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Christ Is More Important Than Anything

3 1And now, my brothers [and sisters], be happy in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it will help you to be more ready. 2Be careful of those people who do evil. They are like dogs. They demand to cut* the body. 3But we are the people who are truly circumcised.* We worship (serve) God through his Spirit.* We are proud to be in Christ Jesus. And we don't trust in ourselves or anything we can do. 4Even if I am able to trust in myself, still I don't trust in myself. If any other person thinks that he has a reason to trust in himself, then he should know that I have a greater reason for trusting in myself. 5I was circumcised eight days after my birth. I am from the people of Israel* and the family group of Benjamin. I am a Hebrew (Jew), and my parents were Hebrews. The law [of Moses] was very important to me. That is why I became a Pharisee.* 6I was so excited [about my Jewish religion] that I persecuted* the church (the believers). No person could find fault with the way I always obeyed the law [of Moses]. 7At one time all these things were important to me. But I decided that those things are worth nothing because of Christ. 8Not only those 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 those things [I thought were important]. And now I know that all those things are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ. 9It allows me to be in Christ. In Christ I am right with God, and this being right does not come from my following the law. It comes from God through faith. God uses my faith in Christ to make me right with him. 10All I want is to know Christ and the power of his rising from death. I want to share in Christ's sufferings and become like him in his death. 11If I have those things, then I have hope that I myself will be raised from death.

Trying to Reach the Goal

12I don't mean that I am already exactly like God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach that goal and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that. That is the reason Christ made me his. 13Brothers [and sisters], I know that I have not yet reached that goal. But there is one thing I always do: I forget the things that are past. I try as hard as I can to reach the goal that is before me. 14I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize. That prize is mine because God called me through Christ to the life above. 15All of us who have grown spiritually to be mature (perfect) should think this way too. And if there is any of these things you don't agree with, God will make it clear to you. 16But we should continue following the [truth] we already have. 17Brothers [and sisters], all of you should try to live like me. And copy those people who live the way we showed you. 18Many people live like enemies of the cross of Christ. I have often told you about these people. And it makes me cry to tell you about them now. 19The way these people live is leading them to destruction. They don't serve God. Those people live only to please themselves. They do shameful things, and they are proud of those things. They think only about earthly things. 20But our homeland is in heaven. We are waiting for our Savior to come from heaven. Our Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will change our humble bodies and make them like his own glorious body. Christ can do this by his power. With that power Christ is able to rule all things.

cut The word in Greek is like the word "circumcise," but it means "to cut completely off." circumcised To have the foreskin cut off. This was a mark of the agreement God made with Abraham (Gen. 17:9-14). Paul uses the idea here in a spiritual sense of Christians who share in the new agreement God gave his people through Jesus. Spirit, Holy Spirit Also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Comforter. Joined with God and Christ, he does God's work among people in the world. Israel The Jewish nation (people). Pharisee Pharisees were a Jewish religious group that claimed to follow carefully all Jewish laws and customs. persecute(d) To hurt, bother, or do bad things to. 

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