Self-Control and the Race Called Life

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Posted by Dan Jarms on October 15, 2023
Self-Control and the Race Called Life
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Main idea: Live your Christian life with such self-control that you win the reward of a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

  1. Run to win the Prize
  2. Exercise Self-control for what is imperishable
  3. Discipline your life to avoid disqualification

Realignment time

  • Automated Transcription
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    Well, good morning faith Bible Church. It's so good to see you through the glare in my glasses, but it's good to see you this morning. If you're visiting with us, we're so glad that you're with us. I met some new visitors. First, first, our love to meet you if you were here, right after this service. And a number of people were here for Emory's baptism, which was really special. So that's very encouraging, wants you to get connected. Don't leave without stopping at the information desk on the way out. It's on your right. If you want to get connected to faith Bible Church, they'll help you be able to do that. We had announcement of engagement. One of the couples in our growth group got engaged Ryan Burke and Julia boaster, that was pretty sweet. We're always excited about that lot, a lot of good things going on. And just every day, going through life, very encouraged about that, would you stand with me for the reading of God's Word. And just as a reminder, before we go, we're gonna go out to do faith and five right after this hour. So if you're able to join some of us who are going to go out, we're just going to hand out invitations to church, we just want the neighborhood I'll and I'll pray about it, we want the neighborhoods to know where we are, who we are and what we're about. So we want in a bit a driving five minute circle, we want everybody to know where we are, what we're about this, this passage is as much about our mission to do that as anything. So I will read we're gonna pray for a number of the troubled things are going on in the world keep, keep doing that yourself in your group life. So let me read this. And then then let's, let's hear, let's take our request to God. First Corinthians 923 24 through 27. Do you not know that all in a race that in a race all the runners run but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self control and all things they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly. I do not box as one beating the air but I discipline my body and keep it under control. Lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified. This is the word of the Lord. Okay, God and Father, we thank you for the price that is laid before us. We've been singing about it multiple songs about the prize Christ, standing in his presence and glory forever. That's, that's what we're looking to. And as we hear this text, which calls us to self control, give us eyes to see ears to hear. Heart of obedience. I pray for Pastor friends of mine, Carrie Hughes, the Christ, the Redeemer, or Dave Hammond at three crosses, who are faithfully bringing the work to their congregations give him and them like us ears to hear to hear and apply and obey what is said. So that we may be lights in this world, proclaiming the gospel everywhere we go. Father, there is such great suffering and tumult in the world this week. Our hearts are grieved and gripped by a new war between Israel and Hamas and the destruction that is going on, we pray that you would encourage believers on either side of the conflict, to speak up about true hope and Christ. So we pray for Palestinian Christians and Israeli Christians, just like we have been praying for Ukrainian Christians and Russian Christians who are in difficult situations. In war. We pray that Jesus Christ and His gospel would be foremost their suffering and Afghanistan after another earthquake after a series of earthquakes and devastation, bring the gospel forth to shine forth because death is coming for us all and then judgment. The gospel is a reminder and a help and hope. So I pray that you would embolden the believers all over the world and give them the comfort and strength they need. Father, we do pray for our own government asking that you would give our leaders wisdom. We want a government that has its act in order and governs effectively for the good of people. So that believers can, again see the progress of the gospel. And that there is justice and equity in our land. We ask those things, and many others in Christ's name, Amen. You may be seated. Well, first Corinthians 924 through 27 is a familiar text to me as as an athlete, it's, it's, it's probably not an overstatement between 10 and 22. I spent two hours a day, on a field in a gym or on a track. And maybe it wasn't quite so much when I was younger is definitely was when I was older because I lived for athletics. And so I was part of athletes and action work with with Northwest basketball camps, or I was part of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes before I was saved. And this is a text that that shows up at everything like that, because this is like one of the athletes favorite verses and then it gets them pumped up to go on the field. And it's not even about being on a field. But still, it's near and dear to my heart. Paul is, is going to talk to us about a metaphor that we're really familiar with in Spokane, the city center, the city center has now three massive sports arenas, the arena, what's the name of the new place that they just had the badminton World Championships? The podium Yeah, that's right. We have the podium and we've got a new stadium for football going in. So this really it's a relevant one for us. I told you the Spokane at Corinth are a lot of like, Corinth had its Corinth had its its me and games every two years. And just imagine putting those event centers plus Bloomsday plus hoop fest all at once. And that was the Isthmian games. So everybody related to this. So I'm going to tell a story that doesn't have anything to do with athletics. I've recently heard a story, met a man Christmas Christian businessman from Los Angeles and he had a thriving manufacturing business. That was until the recession of 2008. And his orders came to a standstill. And he was really left with a difficult decision, lay off employees or use his personal resources to keep everyone employed. So he sold his large home in LA nice neighborhood nice home, moved into a two bedroom apartment and a modest neighborhood with his wife. And he took those resources and he used his line of credit and he kept paying his employees. The bank called in his loan one day, he had not missed a payment, but they just said we're calling it in, we're going to foreclose. And he went to them and he essentially begged them, I'll make my payments, I'll pay my debt. And the bank didn't foreclose. But they told them they'd never loan to him again. The businessman had every right to lay off his employees to keep his house to keep his standard of living. But as a believer in Christ, he felt this compulsion to waive those rights to his own harm. He really loved his employees. He really loved the Lord. And he knew what his real treasure was standing before him. When he crossed death's door or Christ returned, he knew the real prize, Christ and His glory. And so for him, it was a small thing to inflict a financial beating on himself in order to win the prize. That same kind of pattern has been followed by men and women. Since Jesus Christ Jesus set the example the Apostle Paul followed the example and set the example for others to live this kind of life quite literally, the apostle Paul was willing to take a beating literally forego money for go marriage, food and drink, or any other things so long is it helped him stay focused on his mission of following Christ and making disciples. Our mission is a church to be a loving community making disciples of Jesus Christ calls for the same kind of mindset. So in our passage today, the apostle Paul looks at the Christian life looks at the life of faith as a race. What's the race following Jesus and proclaiming the gospel? How long is the race? Our death, or Jesus return? What does it take to win the race? The apostle Paul is going to tell us today that it's self control. It's going to be self control.

