1 Corinthians 9 vs 1-27
1 Corinthians 9
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verses 1 – 2
- Interesting and important…an element of freedom in the spirit and freedom in this world is loving and serving others. Paul just made the statement that if eating meat hurts someone else, he’ll never do it again. Sounds like But compare serving someone, loving someone, honoring the heart of God…compare that to the pleasure of eating meat. There really isn’t a comparison!
- It sounds like denial of self but truly it is more than that…there’s reason behind it. We’ve equated indulgence of the flesh to freedom but that’s not freedom at all. The flesh is the flesh because it can never be satisfied. When you learn to discipline your flesh for the sake of love and honor and maturity, that is when you experience liberation. Why? Because you are becoming spiritually strong…and spiritual strength equates to immunity towards the pull, the pressure, the pangs of the flesh. Paul says, “I am free!” And that is why I can make this call on my own flesh and know that I’m able to carry it out! (Puzzle illustration)
- He calls himself an Apostle simply means, “One who is sent.” But the formal biblical title of Apostle is reserved only for those who like Paul had seen and been with Jesus Christ (among other things like fruit in the ministry). These titles given to men and women in churches of Apostle Smith and Apostle Jones, implying that they have Apostolic authority, I reject that…because truly all that’s seeking to do is elevate a person, not the Lord.
- And notice, (I really like this), Corinth was an absolute train wreck of a church! They were suing each other…illicit relationships were known and celebrated in the church…all kinds of issues…but Paul says, “You are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” Let that encourage you…it does me. I am a mess at times. Sometimes I’m laser tight but others not so much…but God still places infinite value upon you and upon me even on our worst days! If you think about it, that was proven at the cross…
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verses 3 – 5
- Whoa now! Information alert! Today, there is a regulation within the Catholic Church that priests and popes must remain unmarried. I want you to understand a few things. First, the Catholic Church espouses that the Apostle Peter was the first Pope. I just want you to see and to know that Peter indeed was married. We see that here and we see that when Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law in Luke 4.
- So, if priestly celibacy doesn’t come from Peter then where does it come from? History lesson alert! 304 AD, at the Council of Elvira it was decided that all bishops, presbyters and deacons and all other clerics were to “abstain from their wives.” This was upheld at the Council of Nicea in 325. A thousand years later, in the twelfth century, at the Second Lateran Council, a rule was approved to basically forbid priests to marry and in 1563, the Council of Trent affirmed that rule.
- So why? There is absolutely no biblical basis for it at all. Several explanations exist….but look, none of them are biblical. In fact, God looked at man and said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone…” And Martin Luther had a huge problem with this regulation which included accusation and explanation as to why there was perversion and abuse in the church. And so, I just want you to be informed and to understand the difference between tradition and what is in the Bible.
- Jesus said in Mark 7:6-8, “Your heart is far from Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men, for laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.”
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verses 6 – 15a
- Paul is making the point through this real life illustration that the priority of life is not to assert and insist on yours or my personal rights but to live in such a way as to honor God, recognize His purposes and further the kingdom. What can I do, Paul’s thought, to get more people to life!?
- And so it is clear and it is good…pastors, preachers, missionaries, those that have devoted their lives to the preaching of the Gospel should be provided for by those that receive their ministry. That’s fine. Paul goes as far as to say here that the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel…but he says in the next breath, I have used none of these things…to make a living on preaching…that’s my right, but I am free to not exercise that right…why?
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verse 15
- This is not boasting like The Greek word literally means rejoicing with the implication of authenticity…and so I love this…Paul is saying, among you, the degree to which I can bring pure glory to God, pure…I want the purest, man. I want to sweep out the legs of anything that would hinder the purity of the gospel coming from my ministry. I wanna sweep the lick, Johnny!!! Remove the distraction, remove the hindrance, because the message is made pure by the authenticity of the messenger.
- This is why Jesus has the ear of my heart. Set apart and alone is His example. Many have come and espoused to have the answer. What is life? What am I? What is next? What am I supposed to do? Many have come with answers but none like Jesus. None have had the answers and also been the Answer. All have been gravel compared to His gold, man. His example, His way, His manner, His grace and ultimately, His authenticity…therefore the gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful…able to save the soul but also able to make a champion of a father, a hero of a mother, a warrior of a friend, a great man or woman of purpose of influence, honor, respect and success…why? Because of the authenticity of the Messenger and the purity of the message…
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verse 16
- Preaching the gospel is not about being in abundance or being in need. It’s not about gaining wealth or losing wealth…it’s not about wealth at all…it’s not a job. It’s about saving souls and serving Jesus and that’s it! And if you’re called there is this desperation in your bones, man, to just serve the Lord. But the enemy is so good about derailing you when the money starts flowing so that you lose your passion and you lose sight of your calling and you lose the heart of the Most High and then no matter how good you preach or how big your church gets, you’ve lost your way and the message is diluted because the messenger is authentically about something other than simply loving God and loving others.
- Why are you in the ministry? Woe is me if I wasn’t! That is the answer!
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verses 17 – 18
- If I could benefit in the flesh and yet I do not, per my own choice for the furthering of the Gospel, then it’s my stewardship. In other words, my responsibility that the Lord has entrusted to me. If I’m benefiting with earthly wealth then it’s my right and my privilege…but if no money comes in, it’s about discipline…it’s about responsibility…honoring the Lord and that does not happen with longevity unless something truly authentic is happening.
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verses 19 – 23
- Some may say that Paul was inconsistent, but he was consistently pursuing one goal and that was to have opportunity to win them to Christ. I love this, Paul wouldn’t approach every person with his most comfortable “Paul.” Rather he would, instead of serving himself, he would address folks how they were comfortable, not him. I love that because that is part of serving others and man if you’re not serving others then why on earth would you ever expect others to give you their ear let alone access to their hearts…
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verse 24
- This Christian life is not about competition with each other. It’s really about competition with self….Which Matt is going to be the lead? It’s about getting as many folks to the finish line as possible while getting to know God more and more along the way. It’s like starting a race and then as you keep running it, you continually get stronger and faster.
- What Paul says here doesn’t necessarily have to imply competition although it sounds like it. If all pass the finish line at the same time then all win. However, as one pulls ahead, there is a tendency in the rest of the pack to strive to catch up! Look at this…
1 Corinthians Chapter 9 Verses 25 – 27
- I absolutely love the metaphorical comparison of a Christian to an athlete. An athlete will sacrifice today for the win of tomorrow. An athlete that is going to be good, impressive, competitive, victorious, filled with joy and rejoicing (I mean how good is it to win!?) will do things today that are right and good even though they may be very inconvenient and hard, so that they will reach their goals tomorrow. I love that because that is exactly the mind of a person that WILL honor the Lord.
- Paul says here, temperate in all things. You suffer today so that you succeed tomorrow. No one makes you do it, you make you do it…and those in athletics do it to obtain a perishable crown…while the Bible speaks of five specific crowns or rewards that will be given to certain Christians. Here, the imperishable crown. The crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19). The crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). The crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4). And the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
- What are these crowns for? