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Disciplined to Finish

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Finishing The Race

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Disciplined to Finish

1 Corinthians 9:24–27 KJV 1900
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
1 cor
1 Corinthians 9:27 KJV 1900
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Paul is stating when it all said and done he does not want to be a castaway.
Put aside - put on the shelf
He want to finish strong .....
He says the same thing as a praise in
2 Timothy 4:7 KJV 1900
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
2 tim 4.
Finished my course.
The reference is to finish ...
The Christian life is a disciplined life that cane be finished ....
Again the object of fear for Paul was that he would be put away as a castaway ....
This does not imply that you can loose your salvation but you may be put on the shelf
Dad that got so involved in business that church and family suffer
Mom that gets bitter and angry over her financial status
A teen that just does not have time to read the bible
Ladies and gentlemen the race requires discipline .
Acts 20:24 KJV 1900
24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Hebrews 12:1 KJV 1900
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 12:1–2 KJV 1900
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I Finishing Requires Endurance

1 Corinthians 9:24–25 KJV 1900
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
1 Corinthians 9:24 KJV 1900
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
Illustration - Charlotte Marathon
Illustration - Charlotte Marathon
Illustration - Charlotte Marathon
Relay - 3-5 miles their race
1/2 marathon - their race
Marathon - my race
Just outside the city of Corinth, on the Isthmian Plain, triennial Greek games were held.
These games were famous. At the time of Paul’s writing they even overshadowed the Olympian games. The Corinthians were proud of these games, the chief glory of their city. Paul draws on this important athletic event for an illustration as to how we should live in view of the judgment seat cf Christ.
Well, if we are to take seriously the numerous warnings and exhortations that are presented in the New Testament, we had better consider the possibility that our endurance is not so certain.
Paul pictures a race. The word he uses is stadion, denoting a stadium or a racetrack. The stadium with which the Corinthians were familiar measured about 600 feet (Greek) or about an eighth of a Roman mile. Traces of the great Corinthian stadium where the games were held are still discernible on the isthmus.
While our salvation is quite certain and totally secure, our success in our Christian lives and ministries is not.
In 9:24, Paul tells us to run the Christian race with the intent to win the prize at the end of the race.
In 9:24, Paul tells us to run the Christian race with the intent to win the prize at the end of the race.
“Run!” says Paul.
He urges the believer to get into the race, to try to win, to train to win. Christianity is not a spectator sport—or, if it is, we are not the spectators; other eyes than ours are watching (); we are the contestants.
“Run!” he says. We are all in the race, like it or not.
Paul sees not only a contest, he sees a crown: “Now they do it,” he says, “to obtain a corruptible crown” (). In the context he uses two words. The word prize is brabeion, which refers to the prize bestowed in connection with the games. The word is akin to brabeus (an umpire) and to brabeuō (to decide, to arbitrate). The crown is the stephanos, a chaplet made of perishable material such as wild olive, parsley, wild celery, or sometimes pine. Greek athletes would go to great lengths to win such a crown. We see the same thing even to this day, only now the Olympic Games are televised and watched by millions, and the prizes for outstanding and extraordinary feats of skill and endurance are medals.
Paul sees, too, a contrast: “But we [do it to obtain] an incorruptible [crown]” (9:25c). His eye is on that coming day when the Lord will reward those who have been overcomers in the race down here. A forgotten poet has captured the idea. He says,[1]
Now whenever Paul uses this question he is confident that his readers already know the answer.
This passage is no exception. Paul’s audience knows that in any race there can only be one winner.
[1] Phillips, J. (2009). Exploring 1 Corinthians: An Expository Commentary (). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp.
Fortunately, Paul uses plural verbs and the exhortation is not “you” singular but “you” plural. Paul is saying, “You all run in such a way that you all may win.”
The prize is offered to each and every believer.
Unlike a foot race, we’re not competing against each other. Every Christian can win the prize. That’s good news because there will always be someone faster, stronger, or smarter than us. But that’s okay, because you and I are running against opportunities God gives us, not what He gives other Christians. We are competing against ourselves.
Hebrews 12:1 KJV 1900
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
What does faithful running look like? Who are those who run in such a way that they may win?
Christians who finish their lives still growing, still serving
Senior saints that persist in daily prayer until the Lord calls them home
Christians who finish their lives still growing, still servingSenior saints that persist in daily prayer until the Lord calls them homeHusbands and wives who stay faithful to each other “until death do us part”Young people who preserve their virginity until marriage, in spite of crushing peer pressurePastors who stay passionate about ministry until their last breathChurch members who weather the rougher patches and remain joyful, loving, and faithful
Christians who finish their lives still growing, still serving Senior saints that persist in daily prayer until the Lord calls them home Husbands and wives who stay faithful to each other “until death do us part” Young people who preserve their virginity until marriage, in spite of crushing peer pressure Pastors who stay passionate about ministry until their last breath Church members who weather the rougher patches and remain joyful, loving, and faithful
Husbands and wives who stay faithful to each other “until death do us part”
Young people who preserve their virginity until marriage, in spite of crushing peer pressure
Pastors who stay passionate about ministry until their last breath
Today, you may be thinking, “I’m not running well. In fact, I’m barely in the race at all. What should I do?”
Today, you may be thinking, “I’m not running well. In fact, I’m barely in the race at all. What should I do?”
Church members who weather the rougher patches and remain joyful, loving, and faithful
Today, you may be thinking, “I’m not running well. In fact, I’m barely in the race at all. What should I do?”
The running metaphor works like this: When a person believes in Jesus Christ he or she becomes a runner in the Christian race.
So if you are a Christian, whether you like it or not, you are a runner. Paul finishes 9:24 with these words: “Run that ye may obtain.”
Paul issues a command, “Run! Don’t walk. Don’t stop. Don’t sit down. Run because you can win the prize!”

