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And one can’t help but see the very close connection between the closing of 1 Corinthians 9, and the scene painted for us in Judges 3.
Both have to do with understanding the role of struggle in the Christian life.
God had warned the people of Israel that once they had entered the Promised land, their work was far from over.
There were pockets of the Canaanites still to be found everywhere. And it was their job to continue to prosecute the war against these peoples who were under God’s judgment for their sins.
The message was clear – there will always be opposition to God’s people living as God’s people in obedience to Him.
So every effort must be expended to prevent them from being dragged back into idolatry and the other sins that go along with lives not lived in fidelity to God as Creator and King.
And then we see how this plays out in the Christian life today when the Apostle Paul calls Believers to have this same mindset in dealing with indwelling sin.
His admonition is for us to “run so that you may obtain it.”
To strive to walk in the freedom from the sins Christ has died to make atonement for.
To live like there really is a Heaven to be won and a Hell to be shunned as they used to say in previous generations.
No one cruises or stumbles into Heaven accidentally. Only those aiming to go there arrive.
Just as with the Israelite’s, God had promised them the Land, and yet, they still needed to take up the sword every day and gain the full ground granted to them, and then defend it against encroachments by others.
Christ has given us eternal life – and has promised us His Kingdom, which we already have one foot in. But beloved, there are many battles still before us.
Sin still crouches at the door, waiting for its opportunity to rise up and master us again. And as God told Cain in Eden – “But you must rule over it.”
Materialism. Greed. Envy. Laziness. Faithlessness. Anger. Idolatry which includes attempts to manipulate God for our own ends, strife, jealousy, drunkenness, sexual immorality, distraction by the World. These and countless others are our own barbarians at the gates – waiting to drag us back into lives that give God no glory, and end only in destruction.
As Paul ends 1 Corinthians 9 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run – but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it…I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Don’t be afraid to fight for all the freedom that belongs to you in Christ. Put on the full armor of God, and stand.
He intends for you to triumph.
Let that soak into your soul today.
God bless, and God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.