Follow Hard After Christ
1 Corinthians 9:27(a) (NLT) 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. . .
Paul says again, in verse 27, I train myself to do what I should. Do you see it? I train my body, all that I am, to do what it should. So, it’s not the training in and of itself that deserves something or earns us something. It’s not the effort in and of itself that earns us something or gives us something. Paul says I’m training my body to give up what I need to give up.
We have a whole series called “Give Up.” It’s one of my favorite series. It’s about surrendering everything to the Lord. Just give up, man. Just give it over to the Lord, give in to his will. Surrender to him. It’s a very personal series for me.
And Paul says, listen, I train my body to give up what I need to give up. I train myself to surrender what I need to surrender. I train myself to roll over to the Lord what I need to roll over to the Lord. Do you see it?
So, it’s not just being, you know, kind of a meathead linebacker and pushing through. It’s about training – Paul says I train my body to do what it should to conform me, to transform me into the image of the Lord.
It’s always about the battle between the flesh and the spirit, you know that, right? Our life with Christ, the race that we run with Christ, is all about the battle between the flesh and the spirit (Galatians 5:17). These two forces (meaning the spirit and the flesh) are constantly fighting each other so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. If you want the spirit to overcome the flesh, then you’ve got to train the spirit and feed the spirit. If you want to let the flesh overcome the spirit, then go ahead and train the flesh and feed the flesh.
You feed the spirit; the spirit gets strong. You feed the flesh, guess what? Don’t we know that the power of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to absolutely crucify the flesh in every situation? Don’t we know that the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is sufficient for me to follow Jesus in every situation? Don’t we know that? I mean, practically, theologically, we know that.
Then why do we possibly know someone, a church attending Christian, a Believer, full of the Holy Spirit, but still being taken out every day by the flesh? Why is that? Do they not have the Holy Spirit? Did God short them on the power of the Holy Spirit? Did they only get a little bit? No! They have the full power. If they’re a Believer, if they’ve received Christ – Christ came with the Holy Spirit, Christ sent the Holy Spirit, and they need to pray for more power and continue praying as Jesus says in Luke 11, but they have the power.
But here’s the deal. The trigger that sets off the power of the Holy Spirit in your life is your obedience. It’s your choice. It’s you saying, “I don’t want to do this, and I’m going to do it anyway. And I don’t want to say no to that, and I’m going to say no anyway. And I’m going to follow Christ when it hurts. And I’m going to do what he says when I don’t want to. And I’m going to train myself to do what I don’t want to do because I know that’s the flesh that wants me to do that. And I know if I choose the Spirit, God will empower me with the Spirit, and it will overcome the flesh, and I’ll be able to run the race to win.” Amen?
It’s hard to follow Jesus. It’s hard to follow him in this world. It takes actual sacrificial discipline and determination to every day, wake up and follow Jesus with everything you’ve got. And it’s worth it! It’s eternally worth it!
Do you have an Alone With God journal? If not, you can order one at wordbymail.com and follow along with us.
Journal: 1 Corinthians 9:27(a) (NLT) 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. . . After thinking about today’s verse, what is the Holy Spirit speaking into your life right now? In what way does this verse apply to your life, personally and specifically? In the Apply section of your journal, write how this verse affects you today. Then, in the Respond section of your journal, write down what action you will take today in response to this verse. Maybe it is physical action. Maybe it’s choosing to respond in your heart according to God’s Word. How are you going to respond to this scripture today? Finally, in the Pray section, write out a prayer to God in response to this time with him. Ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to make this scripture real in your life.
Prayer: God, thank you that when we accepted Jesus, we received the Holy Spirit into our lives. We pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to do your will in our lives, to train ourselves for what you would have us to do. We commit to surrender in obedience to you, today. Thank you, Lord, for speaking to us through your Word. Help us to apply this truth to our lives in an honest and personal way. For your glory, Jesus, and in your name, amen.