II Finishing Requires Training and Sacrifice

Understood properly, then, the prize that Paul is speaking of is a reward that may or may not accompany salvation. The Christian’s prize is the honor and glory of eternal rewards.
It is the joy of hearing Jesus say, “Well done!” (, ) This is the amazing grace of God. We receive salvation as a free gift and then the Lord blesses us on top of that with temporal and eternal rewards for faithfully serving Him. What a God!
So what does faithful running look like? Who are those who run in such a way that they may win?
1 Corinthians 9:25 KJV 1900
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Christians who finish their lives still growing, still servingSenior saints that persist in daily prayer until the Lord calls them homeHusbands and wives who stay faithful to each other “until death do us part”Young people who preserve their virginity until marriage, in spite of crushing peer pressurePastors who stay passionate about ministry until their last breathChurch members who weather the rougher patches and remain joyful, loving, and faithful
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,”
The phrase translated “striveth for mastery ” comes from the Greek wordagonizomai. We get our word “agony” or “agonize” from it.
The phrase translated “striveth for mastery ” comes from the Greek wordagonizomai. We get our word “agony” or “agonize” from it.
So Paul is talking about some heavy-duty sacrificial striving here.7
Verse 25 also tells us that competing for the prize requires “self-control in all things.”8
What does it mean to “exercise self-control in all things?”
Well, remember that Paul’s analogy is training for the Isthmian games.
All of the events in these games were one-person individual sports. Hence, these athletes could not coast in their training; rather, they had to go all out! What did this require?
It required many months and even years of sacrificial discipline and rigorous self-control.
These athletes kept a strict diet. They made sure they got the proper amount of sleep each night. They trained daily for their particular events.
They performed strength and cardiovascular exercises. They often abstained from drinking and immorality. They ate, drank, and slept succeeding in their particular event.
Why did these athletes go to such great lengths? They did it to obtain a “perishable wreath”—a paltry vegetable crown of celery.9
Of course, this crown eventually withers away. It is here one day and gone the next.10
Most people don’t remember who won last year’s championship. This is old news. Next season is coming up. The question becomes, “What have you done for me lately?”
Now if athletes are willing to undergo this type of discipline and self-control, how much more so should we as servants of Jesus Christ?
For unlike the athletic crown, our victor’s crown will affect us forever and ever. Paul states that our reward is “imperishable”—it is eternal!
This means it does matter whether we gain or lose the prize. Hearing Jesus say “Well done!” is no small matter. Think about that for just a moment.
Only what you and I do for Jesus Christ will last. And it will last and last and last. Forever is a long time. And we only have 70 or 80 years to invest in eternity.
That is why I pray like Jonathan Edwards, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!” We must run and fight for the prize, for living for God’s approval requires finishing well.
I realize that very few people would say self-control is one of their greatest strengths.12 Yet, Paul tells us that self-control is necessary if we are to win the prize.
heb 12.1
So may I ask you: In what area(s) of your life do you need to exercise self-control?
Do you need to exercise self-control in your media intake?
Do you watch too much TV?
Do you play too many video games?
Do you surf the web for too many hours?Do you need to exercise self-control in your leisure?
Do you spend too much time working out?
Does your hobby come in the way of your relationship with God and your family?
Do you need to exercise self-control in your friendships?
Are your friends more important to you than your God?
Are your friends keeping you from being all that God wants you to be?
Do you need to exercise self-control over an addiction?
Is food a drug to you? Are you a Christian glutton? Do you drink or smoke too much?
Are you addicted to sleep? Do you need to repent for laziness?
Paul says, “NO” to flabby Christianity! The Christian life demands discipline!
To finish requires discipline
Now again, let me clarify that the Christian life is NOT a race to achieve entrance into heaven.
We are saved by grace, not by effort or discipline or obedience or good works or anything else we do. We are saved by believing, not by achieving.
We are saved for good works, not by good works.
Still, the Christian life is a race, a race to accomplish what God put us here for, a race to present ourselves approved unto God, a race to finish in a way so as to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Living for God’s approval requires finishing well.

