Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
As you may be aware, churches across America (and here in Chattooga) are facing a defection of faithful membership. There are many people who name the name of Christ, in these days, that simply cannot be found, or counted on, when it comes to loyal service to Christ through the local church.
The Apostle Paul spent his life, at the command of Christ, establishing and organizing local churches. Does this generation purport to know more than God and the man that wrote 13 (14) books of the New Testament? What is really going on here. Why are so many who call themselves Christians not “running well” anymore in this crucial area of truth that seems so clear cut? Consider these thoughts.
Two of Paul's favorite metaphors for the Christian life were those of running a race and boxing. Please read I Cor. 9:24-26 and also II Timothy 4:7.
1 Corinthians 9:24–26
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth 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:
2 Timothy 4:7
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Paul said, “I Therefore Run.”
Paul strove for mastery as a competitive runner would. The “mastery” would be the prize, the ultimate goal, the endpoint of his efforts. In the Biennial games (near Corinth), the prize was a pine wreath that one wore upon his head and the knowledge that he was the best.
What was the crown for which Paul ran?
Read Philippians 4:1 & I Thessalonians 2:19
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
1 Thessalonians 2:19
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
Paul’s crown was people; people he had led to and influenced for Christ....Oh how Paul loved people.
Paul said, “ I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course.” He was looking to receive a full reward for his labors. He called it a “crown of righteousness.” Do you understand the importance of viewing life in this fashion? So many these days are a law unto themselves. Paul realized that in any competitive game there were rules and guidelines and practices that would help one to win and receive a full reward! The Christian life is no different!
What is required to fight a good fight, run a good race, and finish your course?
First is Temperance. Read I Corinthians 9:25 again.
I Corinthians 9:25 - And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Included in temperance are two things self denial, and self control (the ability to control one's desires. The ability to abstain for the achievement of a greater goal). If one is to follow Christ and run his race faithfully, he must be able to control his desires and often subordinate them to a greater cause and purpose…. Temperance involves self denial and sacrifice - exactly what the people at Corinth seemed unwilling to do. Consider I Corinthians 8:10-12 in this context. In relation to self control, please read Proverbs 25:28
1 Corinthians 8:10–12
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
How do we achieve better self control / self denial? We achieve better self control / self-denial (Temperance) through discipline.
Paul said, ”But I keep Under my body" - This is discipline! This phrase means to bruise - to strike the face forcefully, in such a way, as to black the eye or make a bru