Warning Against Confidence in the Flesh
Verse 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.
As a safeguard, Paul revives the basics with these believers. The Bible is the Christians’s standard, and when we read it, it alerts us to corrections we need to make in our thoughts, attitude, and actions.
Verse 2 – Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
Dogs were held as unclean, and to call a person a dog was a much a stronger expression of contempt. The Jews called the pagans dogs, and the Muslims call Jews and Christians by the same name.
Then Paul tells them to beware of evil workers. This no doubt is the Jewish teachers whose doctrines influence those to do evil.
The mutilation, refers to the cutting of the flesh on the Gentiles to make them Jews, rather than relying on God’s grace to become Christians.
Verse 3 – For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
Verse 4 – though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
Verse 5 – circumcised the eight-day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law a Pharisee;
Paul was saying that he had every right to place confidence in the flesh as these others were doing, because of his qualifications of being circumcised. However, it was only heredity, as these Jews thought they were entitled, to be privileged to God.
Verse 6 – concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Verse 7 – But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
When Paul speaks of gain, he was referring to his credentials as a Jew. After showing he could beat the Judaizers at their own game (being proud of who they were and what they had done), Paul showed that it was the wrong game.
We should be very careful of considering past achievements so important that they get in the way of our relationship with Christ. It will make you highly judgmental of other Christians.
Verse 8 – But 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,
After Paul considered every accomplishment in his life, he said that it was all rubbish, loss, when compared to the greatness of knowing Christ.
There is not one possession on this earth that we have gained compared to our relationship we have with Christ! To know Christ would be every Christian’s goal.
Verse 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,
The only way that righteousness comes to the believer is through faith in Jesus Christ!
Verse 10 – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
Verse 11 – if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from he dead.
That I may know Him – that I may fully be acquainted with His nature, character, His work, and with the salvation He has worked out in us.
And the power of His resurrection – to understand the hope of immortality, in sustaining the spirit and soul in death. By Christ raising from the dead, it makes certain our future state.
That same resurrection power lives in each believer.
Verse 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.
Paul did not regard himself as a perfect man and he had not reached the state where he was free from sin. However, we as Paul did, press on. We don’t stop being a Christian just because of failure at times.
Verse 13 – Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which were behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
Verse 14 – I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul had good reason to forget what was behind, as we all do. Because our hope is in Christ, we let go of the guilt from our past and look forward to what God will help us become. This includes letting go of past hurts that have been done to us also.
Verse 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.
For those who have been truly converted, God by His Holy Spirit will correct, guide, and teach, until we have an understanding of divine things.
Verse 16 – Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule; let us be of the same mind.
Christian maturity is acting on the guidance we have already received. The instructions for us is to live up to what we already know and live out what we have already learned.
Verse 17 – Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
Paul knew he wasn’t perfect, but for him to tell people to follow his example, was a great testimony to his character. Can we do the same? What kind of follower would a new Christian become if he or she imitated you or me?
Verse 18 – For many walk, of whom I have told you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Verse 19 – whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.
These false teachers were inflated with their own spiritual abilities, rather than trusting Christ. Then Paul describes them: First, their eternal judgment. Second, their belly which reflects the Jewish dietary laws. Third, their glory is in their shame meaning, focusing inappropriately on circumcision. Fourth, they were unable to see beyond the present.
Verse 20 – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Verse 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.
The bodies that Christians will have when raised form the dead will be like Christ’s resurrected body. No pain, no physical limitations, or disabilities.