Deuteronomy 30:6—Does God circumcise the heart or was Israel to circumcise their own hearts?

Problem: According to this verse, “the Lord your God will circumcise your heart.” However, earlier in the same book Moses called on Israel to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer” (Deut. 10:16). But how can we have it both ways?

Solution: The truth is that there is both an active and passive role for humans in salvation. We are active in receiving the gift, but we were not active in the giving of the gift. We actively submit our hearts to God, but we are not active in saving our own hearts. In short, while we are active in receiving or accepting salvation, we had absolutely nothing to do with providing or accomplishing salvation. Even though the one rescued is active in receiving the lifeline, nonetheless, he is passive in being rescued by the rescuer who pulls in the rope. Likewise, we actively submit to the life-saving operation, but we are passive in receiving the physician’s skillful surgery that saves our life. The situation can be summarized as follows:

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.