    The Christian life requires no less self control than the athlete who competes in the games. The Christian life requires no less self control than the athlete who competes in the games. To use that metaphor, he would say, run the race, self control, so you're not disqualified and you win the prize. The big idea I laid out, tries to put this to unpack the metaphor, live your Christian life with such self control, that you win the reward of a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. We want to be found faithful. So many in this room, I am well aware that you are running the race and running hard. Every Sunday morning, we have pre service prayer upstairs in the library. And Chris had us praying for the behind the scenes people of faith Bible Church. There's so many of you, the people who got here ahead of me to make sure lights are on and sound works and the bands prepared and the doors are open and greeters are present. And doughnuts are there for our little ones like there are so many behind the scenes, people that get the race and have self control. Like, wouldn't you rather sleep another hour on Sunday morning. I gotta sleep off all the celebration about your dubs when yesterday. Thanks, waters, just us, I guess, just us. When you know what I want to do for you today are the faithful servants who were running the race, I want you to see the prize again. I want you to see the prize and say it's worth it. It's worth it. For some sorry to say there are so many temptations, so many distractions. So much pain or even so much sadness, that the thought of running a race seems like it's it's another realm or seems impossible. I want you to see the prize, I want you to see the prize. And I want to want you to have that compulsion to run and exercise self control. Run in such a way that you win or win. And you exercise that self control. Everybody that I know. So Ron or not every one of us is plagued by FOMO. You know, it's that fear of missing out. We all see what everybody else is doing on social media feeds. We all see what everybody else is reading. We all see what everybody's activities are. We all see everybody's vacations. And we think when we see it, like I have to do all of it. All of it. I have to I have to make every project and and put every scrapbook page here. I've got to do all of it. And you're exhausted and distracted. So we have to routinely ask the Lord with the choices of how we spend our time and our thinking, we have to routinely ask the Lord this Lord, here's what I can do. What must I do? Lord, here's what I can do. What must I do, Lord, here's what I can do. But what must I do? And Paul is not giving a message of do more buddy. Come on, buddy, do more. He's not giving a do more message. Because there's no more to do. You have the same 24 hours that Apostle Paul, did. You have the same 24 hours that Jesus did when he was here. You'll have the same 24 hours. But you might be asking, Where do I need to redirect and do effectively what I must do now for some of you, some of you need to rest. You're so busy serving the Lord like Martha that you're not enjoying him or praying and so some of you need to do less ministry and more rest and prayer. Some of you need to play less video games just let's just call it out. And you need to do more Bible meditation. like nobody's asking you to do more polls that actually asked you to do more but he is asking you to take seriously the thought of self control the focus of From what I can do to what I must do, certainly when it comes to sin, you must say that's gotta go, and it needs to be replaced with something better. So he's gonna give us three principles that a faithful disciple will live by. For the kids out of the encouragement from Dave belch, sort of the master preacher among us, I made an acrostic, read R, E, D, R, E, D, if you are, if you are a first grader or a second grader, you can do this R Ed, run, exercise, self control, and discipline your body, run, exercise, self control, and then discipline your body, our ED read. So here's these three principles first run to win the prize run to win the prize. Let's put it in its context. But let's just say this, there is a prize. It's worth running an all out race to win, it's worth training to win. The apostle Paul says, Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it? Now he's not saying that only one Christian goes to heaven? Like, there are some of you who are going to be like hyper literal. Are you saying, Paul, because only one writtens the ways that only one Christian gets into heaven? Of course, he's not saying that. What he's saying is that there is a mindset of the elite athlete who wins and he he trains and runs to win. So you do that. So let's put it in context and see what's he talking about? The last section of chapter nine functions like a hinge. In chapter eight, which began this section, some in Corinth claimed that they had this knowledge, that freedom about what they ate, it's not our world, but their world, you had the opportunity to go the meat market to buy food, and a lot of it had been part of a sacrificial ceremony to one of the Greek gods. Or you had an opportunity to go to the union meeting of whatever your trade guild is. And you go to the union meeting that also had a meal. And they would start that with a sacrifice to a god, and everybody who ate it, participate in that. But there were some people in Corinth who were saying, you know, meat is just meat, so if I eat it, it doesn't matter. And if I show up, and I sit down with my buddies and the trade Guild, and I eat the meat, it's no big deal. Food is food, the idols are dead. The apostle Paul was saying, Oh, no, people really offer worship while this is going on, you can't go to a place and sit there and act like the worship is fine. And, and make another Christian think it's fine to have Jesus and this false god. That's not our world. But he does bring us into our world, we often have things that we think our freedoms, but will actually lead other people into an idolatry or back into a false worship. We've talked about those at length. The hinge turns to next chapter, in which we move from a race metaphor to the Exodus, in which Israel was called and rescued by God, but they fell prey to idolatry, real idolatry and were destroyed by the time we get done with chapter 10. The person who says oh, it's no problem I can I can be really I can be adjacent to sin, I can be close to sin, I can be next to a person who is ascending, but it won't affect me and Paul's like, I wouldn't be so sure about that. You might actually disqualify yourself. So what's this for this is to remind us that there is a non stop war against idolatry in our hearts, and it's a race against it. Paul would set aside any freedom or any right so that he could freely share gospel blessings. Look back up at verse 18. Here's the runners theme come in the race theme. He says, What then is my reward? So like, what do I win? That I may present the gospel FREE of charge. I've received the gospel of free grace, I preach the gospel of free grace, and I don't charge for the gospel of free grace. That's my, that's my reward. Verse 23. I do it all for the sake of the gospel that I may share with them and its blessings. This this is the Gentile world, the unbelieving world. This is what I do it for it last week, it did just a brilliant job walking through that passage, where to the Jew, he became a Jew to those under the law, He came as one under the law to those outside the law. He never disobeyed the law of God but he he would acquiesce to whatever restrictions any culture had, so long as it didn't compromise the gospel. But he would do that so that he could preach the gospel So here he picks up a familiar metaphor. By the way, you'll notice that he uses the word win to the week I became weak so that I might win the week

