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• Concerned about Image and Impressions.
• Concerned about Authenticity and Integrity
• Settles for Mediocrity
• Strives for Excellence
• Quits in Difficulty
• Grows Through Difficulty
What Paul was trying to say is that if you really want to “win” in the Christian Life and in the Church, then you must be a contender!
Two Characteristics of Contenders
• They Are Competitive
• They Are Goal-Oriented
(1) Contenders Are Competitive.
Contenders are competitive. And while athletes compete against one another, as Followers of Christ, and as the Church, our competition is much different. We compete with three influences:
• Societal Influences
• Satanic Influences
• Selfish Influences
Spiritual Contenders are competitors. And they have come to realize that every day of their lives is a competition for their heart. Paul called it “The Good Fight of Faith”. You are involved in a heated competition for your heart. You may feel as though you’re anything but a contender. In fact, you may feel as though you’ve fallen completely out of the race. I have good news for you! You can get up and get back in the race! With God’s help you can be a contender again. With faith in Christ, you can not only compete, but you can win this race!
Contenders are not only Competitive, but…
(2) Contenders Are Goal-Oriented.
Winners are Contenders who reach for the prize.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
If our goal is to win the prize and if we’re to “run to get the prize”, then wouldn’t it be nice to know what “the prize” is? What is the prize in the Christian Life? What is the reward? I dare say that most of us would say heaven. And we would be partially correct. Because heaven is part of the prize, but it’s not the prize. You want to know what the prize is?
The prize is a Changed Life.
And there are three dynamic changes or Transformations that God desires for each of our lives. And regardless of who you are, or where you are in your spiritual journey, you need one of these changes. What are they?
(1) Justification –(Salvation) – Darkness to Light
Saved from the Penalty of Sin.
(2) Sanctification – The Process of Becoming Like Christ.
Saved from the Power of Sin.
(3) Glorification – Ultimately Transformed into the Likeness of Christ.
Saved from the Presence of Sin.
That’s the first characteristic of a winner. Someone who “runs to win”; a contender who is competitive and goal-oriented. Someone who refuses to settle for less than God’s best in their lives.
The Second Characteristic of a Winner is found in verses 25-26 of our text.
The Second Characteristic of a Winner is that…
#2. Winners Are Always In Training
It never stops. It’s a continual process throughout everyday of our lives. I don’t know about you, but I find this to be one of the most exhilarating aspects of the Christian life. To think that there’s always room to grow … that no matter how much we age, we can still be learning and growing! Toddlers wear training pants, their first bike had training wheels, every dad bemoans the day his little girl has to start wearing a training undergarment…but as Christians we need to accept the fact that we are in training, and always will be!
Let’s look at two aspects of Spiritual Training according to Paul in this passage.
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