1 Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters,* may the Lord give you joy. I never get tired of telling you this. I am doing this for your own good.1
2 Watch out for those dogs, those wicked men and their evil deeds, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved.
3 For we who worship God in the Spirit* are the only ones who are truly circumcised. We put no confidence in human effort. Instead, we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us.2
4 Yet I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
5 For I was circumcised when I was eight days old, having been born into a pure-blooded Jewish family that is a branch of the tribe of Benjamin. So I am a real Jew if there ever was one! What's more, I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.
6 And zealous? Yes, in fact, I harshly persecuted the church. And I obeyed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault.
7 I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ
9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
10 As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
11 so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be,* but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,3
14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.*4
15 I hope all of you who are mature Christians will agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.
16 But we must be sure to obey the truth we have learned already.
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.
18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.
19 Their future is eternal destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and all they think about is this life here on earth.
20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
21 He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere.
Read Philippians 4