    I become all things to all people so that by any means I say something we have reward and winning and so then he takes what Corinthians we're very familiar with the the competition, and he picks up this metaphor every other year, Corinth hosted the Isthmian Games, races wrestling, boxing and combat games. athletes and spectators from all over the Roman world would come and so just imagine like I said, earlier Bloomsday Bloomsday hoop Fest and every other athletic event all the Spokane could house happened. That was the SP and games. Matter of fact, the word race here is where we get the word stadium from it's a raceway. It's a place to hold a race. So he says every runner runs and he runs to win a prize. You know, this. You Christian art to pursue your mission your life like it's a race with a prize to win. Okay, Paul, what's the prize? We're gonna we're gonna, we're gonna approach this like an elite athlete. I had a funny thing happened. A couple years back during the Olympics, I show up with this Olympics rings t shirt to Trader Joe's and the guy asks me, were you Are you an Olympic athlete? Well, yes, I am. I get on the phone right away. Like I thought I was an Olympic athlete. And then this this year I was at. I was at Cordyline for our 33rd anniversary, and I stopped at a restaurant to get some water for Linda. And the gal asked, Are you here for the Iron Man? Well, no. What she thought I was in the Ironman. She thought you were the guy helping load the bikes. She is so right. Even when I was an athlete, I was never elite ever elite. What's the price? Here's Paul's Gospel. This is what he's living for. Jesus, the King. God who took on human flesh has come to offer pardon to his enemies. If his enemies would repent and receive Him as Lord, he would forgive them and restore them. This is what he is coming to do. He is the King who's come, who are his enemies, all who want to live apart from him all who choose other gods before him all who break his just in loving God, there is loving laws, they're his enemies. But here's what you have to understand about the glorious news of the gospel, the King has come. And if we were to narrow it down, the apostle Paul preaches the gospel in five words, Christ died for our sins, that that is that he died to restore you and me into a relationship with God who made all things and his king of all things. God is willing to take you back. If you trust Christ, the Son salvation, who started putting it in the pictures is like the proverbial salmon going upstream. But it's salmon going upstream in the spring. Where did the salmon go in the spring out into the ocean

