REMAINING DISCIPLINE: BEAT MY FLESH TO SUBMISSION
In First Corinthians chapter 9, in the New King James Version of the Bible, there are 3 main subtitles listed there. A Pattern of Self-Denial, Serving All Men and Striving For a Crown. Now, my goal for this post is to work my way to my main point, which is 1 Corinthians chapter 9, verse 27. But let’s ease into it today. So, open your mind, heart, and Spirit to what the LORD THY GOD wants to speak to your heart today. So, let’s pray.
In the first 12 verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 9, the Apostle Paul incites his listeners by asking them a series of questions. We do not have time to consider them all but let’s look at a few together. Paul asks
These questions and others seemed like mindless questions. But they certainly are not. Here, Paul is addressing some serious scriptural offenses that were occurring in the Church. Many of which still exist in our churches today.
Some in the Corinthians congression of GOD were callous toward Paul over trivial matters. Enough so that some created much confusion, arguments, needles debates, and practiced fault-finding tactics not only to hinder Paul’s mission for Christ but also to hinder the gospel of Christ from being preached (1 Corinthians 9:12).
As an appointed apostle of Christ, Paul could not simply ignore such great notorious towards the truth or the gospel. He had to address and confront these slanderous behaviors and attitudes head-on. Paul addressed these individuals nitpicking behaviors by asserting his apostolical mission and authority. He logically subsists and defends his ministry by referencing his constitutional right by means of Christ and the Mosaical law. He also pointed out the fact that he as an apostle of Christ had denied his self-interest and even comforts for the sake of the gospel.
Despite Paul’s efforts to tackle such issues in the Body of Christ, as an apostle, he did not have an easy task. He was constantly met with opposition and often combated with discouragement and reproach by superficial Christians, false brethren, and immature saints. Paul’s character and reputation were always placed under a microscope and under attack not only from those outside of the church but even from within. A sad reality that still exists today.
And yet Paul never allowed these insinuated behaviors, attitudes, or actions, whether done in public or in secret, to prevent him from speaking and sharing the full gospel in a manner of how GOD was leading him as an apostle for Christ. Paul was not going to let a few self-righteous, prideful, self-willed men or women discredit, disgrace, or criminalize the Good News of the gospel, his reputation, or the works he was doing for Christ.
preach the gospel
Paul's focus in this Greek culture was to ‘preach the gospel’ no matter who took offense or how wrongly individuals interpret his intentions (1 Corinthians 9:16). To achieve this in an affectionally and effective manner, met that Paul had to antagonize (challenge, oppose, provoke, irritate, upset) and even be combative towards those who were trying to make a mockery over the gospel and his apostleship.
Paul not only had to address problems like idolatry, and rejection of Judeo doctrines like the trinity and the resurrection. But he also had to tackle issues in the Corinthians congression dealing with marriage and divorce, spiritual gifts, ethical differences, the role of men and women, immaturity, church discipline, sectarianism, etc. In fact, Paul declared at 1 Corinthians chapter 9, verse 16. “Yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”
woe is me
The Greek word for ‘woe’ in verse 16 is ouai (G3759) – primary for expressing grief or denunciation. Here Paul is pointing out to his listeners that he preaches the gospel with all convictions and truth not out of personal ambition or because it was a matter of choice. He preached because HE WAS CALLED. CALLED BY CHRIST TO BE AN APOSTLE FOR CHRIST. Therefore, it was and is something he must do. Paul felt compelled to resolve doctrine and practical problems within the local church, not for his own namesake or based on his own self-righteous biases or boasting. He wanted to see the church of GOD grow and prosper both on an individual level and as a congregation as a whole. His goal was not self-motivated. Or led by some false personal pretense (sham, deceit, imagination, hoax). Paul clearly understood that the church is the temple of GOD. Therefore, the SPIRIT OF THE LORD dwelt in the corporate body, which includes all members. Hence, his mission was not to tear down the Body of Christ but to build it up. But in doing so, Paul could not leave or neglect to address the existing issues, whether public or in secret, that exist in Corinth.
Part of building up the Body of Christ and individual members requires tearing down strongholds, wrongful behaviors, and attitudes, slanderous and idle talk, confronting backbiting, or all sorts of habits and behaviors that existed in the Greek culture that was influencing GOD’s congregation. (Compare to 2 Corinthians 10:4, Proverbs 27:17, Jeremiah 1:10).
To Paul, it did not matter if he had support from the local congregation or not. It was not primarily about them (the congregation of GOD). It was about preaching the full truth of the gospel, fulfilling the call Christ had placed on his life, acknowledging that he had been entrusted by GOD with this stewardship, and knowing, regardless of how the people responded to him or his message – he still is called by Christ; and as a result, of his faithfulness, he would obtain his reward in due season. Praise Jah!
Paul had no interest in abusing his authority in the gospel nor the gospel itself, as some were doing during this ministry (and some are still practicing this very day). Many doing Paul’s time were conducting themselves for the gospel as religious entrepreneurs. They preached the gospel for selfish gain, clout, and fame – charging for the message, a WORD, or prophetic utterance. Paul was a willing vessel that sacrifice himself, his ambition, his status, his fame, clout, and lot in life for the cause of Christ. What about you?
what may disqualifY you
Okay, let’s skip a few verses and drop down to the heart of our discussion at 1 Corinthians 9:27.
Paul did not want his body, his self-will, or ambition to hinder his forward progress in Christ. Therefore, he did not allow his body to lord over himself. He was a servant, a slave to and for Christ. Consequently, he had to deny himself to not yield to his fleshly inclination. Be that it may be lust, appetites, pampering himself, etc.
Paul did not possess an unhealthy view of denial either as some who thought they could pay for their sins through such practices as self-tortures. Refusing to acknowledge that Christ had already paid it all – the penalty for our sins at the Cross.
We too must not forfeit our promise of eternity with Christ by pursuing things that we should not, by allowing our flesh to dominate over us, and by letting our misplaced (inappropriate, erroneous, illogical, improper, misdirected) thoughts, and mindsets hinder the works of Christ through others like Paul.
MODERN-DAY APPLICATION: WHAT CAN WE LEARn
So what can we walk away with from this verse? In the previous verses, Paul says this.
Here Paul compares himself (as well as us) to an athlete who disciplines himself to win the prize. In order to win, an athlete must make necessary sacrifices in the way he or she eats, works out, manages his or her body, attitude – especially towards others, and even controls his mouth – the way he or she speaks about himself and others. An athlete workout not for the sake of just working out but for and with purpose. He or she understands that his body, his mind, and his thoughts, including his mouth, were used to do or say whatever it wants. But there is a bigger picture Paul had learned that we need to consider, especially after submitting to Christ.
If he failed to get a master over these things – his flesh, his thoughts, his mindset, his attitude, especially towards others, his mouth. That even he can become disqualified not by men but by Christ. He could lose out on eternal life and pleasing the One he has submitted himself to which is Christ. Therefore, he beats his flesh into submission – to do only all the things GOD had called him to do and say for the sake of the gospel, for Christ, for the Body of Christ, and its members.
God's word is for the edification, exhortation, and consolation; for teaching, reproving, correcting, and training so that every Christian is equipped for the work of service, to build up the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:3; 2 Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 4:12).
This blog is really not about me, but more about my Father and our relationship. How we interact with one another and my response to His prompting. To be honest, at the moment, I do not know what to expect from this blog. I have no idea how personal I will get, what exactly I will share, and how often I will do it. But one thing is for certain. I will share what God places on my heart to share.