1 Corinthians 9:26-27 “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 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, here, speaks to the fight that every child of God has in common – keeping the flesh in check. He knew what he was talking about! In Romans 7, he very eloquently speaks the the fight we all got through:
Romans 7:15-19 “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
He says, ‘I want to do right, but my flesh and my desires are in direct opposition to the good that I know I should be doing’. And when I know I should do right – I don’t! So, being left with our free will to choose, Paul points us to the character choice we all must make: bring our body into subjection. What does that mean exactly?
It means that if fasting is needed for a soul to be saved, we set aside the hunger we may experience for the greater good of seeing that one saved – whatever the cost. It means that when sleep or fatigue overcomes our body and a brother or sister in Christ needs our help, we push beyond our needs for theirs to be met.
It means that if God is calling me to teach a Sunday school class and I am deathly afraid, I must go beyond my fear and believe that God will supply me with what is needed to that which Has called me. Driving a bus, cleaning the church, cooking a meal, visiting a jail, a nursing home, a shut-in, mentoring a teenager, singing in the choir, handing out gospel tracts… There is no lack of positions to be filled in our churches today.
It means saying “No.” to our wants and desires and putting those of others in the forefront. Some will vocalize opposition that it infringes on their ‘family time’ or planned rest, or some such thing. The devil always offers up excuses as to why we cannot do what it is that God reveals to us we should do. Some cry ‘balance or burnout’.
In most of our churches, 10% does 90% of the work and if there was a shared responsibility of the tasks and ministries throughout our churches, it would truly surprise us how much we could see done for the cause of Christ – and still have our needed time at home with and for family.
But I must also personally watch for my own soul as well. For Paul warns us that if I do the work and do not guard against the devil’s attacks, I will fall prey to my own desires and slowly or swiftly be led astray. We give ourselves permission to do some of the most foolish things.
Hours are literally wasted watching empty and harmful things that imbed images on my soul that can never be erased. Our ears are subjected to filth and hearts are presented with things the world accepts and God’s Word says is an abomination.
You and I are left with a choice: do we choose to feed the flesh and reap the fruit it brings? Or do we feed our spirits with the pure, perfect Word of God and draw ever closer to our heavenly Father to get the strength and power available to combat my own flesh and desires when they seek to overpower us?
It is a daily and seemingly minute-by-minute battle for control. But the sweet rewards that God has for us when we trust Him to see us through are invaluable. Peace in our hearts, blessings that He daily loads unto us and power we do not posses to do that which He has called us to do.