    it's like the salmon being saved going upstream against the current opposite the other fish or if we were to put it in the metaphor like going down division. It's like being on division right here by the church and being stopped spun around and told go the other way, drive 40 miles an hour uphill against one way traffic. So little picture of repentance and the turnaround. You've got people coming at you you obviously have people mad at you terrified. See, the moment you surrender your life to Christ. You trade allegiance, you go from God's enemy. To the devil's enemy. You go from God's enemy, to Devil's enemy. You never are free from an enemy till you make it across the finish line. The world is corrupt desires. The remaining sin in you want to sweep you out into the ocean and wants to turn you around wants to destroy you and take you down the one way street to eternal destruction. But here's that offer. Listen to what the apostle John says about this Gospel says Whoever believes in the sun has eternal life whoever does not obey the sun shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. That heading eternal life. That's the price. But there's so many things under it. God the Father is now the ever accessible provider, ask him whatever you need, he'll care for you. You're not at war, but you're at peace. You're not an enemy, but a friend and family member, you're not without hope and purpose in this world when Jesus calls anyone to trust him. It's like he's saying to Peter, James, and John, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. You you get to now win people to Christ, so that they put their faith in Him so that they one day would Blue Live seamlessly and painlessly enjoying Christ for all eternity. But wait, Johnny, there's more. The Holy Spirit comes to make his home in you. Here's this promise out of John 14, I will send you another Helper. This is what Jesus says, I will send you another Helper, another of the same kind. Another of the same kind. Man, here's the thing about the Holy Spirit, everything that the disciples had in front of them in Jesus, when he was with them, you now if you're a Christian, have in you, through the Holy Spirit, you have Jesus spirit in you. You're never alone to fight any temptation or any battle. You have an advocate comfort or encourage your friend, helper teacher, and Jesus is going and is up in heaven. He has ascended, he's at God's right hand. He said, I'm preparing the home for you. And if I didn't say it, wouldn't I also come back for you. Jesus is preparing a home and he promises to return for you at the end Satan's reign of terror and depression. And you will see every tyrant brought down every temptation obliterated and finally there will be a new heavens and a new earth friend. That's the price. That's the price. The race is believing Jesus, although there is a torrent of temptation and distraction and your own desires of remaining sin to want to have it easy for a while. And while you're going upstream, while you're going up the one way street, you're telling everybody, it's the wrong way. It's the wrong way. It's the wrong way. It's the wrong way. That's the Christian life and the price through death's door, Jesus return is into His presence. One way to say it is that the rest of the Christian life is continuing to believe Christ and His promises. That faith which is the gift of God itself expresses itself through your mind, your body and your voice. James says faith without works is dead. It works its way out the Apostle Paul talked about this in Hebrews are sorry, Hebrews in Philippians, 312 and 13. If you if you have a second you can turn they're flipping Philippians 312 says this says Not that I've already obtained it I haven't arrived at Christian perfection. Or I'm already perfect but I press on to make it my own. Because Christ Jesus has made me his own because of Christ's work and calling you and changing you and turning you around on that one way street or turning around to that river and you're going upstream because he's called you you press on because he's made you his own you make him your own and you press on

