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By Curtis Pugh

            Those familiar with the care of domestic animals understand the term “shut up.” Chickens are usually shut up for the night. Cattle and horses are often shut up in pens or stalls. The Psalmist used that term in speaking of his miserable condition. He wrote: “...I am shut up, and I cannot come forth,” (Psalm 88:8). Just prior to that he wrote in verse seven: “Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.” Selah is a musical term meaning pause and think about it. Are you aware of God's impending wrath lying hard upon you? Are you thinking about it?

            Have you ever had a similar experience to that of the Psalmist? Have you ever been imprisoned, as it were: imprisoned without hope? Has God ever made you aware of your sinful condition? Has terror seized upon your soul? Job went through such a time. He wrote: “For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure,” (Job 31:23). Do the words of Isaiah fit your case? “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word...” (Isaiah 66:5). Or are you still trying to sort things out on your own? Worse yet, are you still filled with self-confidence thinking you can somehow please God and earn enough favor with God to result in your salvation? Are you still caught up in the false hope that your good deeds, your obedience, your baptism, your sincerity, etc. will somehow placate God?

            There is a work that only God does. It is called circumcision of the heart. Paul wrote: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God,” (Romans 2:28-29). Want praise of God? Then you must have a spiritual, inward heart circumcision. You cannot operate upon your own heart. You cannot do this work “in the spirit” or inner man. You are “shut up” and can do nothing about your condition. If God does not come to you and change your heart – if He does not birth you into His family you shall remain an unbeliever and shall die in your sins. The Lord Jesus taught that very thing, saying: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” (John 8:24).

            There are a great many things the circumcised heart produces. It first of all produces godly sorrow over your sin. Paul wrote: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death,” (2 Corinthians 7:10). This kind of sorrow does not produce a mere outward show of weeping as a result of some emotional manipulation at the hands of a clever preacher. Godly sorrow produces or “worketh” repentance – a penitent turning to God and its twin which is faith in Chris, as Paul said, “...repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Acts 20:21). This along with a continuing change of life are the products of heart-circumcision.

            A profession of faith in Christ apart from the circumcision of the heart is just man made religion and is worthless. Paul wrote about this kind of religion saying, “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh,” (Colossians 2:20-23). Paul questioned why those who have experienced heart-circumcision would put themselves back under the Old Testament Law for righteousness. He includes the worthless commandments and doctrines of men as having no place in the lives of those with circumcised hearts. All laws, rules, commandments of men, etc. can ever accomplish is a show of wisdom. All they can produce he calls “will worship.” By that last term he means worthless religion produced by the will of men – never acceptable to God. Oh these will produce a false humility and a neglecting of the body as it seeks comfort and pleasure, but no false religion will accomplish anything worthwhile in combating the flesh (sin nature) with which all of us are born.

            You cannot circumcise your heart. Your church cannot circumcise your heart. Your baptism cannot circumcise your heart. Your prayers cannot circumcise your heart. Your fear of hell cannot circumcise your heart. Your will cannot circumcise your heart. Your religious rituals cannot circumcise your heart. Your outward attempts at obedience cannot circumcise your heart. You are shut up – if you only knew it – to this fact: if God does not come to you and do a work in your heart you will remain an unbeliever and “shall die in your sins.” May the Words of God sink deep down in your heart so that you cannot escape them! May you be like Lydia, “...whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul,” (Acts 16:14). May you see that you are “shut up” and that you “cannot come forth.” May you be miserable in this imprisonment as you see that you are between a rock and a hard place! May you tremble at God's Word! May God come to you and circumcise your heart!


Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726

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