The Goal of Life
1Finally, my fellow believers, continue to rejoice and delight in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you.
2Look out for the dogs [the Judaizers, the legalists], look out for the troublemakers, look out for the false circumcision [those who claim circumcision is necessary for salvation]; 3for we [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, set apart for His purpose and] are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory and take pride and exult in Christ Jesus and place no confidence [in what we have or who we are] in the flesh— 4though I myself might have [some grounds for] confidence in the flesh [if I were pursuing salvation by works]. If anyone else thinks that he has reason to be confident in the flesh [that is, in his own efforts to achieve salvation], I have far more: 5circumcised when I was eight days old, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews [an exemplary Hebrew]; as to the [observance of the] Law, a Pharisee; 6as to my zeal [for Jewish tradition], a persecutor of the church; and as to righteousness [supposed right living] which [my fellow Jews believe] is in the Law, I proved myself blameless.
7But whatever former things were gains to me [as I thought then], these things [once regarded as advancements in merit] I have come to consider as loss [absolutely worthless] for the sake of Christ [and the purpose which He has given my life]. 8But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ, 9and may be found in Him [believing and relying on Him], not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law and its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. 10And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; 11so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.
17Brothers and sisters, together follow my example and observe those who live by the pattern we gave you. 18For there are many, of whom I have often told you, and now tell you even with tears, who live as enemies of the cross of Christ [rejecting and opposing His way of salvation], 19whose fate is destruction, whose god is their belly [their worldly appetite, their sensuality, their vanity], and whose glory is in their shame—who focus their mind on earthly and temporal things. 20But [we are different, because] our citizenship is in heaven. And from there we eagerly await [the coming of] the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21who, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself, will [not only] transform [but completely refashion] our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious resurrected body.