    brothers here's what I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the prize to the goal of the for the prize of the upper call of God in Christ Jesus. So sixth graders sophomores sophomores in college seniors. I have to ask are you even in the race? Are you in the race? Are you being swept out into the ocean of destruction? Are you still going down the one way street to hell? Remember, it's not being religious. Paul was as religious as it gets in Philippians chapter three. And as religion got in the way of Christ Have you called on Jesus to save you from your sin? Have you received Him as your Lord if you have If you have then you have the prize in front of you and you're always praying something like this Lord, here's what I can do. What must I do? Here's what I can do. But what must I do? So we run to win a prize. Number two, we exercise self control our II, exercise self control for what's imperishable. You're all going to work at something, work at something that lasts, we all have 24 hours, we use our 24 hours for something, user 24 hours for something that lasts. He says it's every act, every athlete exercises, self control and all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Self control here is the mental exercise to restrain the body in the mind. Paul doesn't have a two tiered existence. Here. There's the physical which is lower in the spiritual which is superior. He doesn't have that. We live our spiritual life in a body. Hearing that we live a spiritual life in a body. And when we do crossed death's door, and Jesus does return, we get a resurrected body. We live our spiritual life in a body. So self control is the mental practice of controlling our minds which control our body back in 620, talking about why we don't give into sexual immorality, he says you were bought with a price glorify God with your body. And then all of chapter nine, we could see what Paul could do with his body, he could work he could get married, he could make a living. Chapter Seven, has sex in his proper place, Chapter Six was sex, and it's sinful and harmful place chapter eight and 10, where there was eating real, all those are very bodily things. So it's necessary to have self control. And this was a perfect metaphor for them. Because in in those days, athletes had very special diets that controlled what they ate. And they had very restrictive sex practices. They controlled themselves, they thought it was all tied together. So if I want to be an elite athlete, I need to control my body with what I eat, and my sexual appetites.

