Summary: I Corithians 9:19-27

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1 Corinthians 9:19-27


A. Verses 19 through 23 might sound like the words of a hypocrite to those who do not know Paul’s teaching.

B. He is really giving illustrations of how he adapts his ministry to win people to Christ.

C. He now uses athletic terms and illustrations to get across his teaching on Christian discipline (vv. 24-27).

I. The Race.

A. In a physical race, there is only one winner (v. 24).

1. In the Christian race, everyone can be winners.

2. Watch the way you run.

B. Those who compete physically go into strict training (v. 25).

1. Spiritual training should be a Christian lifestyle.

2. We should set aside everything that might hinder us in living for Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3).

C. In the physical race, the crown will not last (v. 25).

1. The crown was often a wreath. It represented honor but it was not lasting.

2. Our crowns, or rewards, as a Christian are eternal.

3. We should be more willing to exercise discipline because of a lasting reward.

D. We are not to run aimlessly (v. 26).

1. Every race has three characteristics.

a. A starting point.

b. A marked course.

c. A goal or finish line.

2. The Christian race has the same three characteristics.

a. The starting point is the new birth (John 3:3). This is our acceptance of Christ as our Savior.

b. We have a marked course of Christian living. The fruit of the spirit, in contrast with the acts of the sinful nature, illustrate this (Galatians 5:16-25).

c. Our finish line is Heaven.

3. No one can run a race successfully if they do not abide by these three characteristics.

II. The Fight (v. 26).

A. Paul may be referring to so called “shadow boxing.

B. This is a real fight.

1. It is a fight between good and evil.

2. It is a fight between Heaven and Hell.

3. It is a fight between Christ and Satan.

C. Every Christian is a part of this fight. We are not just to go through the motions of fighting.

III. The Discipline (v. 27).

A. Paul reminds us that he controls his body. He makes it his slave.

1. Some philosophies had taught that the body was evil and it made no difference how we used it.

2. Paul teaches that the way we live in the body is very important to God (Romans 12:1-2).

B. Paul doesn’t want to be disqualified.

1. We are qualified by Christ (Colossians 1:12).

2. We must not be disqualified by a lack of discipline.


Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. Paul lived out his teaching. He tells us that he “fought the good fight,” he “finished the race,” and he will receive the crown.


In the great Indianapolis 500, it is the car that is qualified, not the driver. The driver qualifies the car. Christ qualifies us when we come to him as Savior (Colossians 1:12).

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