The Body – PART 3:
16 Feb 14
(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Get Fit, Stay Fit!
If you’re in a small group, take some time to talk about the above statement:
• Is physical fitness one of your priorities?
• If so, what do you do to stay fit?
• What do you least like about the discipline of physical fitness?
• Do you come from a family where physical fitness was a priority?
Text: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Big Idea: Get Fit, Stay Fit!
The biannual Isthmian athletic games, second in importance only to the Olympic Games, were hosted and sponsored every other year by the people of Corinth. They were held only ten miles from the city so most people there would have been familiar with their goals and practices, as well as being able to observe and attend them. Paul himself was in Corinth in A.D. 50–52, so he would have been present for the Isthmian Games held in the spring of A.D. 51. These games included six events: wrestling, jumping, javelin and discus throwing, and, most importantly for Paul’s analogy, racing and boxing.
Now, with this background and the Corinthian problem of self discipline, is it any wonder that Paul weds these two ideas and writes one of the most well-known parts of his letter? So with this spiritual metaphor now in place, discuss the same questions again, but with a spiritual application:
• Is spiritual fitness one of your priorities?
• If so what do you do to stay fit?
• What do you least like about the discipline of spiritual fitness?
• Do you come from a family where spiritual fitness was a priority?
Question: What does Paul tell us about spiritual fitness?
1. THERE IS THE “THEY DO IT - WE DO IT” TENSION (V.24,25)
Describe the “they do it - we do it” tension in the text - what are the differences in the two types of runners?
“They do it” - a crown that will not last
The Olympic crown was made of wild olive leaves, and the Isthmian crown was made of pine or ivy. From the earliest periods of history, chaplets of leaves were bestowed upon heroes who had conquered on the field of battle. This wreathe was corruptible. It eventually took on the characteristics of cottage cheese in the back of the fridge.
“We do it” - a crown that will last forever
Check out the following verses on the crown. What was that crown? 2 Timothy 2:5; 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10; 3:11. I also think 1 Cor. 13:12 explains the crown. Who shall we see perfectly? The crown that doesn’t last was material and corruptible. The crown that lasts is ultimately a person, Jesus and His Kingdom!
The reality of the race is that not all are heading the same direction, not all are running for the same prize. Thus, how people run, how passionately they run, and the direction they run in will be different.
As we commit to being spiritually fit we need to realize that our focus, our crown, will determine the path we take, the types of disciplines we engage in, the kinds of priorities we arrange, the types of sacrifices we are willing to make and the ways we will invest our time, finances and talents. The prize determines the path I take.
Exercise: If someone could watch your life - 24/7- see everything- your thoughts and actions, private disciplines and ones most visible. What might they conclude about the “crown” you have oriented your life around?
What do you do daily to demonstrate that your life is not just pursuing the cottage cheese?
Do you sense, at times, the tension, “They do it - We do it” in your life? Are you ever deeply aware how radically different your life is in many ways because the crown that you are pursuing is so different than the world’s crowns?
What are examples of worldly crowns? How do you know when the worldly crowns are starting to seduce you and dilute your pursuit of Christ?
2. THE WAY TO FITNESS IS THROUGH TRAINING (v.25)
Training implies self- discipline, self-control. This was something many of the Corinthians were lacking. To train physically means I need to submit my body to a series of disciplines to transform it from one state to another. We condition the body to perform in a way that it will not unless we engage in training. The Corinthians were familiar with the training regimen that athletes had to go through. Paul is reminding them that to be spiritually fit - Get Fit, Stay Fit! - one needed to train. Once we come to Christ, training is what lines up our practice with our new title - sons and daughters of God.
One area where this is very obvious is in our thinking. Note what Paul says in Romans 12:1,2 about the importance of the renewal of the mind. The mind needs to be trained to think in new ways. What we often find with believers is that they are God’s kids living with the enemy’s lies. Those lies have a way of making the training process incredibly hard.
Exercise: Think about the wrong doctrine many believers live out of, and contrast it with right doctrine. I have given you a few examples to get started:
I am worthless
Nobody could love me
I can’t be forgiven
I will never measure up
I am created in image of God
I am His Son/Daughter
If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins (1 John 1:9)
What is the truth?
How does living out of bad doctrine affect relationships, one’s walk with God, self perception?
Where do people get this bad doctrine from?
What are you doing daily to make sure you are training your mind to live out of the right doctrine? - Psalm 1
3. THE TRAINING NEEDS TO BE A WHOLE-PERSON WORKOUT (v.26-27)
How does Paul not fight?
Who is Paul fighting in this metaphor?
The enemy he is describing is not some external foe who threatens his leadership, but his own desires.
The term “body” (“soma”) refers to Paul’s entire person. It is not one of three aspects of mankind. It often stands for the whole person. Read Rom. 12:2, Phil. 1:20.
Spiritual training involves inviting the Lordship of Christ to invade every area of a person’s life. Check out the floor plan below and discuss the following questions:
What makes letting God into a particular rooms so hard?
What is it about the teachings of the church that make some people think it is okay to keep God out of some rooms?
How does this picture help explain sanctification for you?
How do we end up hurting others when we don’t let God into the rooms of our lives?
Discuss the following:
Only when we are willing to live in reality is God able to do a deep work.
How does keeping God out of various rooms create a pseudo-reality?
Have you ever needed help from some trusted friends to allow God into a room that has been closed off for years?
Often, when we allow God in, there may be be sin to confess, lies to correct, pain that needs to be healed (click below to see the whole picture).
As we close we come to some very sobering words. Paul talks about being “disqualified”. I don’t believe, based on context and the bulk of Paul’s writings that this is referring to salvation. I think Paul is talking about Christians who have trained poorly, Christians who have “preached to others” but are shelved because of poor training practices.
There is nothing sadder than when someone so gifted, so used by God gets set aside because of poor training.
Thus the need to heed Paul’s words and to embrace the whole counsel of Scripture that demonstrates we need the Spirit of God to keep us faithful, the word of God to keep us rooted, the body/Church to keep us accountable.
Get Fit, Stay Fit!
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