    What's self control, then? Here's self control. Self control is the activity of the mind, where we make choices that keep us from getting carried away. Self control is the activity of the mind where we make choices that keep us getting from carried away we can get carried away into complaining, into coveting, into lusting into comparing into belittling into plodding into bitterness, and to busyness. That's all in the mind, what happens if that's what's consuming your mind? It eventually shows up in your body. You say it, you do it, you act on it. So self control enables you. Self control enables you to not be carried away by sin or by good things not carried away. There's another race metaphor in. In the New Testament, it's in Hebrews. Hebrews 12 One and Two says this, Therefore since we have are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses those who have already finished the race in Jesus presence, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely. And I love that picture because he doesn't just say sin, He says weight and sin, what do you mean weight and sin. So there are a whole bunch of things that you can do that aren't sin, but they're really slowing you down.

    Lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the founder perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. So there were things in Jesus's life that he could have enjoyed but chose not to. Because he had a focus and a mission. He resisted all sin. Here's a host of pursuits in life. I want to be clear, they're not an all or none. There were people who tried to say that truly spiritual people enjoy no earthly pleasures. Those people were called ascetics. They tried to show their spirituality by not enjoying anything and Colossians two, First Timothy for both contentment and asceticism God is good and gives good things to enjoy. But what do we do with good things? Well good things must spark our gratitude to God not become our source of greed good things must spark gratitude not more greed. They must not squeeze out our Bible intake or our prayer or our God given mission of evangelism or God given mission of church life our God given mission if you're married as a spouse, your God given mission is parenting all those are essentials, that's part of the race. They can't the good things can't squeeze that out. Sometimes you, you need to take stock what's going on? A couple of years ago, we bought this what I thought was this perfect looking area rug for our living room and had the texture I wanted, Linda liked it. But one of the reasons why it was so cheap is that when you vacuum it, the fibers just kind of peel out pretty soon. One is vacuuming. Sometimes the one is me. Mostly it's Linda. But sometimes one is vacuuming and it's not sucking up anything. Your vacuum ever done that well, either the bag is full. When I get down and I turn the vacuum over, it's just tightly wound. I didn't expect it to be tightly wound with cat here. I mean, our cats shed so much we could we've sweaters out of them every year. So I expect to harvest some cat here. But it's the carpet that's wound in in these these tiny fibers. And so there's only one way to get them off. It's take apart this thing and take some scissors and just hack hack hack hack, hack, hack, hack, hack, peel it off, who does that in their house? Raise your hand if you are the the carpet hacker. I praise God for you. Because now your vacuum sucks as it's supposed to. He said sucks mom. That's what vacuums do, son. Sometimes, and I would say at a monthly or quarterly basis, you need to ask, Am I spinning really hard but not getting anything done? For the Lord? Am I so involved in ministry that I'm not praying? Am I so involved in something else that I'm not in ministry and my end and you need to you need to hack out the fibers you need to clean it up. Sometimes your mind is so abuzz with those things. We just talked about that that you need. You need to clear out. The winning athlete in the games in Corinth would exercise of supreme self control. He got four things. The athlete gets four things. There's this precious moment of silence. When the winning athlete here all of you, Frank has won the prize. No, please. No, I can't live with him if he wins the prize. And it's silent. Frank stands up. And then the crowd goes wild. everybody cheers and it goes on for 510 minutes. And then you know it dies away and everybody goes home and and and then you know, Frank goes to the local market. Frank, the fish tonight's on me goes to the little street food stand. Hey, Frank, go buy some pork ribs. You know, like then that goes away in a couple days. And then there's the the wreath which is made of celery leaves and pine leaves. It's already wilting on Frank's head. And you know, in a couple years, nobody remembers Frank, except the list of athletes and then pretty soon they're all dead and nobody remembers those either. You get here's what like dozy elite athletes exercise Supreme Self control to win an imperishable prize. And he uses the Stephanus, the Crown picture. We do it for an imperishable wreath and imperishable wreath. Christ life in His presence and all the saints of God. Turn over to Revelation five. This is my favorite scene of the prize in the Bible. It's It's the it's the scene where Jesus gets the title deed of the earth and he's going to finish the last part of the story of God. He's the only one worthy to take the scroll. I want you to see that this is this is the price Revelation five, six, in between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw Lamb standing as though it had been slain, we're gonna see Jesus with with the marks of his crucifixion. As that lamb we're gonna see him forever, with seven horns with seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures in the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints, and they sing a new song saying worthy, are you to take the scroll and open it seals for you were slain, and by your blood, you ransomed people for God from every tribe, and language and people and nation, and you have made them a king and priests who are God, and they shall reign on the earth. And I looked, and I heard around the throne, and, and the living creatures and the elders and the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads, and 1000s of 1000s, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. All the angels erupting in praise, I heard every creature in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and the sea, and all that is in them, that's us, saying to him, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory, and might forever and ever, that's the prize, you're running the race, if you've ever watched the Olympics, and you follow the marathon runner, the marathon runners running is 26 miles or 26 miles and her final, final 5000 is or whatever it is, is in the in the track. And when when he or she comes in, the crowds are going wild, that winning racers going wild. But here's the thing. You're running a race, you're running a marathon. But you're running to get a chance to be in the stadium to stand in the seats at the coronation of the King to be in his presence for all because there's Jesus who is the one worthy of all glory, and you get to be in the audience. You're called into the throne room of God, to be present before him to be utilized by him seamlessly, and to worship Him forever. That's the prize. You've never even been invited to have coffee with Joe Biden. And you never will be. But you are invited to the King of the universe. To be in the stadium of that blessed existence called to heaven forever. To see him in his glory and to be used by him. That's imperishable. That's the prize. Got to control the mind. To win the prize. You've got to ask yourself, Lord, this is what I can do. What must I do? And you've got to control the thinking. The bursts out the bitterness, the sadness, the grief. Those are all real emotions, and they need to be put in check by keeping your eyes on the prize. run the race, exercise does exercise, self control. And finally discipline, discipline your life to avoid disqualification. Now we focus on the body itself what we do with our body says if you see it here, an athlete follows rules and observe strict training guidelines. And so a Christian should in Christian life, he says this, so I do not run aimlessly. I run with a goal. Every cross country runner gets a preview of the course and her coach tells her how to approach each segment if she's going to maximize the course. This is what you do in the Christian life. You look at every segment you maximize that section.

