Wednesday, 24 September 2014
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27
To finish chapter 9, Paul shows the severity of the conditioning he placed upon himself in order to obtain his crown. He had just said that he fought, not as one who “beats the air.” Using a boxing metaphor, he showed that like a boxer, he made every “punch” count in his training and in his fight to share the gospel. Now he continues on with the boxing metaphor. The word translated as “discipline” is the Greek word hupópiazó. It means to “strike under the eye” and thus to bruise, like a black eye. It is from the Greek word hupópion which is the part of the face under the eyes. It’s used only one other time in Scripture, in Luke 18:5. There it is speaking of the widow who troubles the judge as she continuously comes before him seeking justice.
Paul strove in the same manner as she did, continuously bringing his body “into subjection.” Here he uses an interesting term, doulagōgō. It means to bring into captivity or slavery as one would do when leading the losers of a battle off the battlefield. In this then, Paul is saying that his mortal flesh was the continuous loser in his battle. It was the flesh against the Spirit and the Spirit in him was always the victor. All of the worldly lusts and temptations were brought into this state of captivity, as he says, “lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Here he was telling others to remain pure and undefiled in their walk. It would be hypocritical to act differently than how he preached. What a sad thing to stand at the judgment seat of Christ next to those he had preached to and have them receive greater rewards than he because of failing to bring his passions into subjugation! In order to avoid this, he lived as he preached. The term he uses for “disqualified” is adokimos. It comes from the idea of “bad metals.” It indicates the metals that are put into the fire and fail the test for purity. They are scraped off and removed; they are worthless slag and thus are cast away.
Paul was determined to be pure and undefiled when he stood before the Lord and so he disciplined himself in a way that this would come about.
Life application: Paul’s words here at the end of chapter 9 show that he struggled with the flesh like anyone else. If he had to discipline himself against it, it is an indication that discipline was needed. If we have a problem with weight, we won’t lose the weight without working out our diet. If we have a problem with an addiction, it won’t solve itself. Instead it will need to be brought under control. This is the way it is for all things contrary to the word of God. We can either slip comfortably into rebellion or we can fight against it. Let us be found approved by adhering to the word and standing fast in the battle which rages within us!
Lord, the flesh certainly does put up a fight
I cannot deny that it wages war against me
I struggle back at each punch and bite
And focus my eyes so that You are all I see
Lord, help me in this raging battle
Keep me close to You and obedient to Your word
As the snake hisses and his tail does rattle
Be with me and protect me, this I pray my Lord
You went to the cross to win the war for us
And so I know that You will be with me, my precious Lord Jesus
Lord, You know the conflicts that rage within me. You know my weaknesses and those things which tempt me. Help me Lord to stand strong against the devil and his use of these things which can only make me lose my sight of You. Give me the strength and determination to get into Your word each day and to remain obedient to it at all times. I’m so weak Lord, but in You I know that I have all the strength I need. Thank You for this assurance. Amen.