Being Acceptable to God
1Finally, my dear friends, be glad that you belong to the Lord. It doesn't bother me to write the same things to you that I have written before. In fact, it is for your own good.
2Watch out for those people who behave like dogs! They are evil and want to do more than just circumcise you. 3But we are the ones who are truly circumcised, because we worship by the power of God's Spirit and take pride in Christ Jesus. We don't brag about what we have done, 4although I could. Others may brag about themselves, but I have more reason to brag than anyone else. 5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old, and I am from the nation of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Hebrew. As a Pharisee, I strictly obeyed the Law of Moses. 6 And I was so eager I even made trouble for the church. I did everything the Law demands in order to please God.
7But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. 8Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ 9and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. 10All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, 11so that somehow I also may be raised to life.
Running toward the Goal
12I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. 13My friends, I don't feel I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. 14I run toward the goal, so I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. 15All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you. 16But we must keep going in the direction that we are now headed.
17 My friends, I want you to follow my example and learn from others who closely follow the example we set for you. 18I often warned you that many people are living as enemies of the cross of Christ. And now with tears in my eyes, I warn you again 19that they are headed for hell! They worship their stomachs and brag about the disgusting things they do. All they can think about are the things of this world.
20But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ 21 has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body.