    Boxers study their opponents, their weaknesses, they know where to inflict the blows. They know the moves, they practice them. So we all get it with the athlete, Paul says, But I discipline my body and keep it under control. This word for discipline is a strong word literally. It's to give yourself a black eye. It's a punching word. But it refers to taking the extreme measures to maintain fitness and to keep focused and the competition I did discipline my body. Keep it under control is literally this word as subdued as a slave. I make it my slave some how I've memorized it. discipline my body making it a slave. Why would he do that I don't want to commit for forfeit my blessing. Certainly if there is a sin that is dominating your life, you have to go hard after that sin.

    But there are other good things, a hobby, a passion that can take controlling measures. Augustine of Hippo battled with lust and fornication until his early 30s. He had a Christian mother, a devout woman, but his barrier to conversion was giving up gratifying his lusts, fornication. He looked back in his confessions, he said, This, I think is so spot on. He says the enemy his flesh, held my will. And have it he made a chain and bound me because my will was perverse. It changed to lust, lust, yield to became habit and habit not resisted became necessity

    because my will was perverse, it changed to lust, lust, yield to became habit, habit, not resist, it became a necessity. That's what a person, we were used the word addicted in our culture, but really, it's voluntarily enslaved. But what happens when you give into a lust and you create a habit and we don't have to word your sexual lust, we could use any word today. It's called a passion. Use any passion set on its own, unchecked becomes a habit and you feed the habit long enough, you feel like you need it, I have to have it. Paul says, I am going to take this seriously.

