TEXT: 1 COR. 7:23; 8:13; 9:23 & 27 TIMOTHY 4:7;
"But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried
careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please
the Lord: .
"Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no
flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
"And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker
thereof with you."
"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 have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have
kept the faith:"
Previously on this line of thought, we arrived at a definite conclusion that not all battles are worthwhile: not all fights are worthy of our times and attentions. Some battles are better ignored than engaged! We also saw, from scripture, that there is such a thing as 'a good fight.' Hence, we shall turn to the one man that promulgated this concept, called 'a good fight' for what and what pass for a good fight: what this concept means, could be better grasped if we ask Apostle Paul. So we now turn to Paul.
The human nature stands in opposition to every thing and anything that streams from God: it is in partnership with Satan and all that he, the devil, represents. It is stubborn and arrogant. Its bent and proclivity are toward evil perpetually. It is slow or dead to respond to God but swift to carry out the will of the devil. It is one of the thing, if not the only thing, that stands in the way of God in this life! Man does not know that inherent in him, there is an enemy that must be overcome if he would know the true meaning of life!
The first war or fight a man must declare therefore, is a fight against himself! This is a good fight. From the scriptural texts above, we see Paul declaring war against himself. In the seventh chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, we see Paul suggesting why he never married, he maintains that marriage would distract him; that a man suppose to attend upon the things of God without distraction. He surmise that "He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord..." The crux of 1 Corinthians 7, therefore, is that, according to Paul, marriage can divide a man's attention! This is Paul's view not an absolute doctrine! He categorically tells us that this view is not a direct commandment of God.
What we have here is a man who turns the course of the battle against himself for the purpose of a greater good and purpose. He threw away the warm embrace of the female folks and the enjoyment of sexual satisfaction enclose within the four walls of marriage so that he can live without carefulnes and attend upon the Lord without distraction. This is a war against oneself. Marriage is good and should be desired. the same Paul, writing to Timothy, says that those who teaches celibacy are promoting the doctrine of demons. Does this suggest that Paul by this obvious divergent admonition contradicts himself? No, not at all! I cor. 7 is not a doctrine, but a personal war strategy used by Paul to promote the kingdom of God and the mandate given to him.
Are we suggesting celibacy? No! This is only illustrative of a fight and war to be declared against the human nature. Paul sees marriage as something that might clog his way in ministry, for that, he refuses to get married! Divine assignment cannot be carried out without a declaration of war against the human nature. Sometimes, if not all the times, legitimate privileges would be set aside in fulfilling destiny. Our likes and hates would be tempered with. Paul sacrificed the love of the woman just for the sake of the gospel. This is a good fight!
A fight or conflict with the good of the kingdom of God in mind, is a good fight. To drag an ox or a bullock to the door of the tabernacle is not an easy task! The Christian life is a continuous and daily dragging of an ox or bullock to the place of sacrifice. The human nature loves ease! Its loves sleeping, eating, resting and debates discomfort. it must be dragged to the alter all the time. No man, who has not declared war against himself, can really promote the kingdom of God!
Paul says, I die daily! This means, he wins the daily battles over himself all the time! It is this daily victory over self that pave ways for the manifestion of the son of God through us. Victory over self, is victory over the devil and a glory unto God. Men that engage in such fight are the most viable instruments in the hands of God. We cannot be seeing romancing the lower nature and still believe the business of the kingdom would prosper in our hands! The angels would ask us "why are you looking for the living among the dead?'
Moreover, by the eighth chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul was engaged in another war or fight with himself. Here it was a war against his appetite: his appetite would seem to stand on the way of the gospel. Look at his reasoning:
"Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no
flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."
If meat provokes sin in any man, I would avoid it! I would not be seeing eating meat through out my life so that I can avoid suffocating holiness in other! What a good fight! A fight that brings holy living and devotion to spiritual things, is a good fight. Paul's appetite for food is suspended for the purpose of others! What a fight against the human legitimate craving! Friends, what can you let go for God's sake? Do not think it was easy for Paul! The Jews are meat eating people...as a Pharisees, Paul was involved in several washing and eating...but turning to Christ, the appetite, so used to meat, has to be suspended, just for the sake of the gospel. A fight was declared against his appetite for meat. This is a good fight! A conflict for the purpose of establishing righteousness, is a good fight! The giving up of our freedom for the good of God's kingdom and others, is good fight.
Furthermore, by chapter nine, Paul put on the alter his apostolic privileges so that he would not "...hinder the gospel of Christ." A preacher is supposed to eat from the gospel. Moses says, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that thresheth the corns." (Vs9)
"Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of
the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are
partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."(1Corvss13-14)
"If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if
we shall reap your carnal things?"(vs11)
"Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges ? who planteth
a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth
a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"(vs7)
Servants of God are meant to be nourished from and by the gospel. We must honour their sacrifice and labour with our substance. They should not go to warfare at their own charges! They should eat the fruit of the vineyard planted by them and drink the milk of their flock: "... Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." Hallelujah! This is an infalable doctrine of the word of God! Straight from the fiery alter of the Holy parchment! These is known as an apostolic privileges!
Paul was an apostle, so the above privileges accrued to him! But he said: vs12
"If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all hings,
lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ." #KJV
"Others demand plenty from you in these ways. Don't we who
have never demanded deserve even more? But we're not going
to start demanding now what we've always had a perfect right
to. Our decision all along has been to put up with anything rather
than to get in the way or detract from the Message of Christ."
His purpose of giving up these privileges is so that he does not get in the way or distract from the gospel. This is a good fight! To be continued.
Emeka Joe Uzosike