1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;
6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Our lifelong quest should be to know God more as Paul admonished in verse 10. Knowing of God and KNOWING God are 2 very different things.
The other thing that I saw was in verse 18, my translation reads, “For many are walking in such a way that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.” Lord, help us! I don’t want to be walking as an enemy of the cross, I want to be found a faithful servant, walking by the spirit and ever pushing further into the knowledge of God.
As we are living in and occupying a body of flesh that is required on this earth, it is not from this body that direction for eternal life can come. Its qualifying and disqualifying considerations are continually pressing to influence our actions and focus. Anything that can be done to the body in adjusting its appearance, removing or adding to it, can in no way improve the status of standing in Christ. No amount of religious activity that is done in the flesh can become the basis for confidence in the presence of the Lord. Even acquiring information and revelation from extended times of fasting and prayer cannot establish a place in Him that is only found in the abandonment of any fleshly reliance. Paul considers all things he has done in the flesh to be nothing compared to truly knowing Christ through the greatest of challenges to the flesh. It’s not that what we do is not transformed through relationship with Christ, it’s just that the outward change is generated from and preceded by an inward knowing that has no dependence on the flesh.
The way to a life that seems to be so opposite of what we are naturally programmed for is the setting of hope and alignment of passions on things that are beyond this life altogether. What we’ve been given in Christ will bring triumph over circumstances in this life as those things become less and less influential over choices made and emotional states. Knowing that a world of fleshly dominance will soon give way to an eternal one in the spirit causes the true perspective of priorities to be adjusted for a gratified heart independent of any fleshly requirement.