Christ is more important than anything
1 Now, my Christian friends, I want to say this to you. You belong to the Lord, so be happy! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again. And it will help to keep you safe.
2 Be very careful! Some people are teaching bad things. They say that you must cut your bodies. They are like dangerous dogs. Do not believe them! 3 But we are truly God's people. And it is not because someone has circumcised us. It is God's own Spirit that leads us to worship God. We thank God because of what Christ Jesus has done for us. We know that it is not human ideas that can save us.
3:3If we believe in Christ, we become God's people because Christ died on our behalf. God gives us his Holy Spirit to lead us. So we have something much better than a mark on our bodies. Some false teachers were saying that Christians had to be circumcised. They said, ‘Unless you cut yourselves, like the Jewish rules teach, you cannot really be God's people.’ Paul is telling the Christians that they must not believe these bad people.
4 For myself, I could have trusted those human ideas. Perhaps somebody may think that they could trust in those things to save them. Then I would have an even better reason to trust in them. 5 I belong to Israel's people, to Benjamin's family group. I am a true Jew. They circumcised me when I was eight days old. I was a Pharisee, and I obeyed the Jewish rules very carefully. 6 I tried very much to please God. So I caused a lot of trouble and pain for the Christians. I obeyed the rules of God's Law, and nobody could say that I did anything wrong.
7 All those ideas seemed very important to me then. But now they are worth nothing to me, because I trust in Christ. 8 Yes, now that I know Christ Jesus as my Lord, that is the most valuable thing. Nothing else is important at all. I have thrown everything else away, so that I can serve Christ. All those other things are like dirt to me. I think about them like that, so that I can have Christ. 9 I want to be united with him. Because I believe in Christ, God accepts me as right with him. I know that I cannot become right in any other way, even if I obey all of God's Law. When I trust in Christ, God accepts me as right because of my faith.
10 Yes, I want to know Christ better and better. I want to know the power which God showed when Christ rose from death. I want to have the same kind of troubles that he did. I want to obey God like he did in his death. 11 Then I hope that I also will become alive again after death.
Christians do not belong to this world
12 I am not saying that I have already reached that place in my life. I have not yet completely become the person that God wants me to be. But I am trying very hard to reach that place. That was Christ's purpose when he first made me his own. 13 My Christian friends, I do not think that I have reached that place yet. But this is what I do: I do not think about past things that have already happened. Instead, I try hard to reach the things that are in front of me. 14 I am like a runner who wants to reach the end of the race. I run straight towards that place, so that I can win God's gift. Because I belong to Christ Jesus, God has called me to live with him in heaven. That is God's gift to me at the end of the race.
15 All of us should agree to live like that, if we properly understand God's message. If you think differently about these things, God will show you clearly what is right. 16 But we should continue to live in the way that we already know is right.
17 My Christian friends, you should try to live in the way that I do. Carefully watch other people who live like that. We have shown you what is right. 18 Many people live in a way that shows they do not agree with God's message. I have told you about these people many times before. And now I am crying when I tell you about them. I am very sad, because they speak against Christ's death on the cross. 19 In the end, God will destroy them. Their stomach is what they worship. They are proud of things that should make them ashamed. Their thoughts are full of things that belong to this world. 20 But as for us, the home where we belong is in heaven. We are waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ to come from there. He is the one who will come from heaven and save us. 21 He will change these weak bodies that we have now on this earth. He will make them become strong and beautiful, like his own body that he has in heaven. Christ will use his great power to do this. That is the power that he uses to rule over everything.