How To Live Like A Christian (part 2) - 9:26-27

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:16
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In this bag I have some necessities for running a race.
Someone tell me something I would need to run a race.
(Bag: Shorts. Compression shorts. Compression shirt. Socks. Shoes. Sweatband. Heart rate monitor.)
There are two things not in the bag that are absolutely essential.
Myself. Practice.
Having all the right gear is important, but if I am not willing to run the race, it does me no good.
Being willing to run the race and having all the right gear is awesome, but if I do not practice, I will not be able to run the race well.
With these things considered, here is what we need to run a race well.
We need proper tools.
We need a willing heart.
We need to train.
Last week we discussed a spiritual training schedule as well as the need to establish our priorities.
Today we are going to talk about the biggest hindrance to running the race well.
Before we do, I want to clarify something.
The race we are talking about is the Christian life.
Paul is using the illustration of a race to teach us important truths about living like a Christian.
When Paul talks about running and fighting he is talking about doing what God wants and living as God has called us to live.
Once again I want to remind us that our verses come in a section of the book where Paul is dealing with our freedom in Christ and the necessity to sometimes limit that freedom for the sake of the gospel.
He has given an illustration of his own voluntary limitation of freedom.
Now Paul is going to exhort the Corinthian believers to always keep the bigger picture in mind.
A successful Christian life requires consistent effort and discipline.
To give consistent effort and discipline there are two warnings we must give heed to.
As we give effort and live with discipline we earn eternal rewards.
Two warnings.
Last week we learn Warning #1…

1. Know What The Goal Is vv. 24-25

2 requirements to achieve the goal.
Requirement #1…

a. The goal requires strategy v. 24

Here’s our lesson:
The Christian life demands focus.
Requirement #1: The goal requires strategy.
Requirement #2…

b. The goal requires sacrifice v. 25

Here’s our lesson:
The Christian life demands purpose.
2 requirements if we are to live like Christians.
Requirement #1: Know what the goal is.
Our goal is to stand before Christ and receive reward for our labor in this life.
That only happens as we run the race of life well.
We run with self-control.
Requirement #2…

2. Know What The Danger Is vv. 26-27

Growing up we had family devotions every morning.
We would read from Psalm’s and Proverbs.
Over the course of my growing up years I heard each chapter of proverbs probably over 100 times.
As a kid hearing the proverbs there were some that made me laugh a little.
Here is one of them.
Proverbs 28:1
Proverbs 28:1 NKJV
1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion.
The picture that always came to my head was of someone sprinting as fast as they can down an empty street.
As they tear past house after house people come out on to their porches and see…nothing.
There is nothing behind the person running.
There is no danger that they can see.
As an adult I understand that the point of this proverb is that guilt inspires fear.
The danger is something internal.
As we come to the end of chapter 9, it is that idea that Paul addresses.
In this race of life, there is a danger we face.
Paul has already introduced the idea that we need to run the race with care if we want the prize.
We must have self-control, and discipline.
Here he takes those some ideas and gives them some personal application.
As we face danger in living the Christian life there are two ideas we must grasp.
Idea #1…

