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 Corinthians 9:27
Newer translations correctly render the word castaway as disqualified. Thus, Paul is saying, I let go of my liberty in order that I might win people to Jesus. Why? Because Im in a race for a prize which will affect who I am and what I do in the ages to come. Therefore, even though I am free to do all things, I can be disqualified if I dont keep my flesh under control, if I cause another to stumble ...
Favored to win the 1500 meter Olympic event, Mary Decker was in excellent shape and running her best times. But after the gun went off another talented runner, Zola Budd of South Africa, leaned into Mary Decker on the first curve, causing Decker to trip and fall and herself to be disqualified.
This is the reason Paul was determined to keep his body under control.
Before you were saved, your body was not under. Your body was on top. That is, your flesh was that which governed both your soul your mind and emotions and your spirit the real you which lives forever. To see how true this is, all you have to do is listen to the conversations which take place at work or on the campus, wherein youll hear the average person talk only about his body about his financial concerns and recreational pursuits, his occupational goals and physical needs. But when the natural man gets saved, suddenly everything is different. The flesh no longer dominates him. The spirit is now on top, and suddenly theres peace in his heart and life makes sense.
But because the flesh hates the basement, as time goes on, it demands to be on top again. And when it is, the new believers life is a mess, for to be carnally minded is death (Romans 8:6). So eventually, he gets to the place where he says, Lord, forgive me. Ive given in to the flesh again. He confesses his sin, turns his life back over to God, and his body is under once more.
Does this war have to go on daily, hourly, constantly? Paul says. 'Heres the key: I keep my body under. I will not allow my body to determine what I watch, read, listen to, or think about. I will keep my body in the basement.
How can this be accomplished?
Let me suggest to you one very practical way: How long has it been since youve said No to your stomach? How long has it been since youve said, Im going to use the hour I would have spent feeding my growling, demanding stomach in order to pull away and pray for my family, for the community and for myself because Im struggling with this temptation or that addiction? Thats called fasting. And I find it interesting that Jesus didnt say, If you fast ... , but, When you fast ... . (Matthew 6:16 - emphasis mine). When you say No to your stomach regularly, youll be amazed how much easier it will be to say No to the other temptations which plague you.
Fasting from food is only one of the many disciplines the Bible teaches not to be weird, but to be free. Another is saying No when your body says, Hit the snooze bar. Its saying, See, body, youre under. Youre not ruling me. Im out of bed. Im on my knees. Im in the Word. Its following the example of Jesus Who rose up a great while before morning to seek His Father.
I keep my body under, Paul says. Im tired of my body ruling over me and the death it brings inevitably. Therefore, My spirit, ruled by Gods Spirit, will be that which controls my soul my will, my personality, my emotions.
Youll never regret knocking fleshly pursuits out of your life, gang. I promise you, youll never regret the things you let go which would have tripped others and disqualified you; those things which would have wiped out your spiritual stamina and affected your endurance.
Are you as disciplined in your spiritual life today as you were a year or five years ago? Or has your appreciation for the Finished Work of the Cross and your understanding that your salvation is secure apart from anything you do or dont do skewed your thinking?
Yes, youre free, but have you used that liberty in a way thats tripping others and disqualifying yourself?
Use your liberty wisely, precious people. Keep your body under, for to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded brings abundant life and perfect peace.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon