Monday, January 5, 2009

What Are Your New Year's Resolutions? - Part Three

I want to round out this series on bringing the flesh into submission with a very familiar passage from 1 Corinthians 9. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Running the race (persevering in the Christian life) is about how you run. The goal is in mind, but it is only accomplished if you run in such a way to endure and make it to the end. A marathon runner who stops in mile number one of his twenty-six mile journey and eats four double cheeseburgers chased down by a chocolate milkshake will not run nor finish well. . . if at all. And the runner’s disciplines started long before race day. If one just burst on the scene of a race without knowing how to run or how to train, he will not succeed. The same is true in Paul’s analogy. And, because the physical is so inexplicably linked to the spiritual, the body must be brought into subjection as we run toward the goal of knowing Him more.

Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Controlling one’s self is crucial. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection. The word discipline, often translated as buffet, literally means to deliver a punch to the face, just below the eye. Paul is not requiring self torture or mutilation, but is showing us the severe stances we must take against our flesh. Christ said something along a similar line when He said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” This is the kind of stance we are talking about here. It is a stance that is ready to bring the flesh under the control of the Spirit.

It will not be easy. The flesh will resist and fight. But as it quiets down and comes under God’s authority, you will see the spiritual wealth to be gleaned. I think this may be an often overlooked aspect of the much misunderstood principle of fasting. The flesh, being brought under control, subsides and submits to the Spirit of God in ways that are hard to describe.

I want to know my God more. Knowing Him surpasses anything the flesh and world have to offer. But our flesh can be a difficult customer to convince. Therefore we must be resolute in seeing the diminishing of the flesh, and the gain of the men and women Christ calls us to be. We belong Him. We are not our own. And through His word and Spirit, we can come to know Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
There are areas of my life, my flesh, that need to die so that I can know even more the excellencies of the one I call Savior!

Romans 8:12-13 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit, you but to death the deeds of the body, you will live.


1 comment:

  1. As children of God we all need to learn how to bring this flesh under control and it's one of the hardest thing to learn.It's much easier to give in.Just try not to think about going to God with it and letting Him help us with our weaknesses. The flesh is strong but with God's help it can be defeated for God said in Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.The flesh can be conquered if we let God be in control.
    Thanks I needed this for a new start this year.God Bless RTM.