Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 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: 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; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 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— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Paul’s life’s work was to go around sharing the good news of Jesus: the forgiveness of sins and the love of God. He would proclaim the gospel everywhere he went and people would become Christians. However, at the time there were Jewish teachers who would go into the churches and mislead the people with non-gospel-based teachings. They would use the Old Testament laws as a badge of pride and look down on others, rather than honouring Jesus.In this passage, Paul is turning on them, saying they are the ones to be looked down on. He wants the people to see that they are not accepted through works or religious ‘badges’, like circumcision, but through Jesus, plus nothing else! Anything that isn’t Christ will never save or satisfy you. Religion tells us that we have to earn God’s love and forgiveness but the gospel says that because Jesus died we don’t have to do anything. His freedom, grace and love is a gift.The western mindset tends to be that religion is a bad thing and it leads to disagreements and problems within society. But, even when we get rid of religion, people still have extreme behaviours and views. This happens because everybody wants to feel that their life has purpose and meaning in one way or another. We need something to stand for and to believe in. But when we make something the goal of our life, it has power over us. This can motivate us but can also bring us to a point of despair. We will never find true fulfilment in anything other than Jesus.There is nothing better than a relationship with God, that is where we find our joy. Other gods don’t forgive you and give you eternal life, only Jesus. We don’t have to do anything, we don’t have to prove ourselves or earn our place because He’s done it all. He took our place and lived the perfect life and now we can live with freedom and joy.