Do Not Trust in Who You Are or What You Can Do
1Further, my brothers and sisters, be joyful because you belong to the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write about some important matters to you again. If you know about them, you will have a safe path to follow. 2Watch out for those dogs. They are people who do evil things. When they circumcise, it is nothing more than a useless cutting of the body. 3But we have been truly circumcised. We serve God by the power of his Spirit. We boast about what Christ Jesus has done. We don’t put our trust in who we are or what we can do. 4I have many reasons to trust in who I am and what I have done. Someone else may think they have reasons to trust in these things. But I have even more.
5I was circumcised on the eighth day. I am part of the people of Israel. I am from the tribe of Benjamin. I am a pure Hebrew. As far as the law is concerned, I am a Pharisee. 6As far as being committed is concerned, I opposed and attacked the church. As far as keeping the law is concerned, I kept it perfectly.
7I thought things like that were really something great. But now I consider them to be nothing because of Christ. 8Even more, I consider everything to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. To know him is worth much more than anything else. Because of him I have lost everything. But I consider all of it to be garbage so I can know Christ better. 9I want to be joined to him. Being right with God does not come from my obeying the law. It comes because I believe in Christ. It comes from God because of faith. 10I want to know Christ better. Yes, I want to know the power that raised him from the dead. I want to join him in his sufferings. I want to become like him by sharing in his death. 11Then by God’s grace I will rise from the dead.
12I have not yet received all these things. I have not yet reached my goal. Christ Jesus took hold of me so that I could reach that goal. So I keep pushing myself forward to reach it. 13Brothers and sisters, I don’t consider that I have taken hold of it yet. But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. 14I push myself forward toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself.
Following Paul’s Example
15So all of us who are grown up in the faith should see things this way. Maybe you think differently about something. But God will make it clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already reached.
17Brothers and sisters, join together in following my example. You have us as a model. So pay close attention to those who live as we do. 18I have told you these things many times before. Now I tell you again with tears in my eyes. Many people live like enemies of the cross of Christ. 19The only thing they have coming to them is death. Their stomach is their god. They brag about what they should be ashamed of. They think only about earthly things. 20But we are citizens of heaven. And we can hardly wait for a Savior from there. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He has the power to bring everything under his control. By his power he will change our earthly bodies. They will become like his glorious body.