a. The danger is personal v. 26

1 Corinthians 9:26 NKJV
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
The first thing we need to notice here is that Paul changes pronouns.
In vv. 24-25 Paul says you and all and everyone.
Now he switches to I and my.
Several reasons.
One reason is that Paul is not exempt.
He is not giving a decree to the masses from which he exempts himself.
He’s not saying “you need to run well and practice self-control.”
In v. 25 he said we compete for an imperishable crown.
No one who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is exempt from the race.
That is another reason why Paul begins using personal pronouns, we are all in this together.
All of us are running, fighting, and growing.
We are in this together.
I believe the final reason Paul switches pronouns is because he wants to communicate something very important.
Paul’s biggest form of opposition is ours as well.
What is our biggest form of opposition?
Let’s look at the verse.
Therefore. Because we are competing for an imperishable crown, we run in a certain way.
The way we run determines whether or not we will get the crown.
Remember who you are racing against?
What most competitors will tell you is that the biggest obstacle to successfully running a race is your own mind.
The biggest issue I will have to overcome is myself.
What trips us up in the race of life?
My desire for ease. My desire for comfort.
Let me be honest with you, there are times when I simply do not want to do the work necessary to run well.
I get up a little later than usual so I decide to skip my Bible reading.
I get to the office late so I don’t spend time in prayer.
All of us have our excuses.
Look at the verse again.
“Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty.”
Uncertainty – ἀδήλως (adēlōs)
Uncertainty – ἀδήλως (adēlōs) uncertainly; aimlessly. uncertainly adv. — showing lack of certainty or goal. Adverb of manner.
We struggle to run well because we don’t really know why we are running.
That is the problem Paul is seeking to solve.
We have a goal for our running!
We want to stand before the judge, at the end of the race.
As the judge evaluates how we ran, we want to get the crown!
Throughout the history of the church there is a Biblical statement people will talk about. This is what we all want to hear. It comes from Matthew 25:21.
Matthew 25:21
Matthew 25:21 NKJV
21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord!
That’s what we want to hear!
Brothers and sisters, we can only hear that if we are running well!
We need to run with a purpose, we need to have a goal.
Paul is not running aimlessly.
He is not wandering around.
If we are going to run like Paul there is something we must do.
Make the choice to run.
Let go of ease, let go of comfort. Run the race.
Hebrews 12:1-2 bear on this topic as well.
Hebrews 12:1-2
Hebrews 12:1–2 NKJV
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Whatever is hindering you, let it go. Run the race.
Is there a sin holding you back?
There is hope.
Any addiction can be broken. Any struggle can be defeated. Any battle can be won.
Please reach out for help.
When we have set aside the weight, when we have put the sin to death, we run.
Run with endurance.
Look to Jesus.
He is the goal, He is the pattern.
Back to 1 cor. 9:26. Paul goes on to say this.
“Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.”
Paul doesn’t fight the wind.
He knows his opponent.
We looked at the armor of God last week.
Today let me just mention Ephesians 6:12.
Ephesians 6:12
Ephesians 6:12 NKJV
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Our battle is a spiritual one.
According to 1 Peter 5:8 we have an enemy.
1 Peter 5:8
1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
The enemy is not sitting next to you. It is not your neighbor. It is not people in the world, or in government.
The enemy is three-fold. Satan is our enemy.
What else?
1 John 2:16 tells us of another enemy.
1 John 2:16
1 John 2:16 NKJV
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
The world system is our enemy.
Not the people in the world, but the system that is energized by Satan.
The world system that celebrates the death of the unborn. The world system that elevates sexual sin and perversion. The world system that rejoices in the breakdown of the family.
That worldview, that system is the enemy.
Satan, the world system. What is the third one?
Look at Galatians 5:17.
Galatians 5:17
Galatians 5:17 NKJV
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
One of the sources of battle and conflict in our lives is our fleshly nature.
Our sin nature is our enemy.
Each of us has an old nature, the nature of sin, and a new nature, a nature redeemed by the Holy Spirit.
This verse tells us that there is a conflict between our sin nature and the Holy Spirit.
In Ephesians 4 Paul tells us to put off the old man, be renewed in our mind, and put on the new man.
The only way to run this race well is by getting rid of the bad and practicing the good.
We have an enemy.
The world, the flesh, and the devil.
That is what we do battle against.
We are not fighting the air.
Paul fights and runs with purpose.
He is not wasting his time, wasting his movements.
He knows his destination, knows his opponent.
He contends for the prize.
If we want the prize, we run with purpose.
If we want the prize, we battle our opponents.
My hardest battle is against my own sinful nature.
The danger is personal.
If we are going to run this race well, we must know that.
That is idea #1. The Danger is Personal.
Idea #2…

