Summary: Paul in this text talks about four fundamental truths that we must understand AND apply to our lives if we are going to be successful in our pursuit of Gold.
GOING FOR THE GOLD
TEXT: I CORINTHIANS 9:22-10:13
Paul in The 7th chapter of I Corinthians begins to address the specific questions that the church in Corinth had asked him, via the letter that was sent to him while he was in Ephesus, This section opens up with the phrase, "Now for the matters you wrote about", And then Paul begins to answer their questions. In Chapter 7 which we studied in great detail on Wednesday, Paul deals with, the questions and misunderstandings, that the church had in regards to such topics as; sexual intimacy in marriage, remarriage, divorce and being single.
And in chapter 8 the Apostle Paul begins an extensive discussion on Christian freedom, Paul talks about how we must not use our freedom in Christ in such a way, that it causes a weaker brother to stumble. Paul’s teaching on this issue extends all the way through chapter 10.
The text that we will be studying today, sits right in the middle of this teaching on Christian Freedom, and it is like a priceless sparkling diamond, on a ring of solid Gold.
Paul in this text talks about four fundamental truths that we must understand AND apply to our lives if we are going to be successful in our pursuit of Gold.
I. If we are going to have an opportunity to win the gold WE MUST 1st RUN THE RACE
Before we can run the race their are 2 important questions that we need to answer. The first question is:
A. What exactly is the race? What does Paul mean by this term.
When Paul used the metaphor of a race it was something that the Corinthians could really relate to. You see On the coast of the city every 2 years the Isthmian Games were held. These games were very popular and were second in importance only to the Olympics. So as the Corinthians heard this term immediately pictures of exciting races, cheering crowds and training athletes flash through their minds. Paul used this imagery to get the readers in Corinth and to get Christians today, for that matter, to start thinking about the elements of a physical race, so that he could teach them about the much more important spiritual race.
The race that Paul is talking about, is in general terms the Race of the Christian Life. It is the race of being faithful to Christ until our death. It was the race in which Paul himself was an avid runner, on a track that had many turns and up hill climbs. And as Paul was on his final up hill climb he penned his last letter, a letter to his faithful companion Timothy, Paul wrote the letter from a Roman prison, because his faithful service to Christ had put him in chains. Paul wrote these words to Timothy as he sat in the damp, dark and cold walls of a prison cell waiting for the footsteps that would soon take him to his death at edge of an executioners axe, "The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. (II Tim. 4:6,7).
The race that we are to run in general terms is to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ to the end, to remain faithful unto death.
But Paul also has, a specific aspect of the Christian life in mind, when he talks about the race in I Corinthians. And once again, it is the context that makes this meaning clear.
Paul in the verses preceding our text beginning in the 8th chapter tells us how, he will not let his freedom in Christ to eat any meat, cause a brother to stumble and thereby hinder the spread of the Gospel. Paul says in verse 12 of the 9th chapter that he has given up many of his rights as an apostle, he says of himself and the Apostles that "we put up with anything rather than hinder the Gospel of Christ". He goes on to say in verse 19, "Though I am free and belong to no man I make myself a slave to everyone , to win as many as possible." And he says in verse 22 of our text that, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some".
Paul’s main concern as he ran his race was to fulfill the mission of Christ, Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And Paul would willingly sacrifice his rights and freedoms so that the Gospel message would not be hindered. Paul was in race to take the Gospel message to the lost and nothing of or in this world was going to stop him.