Summary: Exposition of 1 Corinthians 9 regarding do you run to win? Are you in the Christian life to spectate? Is your Christian life just flailing along in laziness, flabbiness, outta shape, and without clear purpose?
Text: 1 Cor 9:23-27, Title: Olympic Glory, Date/Place: NRBC, 5/15/11, AM
Opening illustration: Tell a story or two about Camp Jubilee, maybe Erika and the suit of armor, and some others, but finish with the story of Aaron climbing the mountain with his prosthetics.
Background to passage: On the heels of his two chapter discussion on the willing limitation of Christian freedom for the sake of other disciples and unbelievers, Paul gives us a wonderful illustration that compels us to consider sporting events and our Christian lives. This illustration here relates to the laying down of the “right” to eat in temples and doing everything for the sake of the gospel, but it is so applicable to the entirety of the Christian’s walk with Christ.
Main thought: Do you run to win? Are you in the Christian life to spectate? Is your Christian life just flailing along in laziness, flabbiness, outta shape, and without clear purpose?
A. How do we do it? (v. 25-27)
1. How do we do it? How do we run to obtain the prize of the high-calling of Jesus Christ? If you are truly saved, you want to run like that, you want to be insatiably thirsty for Him to the point that it throws your whole life into a single-minded passion to live for Him, worship Him, serve Him, love Him, right? Wish I could give you a silver-bullet that would allow you to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in the lap of the flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sail through bloody seas. But as Piper says, “No, how could you ever want such a thing?” Because we are Americans, and human beings. Paul’s solution is this: beat your body into submission. Hoist the sails of discipline in your life by faith to catch the mighty wind of the Spirit of God as He transforms you into the image of Christ. He instructs them by example to exercise Spirit-fueled (Gal 5:22) self-control and restraint, giving the body a black eye continually and making your body a servant of your spirit rather than the other way around.
2. 2 Tim 2:2, 4:7, Heb 12:1, Col 3:5, 1:29, Matt 11:12, Rom 6:11-13, 8:29, 12:2, Philip 3:8, 9:43,
3. Illustration: “The serious athlete doesn’t ask about how to just get by in his training. He asks about what will bring about maximum performance. So the mature Christian asks, what will make me most useful for the kingdom? What will stir up my zeal for God most? What will intensify my earnestness in prayer? What will trigger more hunger for God’s word? What will strengthen my longing to love? What will fan the flames of my passion for holiness?” –Piper, “Essentially my life revolves around skating when I’m competing,” he said. “So everything I eat, everything that I do, everything revolves around my recovery…Training for an Olympic Games is very difficult. Some athletes are able to really balance their lives and they can do a lot of separate things, but for me I was very intently focused on what I was doing at the time and I wouldn’t allow myself to really do anything else.” –Apollo Ohno, “Following Jesus simply means learning from him to arrange my life around activites that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual disciplines are to life, what practice is to the game.” –Ortberg, “Adopting a training paradigm requires structuring our lives around the means that will keep the vision of the good and sovereign God before us and the intention to conform our lives to this reality.” –Ogden,
4. We must seize the areas in our lives of excess and waste, and curb them. Put to death by the Spirit the deeds of the body (Rom 8:13). We must say to our bodies, “no, you do NOT have to have _____.” We are a generation that lives as servants of our feelings, which are fickle and untrustworthy. Have to watch what I eat because of my acid reflux. We must fast, pray, memorize, read, serve, etc. We must practice the spiritual disciplines that we know of. And when we fall down, we get back up. And when we fall again, know that His grace is waiting there for you, and you go again! And you get some accountability if that is what you need to overcome. Get some brothers and sisters in the Lord that will help give you the broken face that you need to make your body serve you. It is work! It is hard (if you are dealing with the real messiness in your life). It is hard to be the person being held accountable, and hard to be the person holding another. But if they truly are fighting to win, they want it, welcome it. No pain, no gain applies here! But with a twist, ever pain you experience will be rewarded by a greater pleasure. You will never be eternally sorry when you suffer, sacrifice, or refrain for Jesus! And it’s long-term! You fight and you fight and you fight, till you can’t fight no more, and you fight some more. And by faith you will have the victory or die trying, but that death will be sweet, and it will provide a wonderful testimony of the genuineness of your faith, and the fact that when you passed from life to death, you did not meet your Judge, but your Treasure and the Lover of your soul! And your passing was not really from life to death, but from death to life! So let us go forth outside the camp and suffer for Him and with Him, cutting off the hands, gouging out the eyes by the Spirit and the Word, and let our lives reflect His beauty and glory so that the whole world may know Him. So with this passion, we can cut off our internet if need be; get up 30 minutes early, if need be; stop watching NCIS and numbing our brains, if need be; come to church on Sunday night if need be; give with fresh commitment; put down chocolate if need be (Edwards monitored his diet, rest, everything); do whatever it takes to let our bodies serve us, and advance Christ’s cause in the world, and win the prize, that imperishable inheritance. We have to get fired up enough to drive a stake into the ground of our lives, and say “this far and no farther.” The world is tired of mediocre, lackluster, status quo, no difference Christianity, and frankly, Jesus is too! But you can do it with His help! It is He who works in you in the form of the Spirit to accomplish His good pleasure and conform you into the image of Christ. This is as much about trust as it is about effort!