Letter to a friend:
I’m not sure what you mean by the surgery analogy for coming to see who we are. The Bible really says that we have been circumcised, and the body of the sins of our flesh has been put off by the circumcision of Christ. The analogy there in Col. 2:11 is the body death of Christ, wherein we are crucified with him. So we didn’t need surgery, but death, burial, and resurrection in Christ, wherein we are made wholly new creatures. No surgery there.
So what feels like surgery to us is actually the slow dawning upon us that the old self we thought we still were as Christians has been a lie (not a lie when we were lost). Pain over ourselves gets swallowed up in the ecstasy of Christ and the new self created by Him. This really is the new birth, not what most Christians think the new birth is; for what most Christians think of as the new birth is conception and growth in the womb. In one sense, it is a new birth, but we don’t call a new creature born until it comes out of the womb into the new world.
Think of a newborn baby in the natural world; it has lived in the womb and never seen or experienced the world that the mother will birth it into. No wonder a baby wants to stay in the warmth and symbiosis of pregnancy, and so do we as Christians. That, however, would keep us from seeing the new world, and Jesus said that those born again see the kingdom of God. Knowing about the kingdom of God is not the same as seeing the kingdom of God: when you see the new kingdom, you know it.
This is why wondered, in 1994 when the Holy Spirit said to me, “You have just been born again,” if I had not been a Christian before that time. The Lord quickly showed me that I had been saved but had carnally wanted to stay in the womb too long. We must see the new world, and only then do we know our king as not a king of this world, but a whole new world as he said. He only visited this world in the incarnation to lead us back to a new world as new born in Him, He being the firstborn from the dead.
Just as Adam caused us to fall into a lost world of living by the flesh in the slavery of the devil, the last Adam, Jesus, takes us into a new and heavenly world in as His slaves, leading us captive right on up to the heavenly places, where we experience heavenly life now, even while in these fallen bodies. We’re here in the world but no longer of it; we’re here as intercessors. Soon, we’ll be clothed bodily in the same vestiges that now adorn our spirits and quicken our flesh according to Romans 8.
But as I say, my whole point here is that surgery is not the biblical image, for that keeps the lie alive that we only need change or reform of the self, whereas the Scripture says that the penalty of sin is death, and so Jesus had to die not only to forgive our sins, but He had to execute us in a way that could lead to our new birth.
Thus He put us into Christ in His death so that we could die and be reborn and see the kingdom of God—not see it as a refurbishment of this old dying and sick realm, but as the throne and crystal sea that we live in even now.