24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. 26 Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.You are not running or doing something to be saved (that’s already taken care of through the sacrifice of Jesus and the shedding of His blood). You are to run for the incorruptible crown that recognizes your true service for God.All Christians are in the race to serve Him. We are all pursuing a prize. The question remains whether all of us are using the tools provided through training and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need the training to be able to run effectively for the prize. Our goal is to be victorious in the race, and not to leave anything out of our efforts.
Our training is a strict training. It is a struggle, and sometimes it can be agonizing and painful. God’s grace, nonetheless, surpasses all discomfort and pain that we, as Christians, will experience.
You are to train in order to contend with adversaries and be prepared to fight. The opposition wants to keep you from living in righteousness.
You are to live under self-control and to self-govern yourself. These are to bring your training into action to resist your opposition while learning to love God more and more while keeping His commands.
For athletes, it was necessary to abstain from unwholesome food, wine and sexual indulgence.
Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:25 to observe the world–it runs for a crown that fades away.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Our works will follow us. They have an eternal, lasting value.
Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”
We serve for a crown that will last forever and will not fade; as a result, we do not run aimlessly but to please God. All of this is done while we face a raging war from within:
But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted with things that take you off of the focus of running for the prize.
1 Timothy 4:7
But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness.
Your eyes are to remain fixed on Jesus.
…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
In running the race, you must be:
1. Pure in body
2. Sober of mind
3. Willing to endure
We train the body to be controlled by our mind through self-denial and self-discipline.
2 Corinthians 10:4b-5
We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.
Galatians 5:16, 22-23
16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
We run this race to win in that our accomplishments for Jesus Christ will not fade away. It is the incorruptible crown that we strive for and that will ultimately glorify God.