III Finishing Require Drive

1 Corinthians 9:26–27 KJV 1900
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
i cor 9.26-
you are not going to quit
you are not going to be sidelined
you want that finishers medal
Akron marathon 2014 - woman had two knee replacements would not quit.
Verse 26 begins with the word “Therefore.” Paul often uses this word to reflect on what he has previously said. He has just stated that “the prize” lasts for eternity.
Therefore, he writes that he doesn’t run aimlessly, for only those headed toward the finish line qualify for the prize.
A race the gun goes off and all run in different directions
Philippians 3:14 KJV 1900
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Beating the air - shadow boxing
Seriously, some of us are great shadow-boxers. We make loud noises about our faith when we’re in church and on social media how spiritual we are ....
In fact, many of us are so ill-prepared that we are a sitting duck for the sucker punches landed by those who deny the faith!13
Yet, Paul informs us that only those who stay in the ring, duke it out, and make every blow count qualify for the crown.14
We are to note Paul’s drive. He is in the race! He is in the ring! He is in to win. He says, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air” (9:26). The word for uncertainly is adēlōs. It occurs only here. It means that Paul was in the arena with a clear understanding of the conditions and the object in view. He knows what he is up against. He is determined to be a winner. He makes no apology for his desire to win the prize[1]
Paul concludes this paragraph by expressing a sincere fear that he himself could fail to win the prize.
In Alice in Wonderland there is a scene where Alice asks Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The cat replies, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice says, “I don’t much care where...” and the cat replies, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” Alice says that she just wants to get somewhere, and Cheshire Cat tells her, “Oh, you’re sure to do that if you only walk long enough.” We are certain to end up somewhere. The important question you must ask yourself is, “Where am I going?”15
vs 27 - discipline
Paul concludes this paragraph by expressing a sincere fear that he himself could fail to win the prize. Instead of running aimlessly or shadow-boxing (9:26), Paul makes this contrasting statement, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached16to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”17 With the judgment seat of Christ in mind, Paul writes, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave.” The word translated “discipline”18 literally means “to strike under the eye” or “to beat black and blue.” Paul beat his body into submission doing all that he could to ensure his success. He deliberately knocks himself into unconsciousness, so to speak, thus bringing his body into “slavery.”19
Most people, including many Christians, are slaves to their bodies. Their bodies tell their minds what to do. Their bodies decide when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, when to sleep and get up, and so on.
An athlete cannot allow that. He follows the training rules, not his body. He runs when he would rather be resting;
12.1
he eats a balanced meal when he would rather have a chocolate sundae; he goes to bed when he would rather stay up;
and he gets up early to train when he would rather stay in bed.
An athlete leads his body, he does not follow it. It is his slave, not the other way around.
Many of us hate the word “discipline” as much as “self-control.”
Yet, Paul says both are necessary. However, being disciplined in your Christian life doesn’t mean being straitlaced, sober, and sad.
It means measuring everything you do by the goal of pleasing Christ. Discipline means asking yourself, “Is what I’m doing now going to help me win my Christian race later?” If you struggle with discipline, consider a workout routine and partner.
Paul’s biggest fear was being a castaway
Disciple keep us in the game.
Coach is the pastor
As we contemplate the issue of God’s approval, we must recognize that Paul had four specific disqualifying sins in mind as he was writing these four verses. How do I know that? Notice the first word in 10:1—the word “For.” That little word “for” (gar) is a bridge that continues Paul’s warning. The sins that Paul identifies are idolatry (10:7), immorality (10:8), testing God (10:9), and grumbling against God (10:10). Each of these sins was enough to keep Israel from finishing their race and winning the prize. They can do the same to us today if we do not continue to seek Christ’s approval.
The phrase translated “I have fought” (agonismai) is one word in the Greek. Interestingly, it is a form of the same word that was used in 9:25 that was translated “competes according to the games” (agonidzomenos). Both of these passages deal with the doctrine of eternal rewards. Another interesting tidbit is: 1 Corinthians was one of the earlier books that Paul wrote and 2 Timothy was the last. What is the point? Paul finished his course because he kept his eyes fixed on the prize. Paul realized that living for God’s approval requires finishing well.
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