b. The danger can be overcome v. 27

This is so very important.
Victory is possible.
How do we have victory?
Look at v. 27.
1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
The word “discipline” used here actually dresses up the Greek a little bit.
Discipline – ὑπωπιάζω (hypōpiazō)
Discipline – ὑπωπιάζω (hypōpiazō) wear down; beat; discipline. to discipline ⇔ bruise v. — to discipline, conceived of as striking forcefully so as to make (the undereye or face) black and blue. Finite verb, present, active, indicative, first person, singular.
Paul us saying that he beats his body black and blue.
Question: Is this literal?
Answer: No.
How do we know?
Because it is in the context of an extended illustration.
I actually like the NKJV hear because I think it best coveys the meaning.
Paul is talking about being disciplined. He is talking about self-control.
This word “body” refers to the person as a whole.
Paul is bringing his whole person into subjection.
NKJV dresses the Greek up again with the word “subjection.”
The word literally means to enslave or subjugate.
Here’s what the NASB has here: 1 cor 9.27
1 Corinthians 9:27 NASB95
27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Here’s the idea.
We can either be ruled by the appetites of the flesh, or we can rule our flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit.
That’s what Paul is talking about here.
He has put disciplines into his life so that he lives in a self-controlled way.
We will deal with why this is so important in just a second.
Before we do, I want us to understand something very important.
It is possible to live a consistent Christian life.
It is possible.
It requires discipline.
Just like Paul is talking about here.
Recently we went on vacation and camped at the coast.
I have a confession to make about that.
I only took one shower the entire time we were there.
I jokingly mentioned to Jess “how strange that not really showering for a week has given me a blemish on my forehead.”
As I thought about that, I realized something consistent showering is necessary to avoid skin problems.
In the same way, when we are not consistent in Christian disciplines, blemishes are the inevitable result.
When I don’t do the work necessary to grow in Christ, my flesh is going to rise up and manifest in ugly ways.
What Paul is arguing for here is consistency, discipline, and self-control in our lives.
If we want to live Christ-honoring lives, we must be disciplined.
What happens when we are not disciplined?
Look at the rest of the verse.
“Lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Paul understands that there is a danger of disqualification.
There are two important points that need to be made here.
I will put them in the form of a question.
First, Who is responsible for the disqualification?
Let me get a little bit technical here.
The word “become” is in the middle voice.
This means that the subject, in this case Paul, is acting in a way that impacts itself and brings about a result, in this case disqualification.
Paul is telling us that when we run in a race, disqualification is no ones fault but our own.
I am responsible for how I run the race of life.
You are responsible for how you run.
This brings us to the second question.
Disqualified from what?
It is vital to remember that the whole context is of reward in heaven.
Paul is not saying that he might be disqualified from salvation!
He is saying that if he does not live in a self-controlled way, he may be disqualified from rewards.
If he doesn’t run in the right way, he will not win the prize.
This is a big deal to Paul because he is doing everything to reach people with the gospel.
That is what he is preaching!
Let me be clear on what the gospel is.
The gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sin.
Our memory verse for this month is Romans 5:8.
Romans 5:8
Romans 5:8 NKJV
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God did not sit silently by and leave us in our sin.
He provided a substitution. A sacrifice in our place to pay the penalty for our sin.
There is only one requirement for salvation and it is spelled out in Ephesians 2:8-9.
Ephesians 2:8-9
Ephesians 2:8–9 NKJV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
The requirement for salvation is not try harder. It is not do more.
The only requirement for salvation is faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul has been preaching to others this truth.
If he is preaching to others the glorious riches of God’s grace and yet He is not living with that grace in his own life, that would be a tragedy!
It would be hypocritical!
It would mean he would not get the prize.
Paul brings his body under control through careful discipline.
It requires self-control.
It requires consistency.
It requires awareness of the consequences of failure.
He does this because failure to live a disciplined life will lead to disqualification from the prize.
Do we want to hear our Savior say “well done?”
Do we want to stand before Christ having lived a life of faithful service?
These things require faithfulness now.
It is possible to live a Christian life.
It is possible to be disciplined and live in self-control.
To live like a Christian requires submission.
What does that mean?
Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth.
He gives us the ability to understand the Word of God.
The Holy Spirit is the still, small voice that speaks to us and guides us.
The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to direct the child of God in the will of God.
If we are not walking in submission to Him, we will be taken out by the enemy.
The only way we can live in self-controlled discipline is through the Holy Spirit.


As we wrap up the last part of chapter 9 there are four big ideas here.
1 - Run.
All of us are in a race called life.
How we run, matters.
Know the goal and run for the goal.
2 - Fight.
If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your savior, you are in a spiritual battle.
We need to know our enemy.
The world system.
The devil.
Our own sinfulness.
3 - Discipline.
We do battle through living with discipline and self-control.
This discipline and self-control requires dependence on the Holy Spirit.
4 - Disqualification.
If we do not live in discipline and self-control, we will not win the prize.
We will not receive crowns.
We will stand before Jesus with nothing to show for our lives on earth.
As we wrap all this up, there is no 1+1=2 solution to living like a Christian.
To live like a Christian demands consistent submission to the Lord and obedience to what He has revealed in His Word.
To live like a Christian means choosing to follow Jesus every day.
It means that in every situation and circumstance we are asking ourselves what actions, words, or attitudes are demanded by Scripture.
Living a Christian life is a daily commitment.
If there is a change that you need to make, maybe just a change in attitude or thinking, maybe an action to take, write it down now.
One final thought.
Our brothers and sisters in Christ have been given to us by God to help us run the race well.
Take advantage of that resource.
What does that mean?
It means three things.
Ask for help when you need it.
Be a help when it is needed.
Look for ways to bless others.
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