Christ Is More Important
1 And now, my brothers and sisters, be filled with joy in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again. I want to be sure that you are prepared.
Be careful of the dogs—those men whose work does only harm. They want to cut on everyone who isn’t circumcised.* 3
But we are the ones who have the true circumcision†
—we who worship God through his Spirit. We don’t trust in ourselves or anything we can do. We take pride only in Christ Jesus. 4
Even if I am able to trust in myself, still I don’t do it. If anyone else thinks they have a reason to trust in themselves, they should know that I have a greater reason for doing so. 5
I was circumcised on the eighth day after my birth. I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Jew, and so were my parents. The law was very important to me. That is why I became a Pharisee. 6
I was so eager to defend my religion‡
that I persecuted the church. And no one could find fault with the way I obeyed the Law of Moses.
At one time all these things were important to me. But because of Christ, I decided that they are worth nothing. 8
Not only these things, but now I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Christ, I lost all these things, and now I know that they are all worthless trash. All I want now is Christ. 9
I want to belong to him. In Christ I am right with God, but my being right does not come from following the law. It comes from God through faith. God uses my faith in§
Christ to make me right with him. 10
All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him from death. I want to share in his sufferings and be like him even in his death. 11
Then there is hope that I myself will somehow be raised from death.
Trying to Reach the Goal
12 I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. 13 Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. 14 I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven.
15 All of us who have grown to be spiritually mature should think this way too. And if there is any of this that you don’t agree with, God will make it clear to you. 16 But we should continue following the truth we already have.
17 Brothers and sisters, join together in following my example. Also, learn by watching those who are living the way we showed you. 18 There are many who live like enemies of the cross of Christ. I have often told you about them. And it makes me cry to tell you about them now. 19 The way they live is leading them to destruction. They have replaced God with their own desires. They do shameful things, and they are proud of what they do. They think only about earthly things. 20 But the government that rules us is in heaven. We are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from there. 21 He will change our humble bodies and make them like his own glorious body. Christ can do this by his power, with which he is able to rule everything.