, the wretched...may I use the word? the stinking self, coming up all the time.
For a true child of God is oblivious of himself, has lost consciousness of himself in every way.
If other people point out something good about them, they had not realized it, they were not aware of it.
They are surprised that anyone could say anything good about them; they are not conscious of that.
And on the other side, should people be critical and point out failings, well, they only say, “Yes, I know: I had that out with the LORD”, or “I have got that before the LORD right now."
I am not deceiving myself about that. This is the true child of Heaven.
So we could go on. That is the meaning of circumcision.
In the light of that, the true meaning, the true principle, think of a Pharisee - a child of Abraham - saying: “I am better than anyone else”, or making long prayers for everybody to see and to hear!
A child of ABRAHAM! You remember all that the LORD said about them.
Oh, they have missed the point! Ah, but do not let us criticize and blame.
It is a very searching thing for ourselves, is it not?
Paul says that circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but a new creation.
True circumcision is not of the flesh, but of the heart.
The LORD give us circumcised hearts, and give us grace to have this severance pursued to finality.
~T. Austin Sparks~