We need to understand the context of Paul’s words in Phil. 3:12-14. In vv. 1-2, Paul tells the Philippians to watch out for false teachers. These false teachers taught that it is not enough to trust Christ. You must obey the Law to gain complete righteousness. However, Paul warns against these false teachers. Watch out for these false teachers, Paul says. He adds that we do not put our faith in our obedience to the Law. We do not put confidence in the achievement of the flesh.
Then in vv. 4-7, Paul says that he himself has more reason to rely on his own performance.
4 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: 5 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; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.If there is anyone more zealous to obey the Law, it’s Paul. But Paul says that his zeal for the Law is all nothing. It is all nothing compared to gaining Christ.
How about you? Where are you now in your spiritual life? Are you placing your faith in your religion or in Christ alone? Paul says that religion is nothing compared to knowing Christ.
In vv. 8-11, Paul says that his goal is to know Christ fully.
8 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 9 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.
Paul is saying that his religion, his religiosity, his zeal, and his righteousness, are nothing compared to the goal of knowing Christ. He wants to know the power of Christ’s resurrection. He wants to know the suffering of Christ. He wants to become like Christ in His death. In other words, Paul wants to be in perfect fellowship and deep intimacy with Christ. He wants to fellowship with Christ so that he will live like Christ. This is the goal of Paul—to know Christ in this life so that he will imitate Christ in his life.
Are you a believer of Christ, a follower of Christ? Then this should be your goal—to know Christ in your life; to know the power of Christ’s resurrection in your life; to know what it means to suffer for Christ; to know Christ in a deeper way; and in so doing, to become like Christ. Your goal in life is to live a Christ-centered life.