Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters,[a] rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
2 Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God[b] are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, 4 though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.[c] For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death.
I was a member of the Pharisees who demanded the strictest obedience to the law- of myself. Although my actions seemed honorable, I tried to obey His commandments…. my hearts motivation was completely wrong. Essentially, what I was really doing was attempting to manipulate God into believing that I loved Him, so He would bless me. I was a Christian in name only, for my will had absolutely no intention of being crucified with Christ.
I, like Paul, once thought obeying the law was valuable. But when I began to encounter God in a supernatural way, I realized that everything- everything I had attempted to do, in my own strength, was absolute garbage. Love. God’s love is the key to knowing Christ.
My love for Christ began to blossom when I started to regularly read God’s Word, worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, and communicate with Him any time, any place, about any thing. One aspect of my prayer life that has absolutely revolutionized my relationship with Jesus is simply this: I ask Him, “Lord…I need you…please show me where you are….” (Remember, God is omnipresent, so He is always with us- whether we realize it or not). When I can see him (by the Spirit), my heart is overwhelmed with love for the One who gave His life for me. If I’m angry, frustrated, burdened, worried, scared, hurt, feeling lonely, betrayed, inadequate, unloved….I can run to Him, and He will gather me up in His arms each and every time. As I stay with Him, He’ll whisper words of love, identity and purpose to me. Sometimes He’ll even rebuke me- but it is always, always for my good. In His arms I am free to forgive and be forgiven. In His embrace I find shelter from the storms of life and promises for tomorrow. In the shadow of His wings, I fear Him alone.
Then, a miraculous exchange occurs: He tells me how to love Him
15 “If you love me, obey[a] my commandments.
and my heart melts, wanting nothing else than to surrender my will to His. And in that moment, I become righteous through faith in the One who loved me so much, that He surrendered His will to the Father to give His life for me.