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                 "THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS"

                     Obtaining The Prize (9:24-27)

INTRODUCTION

1. In our text (1Co 9:24-27), Paul alludes to the ancient Grecian
   games...
   a. Running in a race
   b. Fighting as a boxer
   c. Competing for a prize

2. He observes that there are principles common to both athletes and
   Christians...
   a. The need for motivation
   b. The need for self-control
   c. The need for exercise

3. These are necessary to "obtain" the prize...
   a. The Greek word translated "obtain" is katalambano
   b. It means "to apprehend, attain, obtain, find" - Complete WordStudy
      Dictionary
   c. "In allusion to the public games, to obtain the prize with the
      idea of eager and strenuous exertion, to grasp, seize upon"
      - ibid.

[Whether one is an athlete or a Christian, there are three things
necessary to "Obtaining The Prize"...]

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF MOTIVATION

   A. IN THE LIFE OF THE ATHLETE...
      1. The proper motivation is necessary to win
      2. Different motives make a difference in a race
         a. Some run to win
         b. Others run for their health
         c. The latter really don't care if they win or not
      3. The successful athlete is motivated by the gold medal or wreath
         - 1Co 9:25b
         a. A perishable crown, to be sure
         b. But one representing fame and glory, that motivates the
            athlete to excel

   B. IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN...
      1. The proper motivation is likewise necessary to win
      2. Different motives can make a big difference
         a. Some are Christians to please their conscience, or to please
            others
         b. Some are Christians because of the present blessings (peace
            of mind, fellowship)
         c. Such motives may have their place in the life of the
            Christian
      3. But the successful Christian is motivated by what lies at the
         end of the race
         a. An imperishable crown - 1Co 9:25c
         b. The crown of righteousness, which motivated Paul - 2Ti 4:
            7-8
         c. The incorruptible inheritance that awaits us - 1Pe 1:3-4;
            2Pe 3:13-14
         d. Just as Jesus endured the cross "for the joy that was set
            before Him" - He 12:1-2

[What motivates you as a Christian, running the race of faith?  Is it
"Obtaining The Prize" at the end?  If so, then you should also take
note of...]

II. THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-CONTROL

   A. IN THE LIFE OF THE ATHLETE...
      1. Successful athletes are 'temperate' in all things - 1Co 9:25a
      2. They exercise 'self-control' in such things as:
         a. Their diet
         b. The amount of sleep
         c. Following their training schedules
         d. Often foregoing many social activities
      3. Self-control means doing it even when one doesn't feel like it:
         "When it's pouring rain and you have to go and ride six hours
         in the mountains, there's no fun in doing that." - Lance
         Armstrong

   B. IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN...
      1. Self-control is just as necessary - 1Co 9:27
      2. It is necessary to overcoming "the works of the flesh" - Ga 5:
         19-24
      3. The indwelling Spirit is given to the Christian to aid us - Ga
         5:16; Ro 8:11-13
      4. But the aid of the Spirit does not remove any sense of struggle
         - cf. 1Pe 2:11
         a. We must still do things that seem difficult
         b. We must still do things even when we don't "feel like it"

[Self-control is a necessary complement to proper motivation.  Without
it, motivation alone will not succeed.  Along with motivation and
self-control is...]

III. THE IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE

   A. IN THE LIFE OF THE ATHLETE...
      1. The exercise performed by athletes is impressive
         a. Long distance runners train 10-20 miles a day
         b. Swimmers swim 10 miles a day to be competitive
         c. Gymnasts work out 8-9 hours a day
      2. Such exercise is essential
         a. To be competitive
         b. To endure the hardships of the competition
         c. To gain the victory!

   B. IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN...
      1. There is the need for godly exercise - 1Ti 4:8
         a. Offering benefits for the life which now is
         b. With promise for the life to come
      2. Examples of good spiritual exercise
         a. Diligence in rightly handling the word of truth - 2Ti 2:15
         b. Communing with the Lord in prayer - Php 4:6-7
         c. Meditating on things worthy of virtue and praise - Php 4:8
         d. Loving the brethren with sincerity - Ro 12:9-10
         e. Offering diligent, fervent service to the Lord and brethren
            - Ro 12:11-13

CONCLUSION

1. Certainly one engaged in such 'exercises' is a true spiritual
   athlete...
   a. Running the race of faith with certainty - 1Co 9:26
   b. Fighting the good fight with purpose - ibid.

2. Such efforts will not be in vain...
   a. When accompanied by the right motivation
   b. When joined with self-control

Are you "Obtaining The Prize"?  Make sure that you heed Paul's words to
"run in such a way that you may obtain it" (1Co 9:24b).  Also take
heart from his words found later in this same epistle:

   "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always
   abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not
   in vain in the Lord." - 1Co 15:58
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