Philippians  ◦   Chapter 3

1 Finally, my brothers and sisters, always rejoice in God and in all he is doing and has done. I don't mind repeating myself to you, because repetition will help you grow more quickly.

2 Keep your minds sharp and be on guard, watching out for those who have stopped thinking and have become like non-thinking animals, creatures of instinct driven by passion and lust, just like dogs. Some of these non-thinking individuals insist on circumcising the body rather than healing the mind.3 But we, who have been healed in mind, who have had the old motives of selfishness–the old survival-of-the-fittest methods–cut out of our hearts, who worship God intelligently, enlightened by his Spirit, whose characters reflect that of Christ Jesus, are the ones who are truly circumcised. We know that cutting the body is irrelevant.4 If there was anyone who could have been healed by cutting of the body, it would have been me! If any of you think you are being healed by circumcision or any other ritual, then I am way ahead of you:5 I was circumcised on the eighth day, a genetic member of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a paragon of Hebrew virtue; in regard to the rituals and rules of Judaism–I kept to the script exactly, always knowing my role, always doing precisely what the script said had to be done.6 I was so zealous to promote the rituals that I persecuted those who were taking God's true Remedy! As far as the rules and rituals were concerned, I was perfect–there was nothing more I could do for myself.

7 But how did it benefit me? I was still just as sick of heart, just as diseased of mind, and my condition was just as terminal. I gladly give up all that work (all that ritualistic, legal role-playing) for the only true Remedy, the only true cure–Jesus Christ.8 I will say even more: The fanciest delicacies, the richest treasures, the highest honors this world has to offer — they are all nothing but garbage compared to the greatest gift of all that comes from knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I give up everything this world has to offer so that I might be with Christ9and be recreated in Christlike character–not from my own efforts or attempts to cure myself, not by observing some code, but by true re-creation of mind, heart and character that God accomplishes when we trust him. And this trust is established by the evidence of God’s supreme trustworthiness provided by Christ.10 My one and only goal is to be intimately connected with Christ in heart, mind, motive, character and sympathy, to genuinely know him and be known as his friend, to experience the eradication of selfishness and the growth of the life-giving power of his love within me, to die completely to self–11 and to one day experience resurrection from the dead, and life everlasting.

12 I am not saying that I am currently perfect in every way, but I strive with all my strength to experience this fullness, this healing, this ideal state of perfect existence that Christ longs to recreate within me.13 Brothers and sisters, I have not yet experienced this perfect, total, and complete restoration, but there is one thing I can do to assist God in his plan to heal and restore: I don't lament past mistakes nor grow content with past victories; rather, I constantly push for the perfection that still lies ahead.14 I press forward, constantly toward the goal of Christlike perfection–one day to experience the ultimate prize for which God has called me heavenward–the joy of seeing him face to face.

15 All of us who have grown up into the truth of God's character and methods should understand things this way. But if someone sees things differently, keep your mind open to truth, and God will make this clear to you.16 The most important thing is not that we know all things, but that we honestly live up to what we do know.

17 Brothers and sisters, if you are unsure of what I am trying to describe to you, then model yourselves after me and practice in your lives the principles you have seen in my life. Observe those whose lives accurately reflect the character of Christ which we described to you, and learn from us.18 It saddens me to have to say this, but as I have warned you before, I warn you again: Not all who claim to be Christians are Christlike. In fact, many are Christ's worst enemies, taking his name while revealing in their characters the attributes of the evil one.19 They have refused Christ's true Remedy, and therefore their condition remains terminal; their god is self, and self-gratification is all they pursue. They are actually proud of the lewd, disgusting and shameful things they do. Their minds are focused only on things of this selfish, self-indulgent world.20 But our minds and hearts–our very citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await the return from heaven of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,21 who, by the power with which he governs the universe, will replace our diseased, defective and dying bodies with perfect, healthy, eternal bodies, just like his.