Finally, my brothers,[a] rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God[b] and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,[c]blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Righteousness Through Faith in Christ
One of the greatest obstacles to applying the gospel to ourselves is our human tendency to depend on our own resources. In these verses Paul demolishes any dependence on human ability for righteousness. The “dogs” who “mutilate the flesh” (v. 2) are Judaizers who taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Paul lists the reasons that he himself might put “confidence in the flesh” (vv. 4–6) only to claim that these trophies are nothing but rubbish (vv. 7–8a) in comparison with the righteousness that comes from God by faith (vv. 8b–9). Rather than taking pride in his own accomplishments, Paul says he “gains” Christ by the loss of all such things. His salvation comes not from his accomplishments but from depending on nothing but the Savior’s provision. Paul aims to be found in Christ, to know him and the power of his resurrection, sharing (koinonia) in his suffering (v. 10) and his death so that he might attain (i.e., arrive at, or reach) the resurrection (v. 11). Sharing in suffering does not “earn” us the resurrection but enables us to identify more with Christ, to experience the power that gave him new life, and to understand more of the love of the Savior who had to endure immeasurable pain for his resurrection and ours.
When we take serious stock of our lives in light of the gospel, we realize that we must repent not only of our sins but also of the achievements that we would use to justify ourselves before God. But curiously and wonderfully, this descent from our pedestals identifies us with the risen Savior who gave up heaven’s honor to suffer for our sin. God’s righteousness comes by faith alone, in Christ alone (v. 9). God invites us to share, to fellowship (koinonia), not just in grace (1:7) but in Christ’s sufferings as well (3:10) in order that we might grasp the greatness of his love and the power of his resurrection hope. Can we say with Paul that we consider the achievements of our lives to be “rubbish”? In Christ, we can not only say such things but also discover that the greater wonders of the resurrection are ours no matter what we face in this life.
Life under the gospel is an utter repudiation of our own moral resume—not only the bad but also the good. Christ is all. He alone has “surpassing worth” (v. 8).
*These devos are taken from Crossway's, ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.