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Summary: Our lives – whoever we may be - are futile wastes of time and resources unless they produce something meaningful. The more meaningful and lasting our production, the more significant and worthwhile are our lives. The more significant and worthwhile are


A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today



“NO PAIN, NO GAIN” (1 Cor. 9:19-27)

Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, May 3, 2009 AM


Sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it?

But is it? What does it really mean to have personal freedom? How does this truly compare to servility to a good and great Master?

Who is truly better off: the sharecropper who has personal freedom but can barely feed his family, or the servant who has has given up personal freedom but serves a good Master who treats him like family and provides him with fine housing, clothes, food and a guaranteed, steady income?

What does this have to do with any of us today – citizens of a ’free country’?

EVERYTHING!!! Our lives – whoever we may be - are futile wastes of time and resources unless they produce something meaningful. The more meaningful and lasting our production, the more significant and worthwhile are our lives. The more significant and worthwhile are our lives, the greater our hope, joy, confidence and victories even in the midst of great difficulty, injustice, or outside uncertainty.

God’s Word, which we will look at this morning, has the answer that is not only True, but that brings an eternal retirement like none other!


a.) SERVILITY (v. 19)

Legally, religiously, morally, and by all ’rights’ the apostle Paul is a completely free man.

As such, he willfully has made used that freedom to submit himself as a servant to all people!

He can do this amazing and self-less thing, because personal freedom is not his ultimate goal or what he most values. Instead, it is the salvation from sins of all others!

And, as we have already seen in this inspired letter, True Freedom is a paradox. As human beings, we are really most free when we submit ourselves to servility under Christ our Lord!

Personal freedom is extremely limited and, in fact, only a freedom from responsibility and accountability. We yet remain enslaved to our own weaknesses, mistakes, ignorance, needs, desires, insecurity and sin.

Only in servility under Jesus Christ our Lord can we be free from all of these things, plus freedom from human pressure, influence, demands, politics and affection!

And only then, can we have the freedom to be used of God to ’win’ souls for His Kingdom and their eternal freedom!

b.) TO CULTURE (vv. 20-21)

As a servant of Christ dedicated to the salvation of others, we must also be servants to their culture without sacrificing one’s own purity and integrity.

The issue here of the “law” and Jews versus Gentiles is largely one of culture and preference.

It is very important to understand that when Paul here speaks of “the law” he is NOT referring to the whole law of God, but to those areas of Old Testament law that have been made no longer necessary for salvation because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Nor is Paul declaring that he has freedom in Christ to do whatever he wants. Much to the contrary! The specific wording and grammar he uses refers specifically to not being “under” the law (that is, it’s own authority or saving work) but instead is “under” Jesus Christ and His will and teachings!

Dr. Ironside writes:

“He was not under the law nor was he without the law. He was neither subject to some legal ritual nor was he lawless . . . Neither under law nor without law, but legitimately subject to Christ.” (pg. 259).

Dr. Gordon Fee describes it this way:

“The difference, therefore, between his own behavior and that of his social companions is not in the behavior itself, which will be identical to the observer, but in the reasons for it. The latter abstain because they are ’under the law’; it is a matter of religious obligation. Paul abstains because he loves those under the law and wants to win them to Christ.” (NICNT, pg. 429).

The point is our motive and application of the principles of the law not the letters themselves. In Trinidad, most biblical Christians don’t go to the movies. In America, most do. Depending on the content, neither tradition is objectively right or wrong. When ministering in Trinidad, we follow their custom to avoid the movie theaters. When ministering in America, there are times we may even encourage Christians to go to the movies and invite their friends (Fireproof).


Again, Paul gives up/sacrifices his own concern for how he is received, perceived or treated in order to have the best possible chance to see others delivered from their sins and unto our gracious LORD!

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