I LOVE TO RUN but not every time I go for a run do I love it. Some days it is cold, rainy and I’m in pain. Some days my feet feel heavy and every step is a drudgery. Some days it’s sunny, warm and fun. I’ve learned to love it because of the benefits I receive from running. I like how I feel afterward. I like that it gives me more energy. I want to stay in good physical health so that I can play with my grandchildren. I want to live healthy for my family.

I didn’t start out loving to run, but I have come to enjoy it. I have embraced the race. Here’s the part people don’t get. I don’t run because I love it. Some days my love is just not enough to go outside and run. I run because I discipline myself to run. I was talking to a friend yesterday after church about the very bad state of Christians. Here’s the truth of the matter: they are undisciplined. The flesh is running amok, not because you are being tormented by a demon, but because you are undisciplined in your walk.

Maybe you’ve been led to believe that you can continue to sin and inherit eternal life? Maybe you’re just foolish? Maybe you are ignorant of the Word of God? Who told you that you do not have to be disciplined? Who told you that self-control did not matter? Who told you that if you were led by your flesh and did what you wanted to do that God was pleased? The apostle Paul, who wrote 2/3 of the New Testament said the following:“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.

Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” I Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-27‬ ‭This word “disqualified” is translated also as “castaway” and conveys the idea of “failing the test” or “being rejected after testing”. Paul uses the same term in 2 Cor 13:5, where he states that Christ does not live in those who are “reprobate” (same Greek word). Paul is not referring merely to a loss of reward. What he recognizes is the possibility that he may fail to receive the prize, which is the inheritance of eternal salvation, as he states above “an imperishable crown”; if he should stop living a holy life, exercising self-control and enduring hardships for Christ.

The Septuagint uses the word to translate “dross”, the worthless impurities that had to be removed when refining silver. When I read the letters to the churches written by the apostle Paul, much of what he writes is combating the flesh of believers. In Jesus’ letters to the seven churches, it is more of the same. Letter to the church in Ephesus: failure to keep the Lord first. This displays a failure to continue in prayer, studying of the Word and keeping Scripture the highest priority.

Good doctrine matters. The letter to Smyrna: praises for enduring tribulation. The letter to Pergamum: failure to keep good and right doctrine. This church permitted believers who taught compromise with the world and monetary gain. The letter to Thyatira: failure to confront false teaching, but tolerating it and allowing sexual immorality and idolatry in their congregation. Instead of standing against worldliness, they compromised with it. Perhaps it was because of indifference, personal friendships, fear of confrontation, or to “keep the peace”. Who knows.

The letter to Sardis: failure to remain alive. The letter to Philadelphia: praises for keeping God’s Word and not denying His name. The letter to Laodicea: failure to remain fully devoted to the Lord. Not one of these letters mentions a demon hindering them or that they had no control over events that took place. Every single praise or failure came down to their discipline over the flesh.

A lukewarm person is lazy and lacks self-control: undisciplined. Not keeping the Lord and His Word first: undisciplined. Tolerating false doctrine and sin: undisciplined. Failure to remain alive: undisciplined. All these failures have to do with not disciplining the flesh. Keeping God’s Word and not denying His name: DISCIPLINED. Back to my running. I love the Lord with all my heart. But I’m going to be honest, sometimes my love for Him is not enough to spur me to do something. But because I have disciplined myself to obey Him, I obey.

Jesus did not go to the cross because of His love. You should read that again. It was because of His obedience to the Father’s will. “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”” Matthew‬ ‭26:39‬ ‭He disciplined His flesh to obey. I am telling you right now, undisciplined flesh will never obey the will of God. Never.

An undisciplined person is like a city broken into and left without a wall of security. It is defenseless. But discipline yields beautiful fruit AFTERWARD. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:11‬ ‭In case you are in the “I am under grace and can live how I want” camp, here’s the Word of God concerning how grace trains us to have self-control (discipline over the flesh).

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus‬ ‭2:11-14‬ ‭

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans‬ ‭8:12-13‬

‭ “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” 1 Peter‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.””‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-6‬ ‭You are not a victim. You are just undisciplined. Get control over your flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit. You CAN and WILL overcome all things, including your flesh. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans‬ ‭8:37‬ ‭#runyourrace

To Learn More About Pastor Crystal please visit the Leadership Page

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