Have Faith Ministries

Running the Christian Race for God's glory!

In 1988 the Olympics were held in Seoul Korea. An international dual took place at the 100 meter finals race. Ben Johnson from Canada and Carl Lewis on the United States would face off as two of the fastest men on earth. At that time Ben Johnson was known as the fastest human ever, but Carl Lewis had many Olympic gold medals to his name already. It was obvious as the men came to the starting line, that Johnson was extremely muscular for a sprinter, almost to body building proportions. The race was set, the gun went off and the Olympic athletes blazed down the 100 meter track. The Canadian broke the tape, then Lewis. A new world record was set and the old one shattered by Johnson. Johnson came in at 9.79 seconds and Lewis with 9.92 seconds. I can still remember Johnson running the victory lap. He seemed proud, but not happy. Perhaps it was he own guilt that stole away the joy of victory. For you see Ben Johnson was about to be found out. Shortly after the 100 meter final, word came back to the Olympic officials that Ben Johnson had tested positive for steroid use.

He had run unlawfully. As a result, he was stripped of his gold medal and banned from international competition for a period of time.

If you don't run the race lawfully, properly, it will cost you. The same is true in the Christian's race. In 1Corinthians 9:24-27, the apostle Paul teaches us the importance of running properly and with self-control. In this passage he tells us HOW to run and he WARNS us how not to run.

Before we read out Bible passage, let's gain an understanding of the context. Paul in 1Cor. 9 has been teaching us that as an apostle he could have demanded financial support from the Corinthian believers. It was his liberty and God given privilege to benefit from his spiritual labors. Yet at the same time, Paul knew that the Corinthians were not spiritually ready to support him. So rather than being a potential stumbling block for these carnal Christians, he willingly worked with his hands to support himself hoping that this would have a spiritual impact on the Corinthians. Paul was more concerned about his gospel ministry not being hindered than he was about demanding what was rightfully his, namely financial support. Then the next truth Paul teaches us in 1Cor. 9 deals with "being all things to all men... in order to be a servant of all." Once again, Paul shows us the importance of putting off "Christian liberties" for the sake of serving others. Within God's moral guidelines, Paul chose to adjust his lifestyle in order to reach different people groups. He cared enough about the salvation of others to set aside his own comfort zone in order to have preaching opportunities with people of different backgrounds. Over and over again, the apostles teach us the importance of putting others first and the importance of sacrifice in ministry.

Now we've arrived at the close of 1Cor. 9 and Paul once again explains the importance of self-sacrifice, in the form of self-control, in order to Run the Christian race WELL. Let's read our passage:

1Cor. 9:24, Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25, And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26, I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27, But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

There are two major areas where preachers and pastors fall...become disqualified from running the race or receiving the prize.

Financial sins... embezzling etc.

and Sexual sins...

There are of course others areas, but these are the main problems.

1Cor. 9:24, Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?

When and if you enter a race, you try to win, not loose! After all the training and effort, you try your best. Yet, even with your best effort... you may not win. In a physical race, only one person can win!

However, in the Christian race, we can all run for God1s glory! All can receive a prize, if we run well and properly.

God has given every believer different abilities. God will only hold you accountable for what He1s entrusted to you. Don't concern yourself about not being as gifted as the next person. Rather, just do you very best with what God has given you.

When we consider an actual race there are a number of things you must do in order to cross the finish line well:

1. Run consistently / Faithful

2. Run aggressively / Total commitment... give it all you have

Col 3:17, And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 23, And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Do all your ministry all your service in every area of your life to God's glory - heartily! In a physical race, you must Finish! You never Stop running! The same is true in running the spiritual race for the Lord. 1Cor. 9:24... "Run in such a way that you may obtain it." Run with the intention and the Goal of laying hold of that Prize! This takes Zeal, Commitment, and Much Self-Control.

Paul begins to unfold these truths in v. 25..."And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things."

"competes" or KJV "striveth for the mastery" [ agonizomai ] Pres. Mid. Partic. meaning continuous, non-stop action.

Christian, would you say that you're agonizing in running the race for the Lord? If not why not?

"temperate in all things" in control of... control of SELF

2Tim. 2:4 & 5, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."

If you want to run well you cannot get yourself so consumed with the things of this world that you have no time to run the Christian race. Believers in the U.S. need to be especially careful of this.

If you've ever been involved in training for competition you know that day after day you need to drag yourself out to train. You have to pull yourself away from the comfortable and the easy things of life. Many Christians are hardly running the race because they DON'T want to leave their comfort zone. Many believers need to "get tough" spiritually! Start running! Start agonizing about the things of God and the souls of men!

What's the prize the goal of the Christian?

... v. 25 "Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown."

Crown = [stephanos] lorel wreath, Greek games... leaves and vines rot...

The prize, the crown we receive from the Lord last forever.... for His glory! Now this truth gives Paul, and should give us GREAT incentive to Run and live for the Lord in such a way that we WILL bring Glory to Him.

1Cor. 9:26, Therefore I run thus: (Paul's Christian Training Camp.)

Now Paul gives us the "How to Run Well" Manual...

"not with uncertainty."

1. He knows where he1s headed spiritually!

2. He knows just what he needs to do to finish Well!

3. He understands the Course and the obstacles...

v. 26... "Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air." He's not just shadow boxing! He connecting! He's giving some spiritual wallops...

27, But I discipline my body (original word "to make it black and blue, buffet it") Ouch! Paul is serious about self-control. No, he's not beating himself with sticks and his fist, but he is being spiritually disciplined with his flesh they hungers for the things of the flesh. Looking on in v. 27, Paul adds concerning his body... "and bring it into subjection" (2 Greek words.. bring into & slavery). A slave does not tell the master what the slave is going to do. The master tells the slave! Do you see the picture? Paul brings his body into slavery. Paul's mind, led by God's spirit and truth, tells his body what it's going to do and not going to do.

The Disciplined runner knows what he needs to do...

Heb. 12:1, "let us lay aside (partic...constant action) every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us"

"beset" or "ensnares" means "to make standstill." That's what sin does to Christians. It causes them to go very slow and stand still in the race. Obviously this is not good if you want (and you should) to run well. Whatever it is that is slowing you down, whatever the sin or hindrance - GET RID OF IT.

Now back to 1Cor. 9:27...

There is a potential disaster if you don't run lawfully... if you don't run with self-control.

"lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified / castaway." This word "disqualified / castaway" is used of unapproved coins. Coins that have flaws and faults. What happens to unapproved coins in the U.S. currency? They do all they can to take them out of circulation. They are not used! A disqualified athlete was side lined, benched! I think we all get the picture. Believers can do things that will take them out of the running to receive the prize and in some cases from being in particular leadership and ministry responsibilities.

If you don't run the race... you could be disqualified from a blessing of serving the Lord... because of sin.

Some may be thinking, "Oh a loving and gracious God wouldn't disqualify us from the privilege of serving Him." Let's allow God's word to give the answer to this.

Moses could not lead the People of God into the promised land because he struck the rock! Think of all the wonderful things he did in service to God, but he messed up big time at the end of his ministry. Moses in one sense did not finish as well as he could have. He lost his privilege of leading God's people into the promised land.

David could not build the Temple because of much blood shed/ in and outside his kingdom. 1Kings 15:5 "because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." 2Sa 12:10 "'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'"

As we run the Christian race, let us all be reminded of "the goodness and severity of God." We must run the race His way for His glory! That takes self-control through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us.

Run well , with self-control

Finish Well!

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