“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 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.” 1st Corinthians 9:24-27
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:11
So we have gotten through knowing that we are to be examples, now what? What are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to live? What are the biblical examples of our faith and how we are to conduct ourselves?
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” 1st Corinthians 3:9
When it comes to sports, I’ve never been much of a good competitor. When I was younger I played Little League for years, I was on the basketball team in school for one season, as well as the soccer team. While I still enjoying shooting hoop, playing against those who are also not team players, certainly my aim is not as good as it should be. With bicycling I had a different story.
When I was young I used to be an average bike rider, that was until I made a new friend who was totally into bike riding. I had put a Mongoose Sycamore on layaway at a local bike shop and eventually paid it off, trading in my well used Huffy bike. During one summer he invited me to go bike riding with him nearly every day.
Here was a guy who could pedal and pedal his bike endlessly. The first day I rode with him, we went nearly 10 miles. I struggled and was out of breath keeping up with him, I persisted. We had a hill in Petoskey, Michigan that went up Division Road and quite the hill it was. I used to bike up it with my Huffy (a back way to my childhood home), but I would always end up walking the rest, about half way up. If I wanted to ride with him, I had to press on, I had to keep going.
In about mid-summer I had found that my biking became much better than the average. I continued on biking with my friend and now could keep up with him. We biked further and further, sometimes up to 50 miles in one day. My average speed when I started was 14 miles per hour, by August I was up to 24 miles per hour, I was fast and like my friend, we would leave others behind us. Eventually the youth group that I attended had a long bike ride up to Mackinaw City and back, to me it was a peice of cake, even some of the large rolling hills in the back country of Harbor Springs, Michigan. I hadn’t realized how good I became and how much strength I had gained by my junior year in high school.
Starting school I was in gym class and we would be given the opportunity to spend some time in the weight room. There using a leg press, I found myself to be the strongest out of all of the guys, being able to press the entire stack of 660 pounds, using my legs. I had started off in the race with my friend and was able to keep up with him by the end of the summer, perhaps even being able to surpass him, if I had been given the chance to see how long I could bike. Now eventually I bought a car and the bicycle became a relic, my strength eventually let out over years.
If you want to win a race, you have to actually get involved. How does one with a running race by walking? How does one win a race, without training themselves?
“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” 1st Timothy 4:13
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2nd Timothy 2:15
Just as there are rules that need to be known and adheeded to, so too as Christians, we need to know our Bibles. We need to study the work of God and be diligent, not only being hearers, but doers also.
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:22-25
If you are on a sports team, even a bowling team, you know that your teammates expect you to try your best. Not only that, they also expect you to be helpful to them. How valuable are you to them if you bring down their average? Now on every team there is only one who is the most valuable player, there is also the one who is the least, yet they are all on the team. In essence, there will always be those who do better than others. Not everyone is going to win the race or the game, but they are all going to play like they are trying to win. This is exactly the attitude that those in Christ should have regarding doing the things of God.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” Galatians 3:7
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2nd Corinthians 5:17
What this means is that just as if we find ourselves on a team in a gym playing a basketball game, a real game, we should find the same heart in ourselves in doing the work of Christ. Why?
“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” John 10:18
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1st John 3:16
In the first part of this article, we spoke of how Christ died on the Cross for our sins. Now we are focusing on not only how we should abstain from sin, but how we should be found running the race, doing His work. What further evidence could I possibly provide that would show the worthiness of the cause of this work, then simply the above verses?!
Jesus died on the Cross for us, we are to be dead to sin, alive to Christ (Ro. 6:11). Christ is our redeemer, we are to follow Him, period!
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” John 15:9-20
If you are still reading the article, then we will begin to address some of the unexpected shortfalls that can and do happen. Too often in a church it is assumed that the Christian life is a cakewalk, very easy, very simple. For those who are actually engaged in the warfare, we know that is not often the case. Though in America we know that things are MUCH easier than other places in the world. We can speak freely, I can publish these articles with little fear of retribution from the government. Yet without the foundation being Christ, our efforts are fruitless.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:13-27
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1st Corinthians 3:11
So what happens? Do Christians not count the cost (Luke 14:28-30)? As Jesus said, we will have persecution in this world (John 15:20). Perhaps this is something that even biblical churches do not touch on enough? We must remember that we are essentially at war, we are soldiers.
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” 2nd Timothy 2:3-4
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1st Peter 5:8-9
I mentioned my biking during my youth. Now imagine if I had put everything into riding my bike, but often as we stopped at Taco Bell or somewhere else to grab some lunch, someone let the air out of my tires. Imagine if I am trying to bike, to keep up with my friend, even beat him, and someone took and loosened all my spokes, so that my rims bent. What if as I was climbing a hill on my bicycle, another biker went by and gave me a good push, down into the ravine I went? Well contrary to popular belief, this is how the Christian walk usually is, yet God has given us armor for the battle. Do you have your armor on?
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”… Ephesians 6:10-18
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
So we must be careful not to entangle ourselves in the cares of this world (2 Tim. 2:3-4). However, we must also realize that even those who become gold medal winners in the Olympics, didn’t start off winning and win every single time. Our race lasts our lifetime, afterwards we are rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ, yet while we are in these bodies we strive, pressing on towards doing as we should.
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” 2nd Corinthians 5:8-11
“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1st Corinthians 3:12-15
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
So you continue on, you put air in the tires of your bike, you buy new rims and check to make sure they are tight before you go on a ride. When you see someone trying to push you down into the ravine, you stop on the side of the road and simply pray. You know that the strength is in your legs to continue on, even though you begin to tire, you keep going. One day you are eating your lunch at Taco Bell and you watch in horror as a garbage truck pops up on the curb, crushing your bicycle to pieces. You walk outside as they continue on down the road, refusing to stop. You stand, not knowing what to do. Strengthening yourself you begin to run, this time on foot.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:11-13
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6
There are sometimes all you can do is stand (Eph. 6:13), we press on. There are times many times in history where Christians have become martyrs and even in this present hour, there are still many in prisons, and even martyrs.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11
Run the race, run it with all of your heart and soul. Do what is right, follow Christ wholeheartedly. Do His work, do His bidding, do all to stand. Though this life is not the easiest, in comparison to eternity, it is not even a blink of the eye. Understand that this is serious business and there is a lost world out there who needs to know the Gospel.
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” 2nd Corintians 5:14-15
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:7-8