    A lack of discipline could ruin you. The words disqualify it's really serious. It's it's the idea of forfeiting salvation, it's to be found a fake. In the race or race world, it's the person who's done the steroids. Not really real, you cheated. It's the cheat, it's the fake. I don't want to be crystal clear, while those who are truly saved can't lose their salvation. Apostle Paul also said He who began a good work in you, God will be faithful to complete it in the day of Christ Jesus, God's going to continue to work. So while it's true that those who are truly saved can't lose their salvation, the ones who are truly saved, persevere with the Holy Spirit in them, they hear warnings from the Spirit inspired Word of God and they say, Oh, I'm, I'm in need of this. I'll repent, I'll refocus, I'll continue. Warnings are a gift of God to the saints. Those who don't heed them are found to be fakes. Paul uses himself here because even Paul was a little fearful of self deception. He was a little fearful of self deception. Thinking he was okay when he really wasn't in it, it was caused him to look to Christ instead of himself.

    And in my experience, those who respond in faith to warnings find their security deepen their peace, return. In Greek mythology, there was a three headed dog named Sir Baris. He's the guard dog of hell. three headed dog ensures that the dead can't escape. You know, because of the sin that remains in US there's a three headed dog in our flesh trying to keep us from escaping hell and take us off course it's it's the one that's calling on us as we're going the wrong way on a one way street against the world and against the devil. It's the one barking at us and bearing its jaws. It's pride, pleasure and worship. All threatened to pull us off course your challenge may be pride and it drives you to pursuit simply so others respect you. Treat you special your challenge might be pleasure, or its counterpart the avoidance of pain and that often puts us in handcuffs have to have the pleasure have to avoid the pain. We have to feel good at all costs. So we have an endless stream of funny videos. intoxicating beverages or drugs. Your challenge may be where Worship I mean, we could take virtually any good thing that God has made and turn it into something to worship and obsession. So this passage calls you to extreme measures to cut sins out of your life. extreme measures are recently heard a story of a man who had had a 25 year habit of indulging in pornography, he finally outed by his family and friends. And he finally came to true repentance. You've what marked it was the extreme steps that he took to remove this porn and less from his life. He had a pretty well paying job. But the job was always adjacent to the porn that tripped him up. Lots of screen ability ability. And since the job was pretty good paying he had lots of spare time also quit his job. He chucked into a discipleship center back east that dealt with this issue, so he could deal with it radically. And he did it for a year. He retrained as an electrician so that he worked hard, I didn't work hard enough. I had too much energy left, I need to be exhausted at the end of the day. He got a dumb phone, he changed his friend groups. He hardly shopped or ate without accountability. He memorized tons of Scripture, developed finally, for the first time in his life, healthy prayer life. And for him, he would just say this, that exhausting, productive work that occupies my mind is a small price to pay to win. So my call for self limiting your pleasures, so you don't worship your pleasures. Remember rose asking this question, Lord, here's what I can do, what must I do? What must I do? Don't think that you can really hang out adjacent to your sin, or to an idolatry and never think you're gonna get sucked back into it. So how do I make sure that I maintain focus? The Christian businessman, whether the recession of 2008 paid his debts, he changed his bank. Being a good businessman, a manufacturer, everybody who wasn't selling now as part of product development, he's an inventor, they develop new products, everybody wanted them, the business started expanding and he needed another loan. So it goes to a new bank. And he meets the vice president of lending. And the VP said, when he walked into the door, whatever loan you need, well, we'll help you get it. And the businessman said, you don't even know me or my business. Don't you want to see my performer? The VP said, Oh, every bank in the region knows who you are. And what you did, we would be happy to get you whatever you need. That Christian businessman gave himself a financial Blackeye to pay the salaries of input his employees, and in this life, he saw some of his reward. But he would have done the same thing. Extreme discipline, self control may seem like a lot to ask, but the prize of Christ will be worth it. It'll be worth it. Father, we pray as we as we look at this, that You would help give us wisdom because self control is such a personal matter. So I pray that You would help me and my wife and the pastors and elders and all the people and growth groups to have those kinds of discussions to keep asking themselves. I know here's what I can do, but what must I do? And help us run the race on the musts. We ask this in Christ's name, Amen.

Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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