Only Jesus


How have you been tempted to put your confidence in the family you grew up in, the schools you attended, your achievements at work, or even in all the good activities and accomplishments in your life? Paul had quite an impressive resume by the standards of Hebrew culture in his day, but ultimately he knew that following Christ was the only thing that counted.

  • As you read the passage today, think about the things that you put your confidence in that parallel Paul’s accomplishments.


3:1 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— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


(Today’s questions focus on verses 3:1-8a. Verses 3:8b-11 will be covered in our next study.)

  1. Make a list of the things that Paul could boast about in the flesh. Look for the things he was born into, and then for the things he accomplished himself.
  2. What was Paul’s attitude towards the accomplishments of his Jewish lifestyle? Why? What was more valuable to him (vss. 7-8)?
  3. Think about your life and what you could boast about in the flesh. How important to your identity are those things? How does your attitude about those things manifest itself in the way you daily live?
  4. What are you willing to lose of your earthly accomplishments or earthly privileges in order to know and become closer to Jesus?


We all have something in our lives that we tend to fall back on as our strength or sufficiency, especially when we take our eyes off the glory of Christ Jesus. As those times occur, we are open to conforming to what our culture values, such as education, power, and accomplishment, rather than putting our confidence and dependence on Christ Jesus and what he is doing in our lives. A life lived in dependence upon Christ frees us to see his work around us each day and to be able to glory in it.

  • Ask God to reveal the one thing that you cling to in pride, and then ask for help in releasing it to him to use to his glory.
  • Spend some time in obedience to the command of verse 1 to rejoice.