I could, of course, put my trust in such things. If any of you think you can trust in external ceremonies, I have even more reason to feel that way.
I was circumcised when I was a week old. I am an Israelite by birth, of the tribe of Benjamin, a pure-blooded Hebrew. As far as keeping the Jewish Law is concerned, I was a Pharisee, 1
and I was so zealous that I persecuted the church. As far as a person can be righteous by obeying the commands of the Law, I was without fault. 2
But all those things that I might count as profit I now reckon as loss for Christ's sake.
Not only those things; I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere garbage, so that I may gain Christ
and be completely united with him. I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.
All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death,
in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life.
I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself.
Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead.
So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above.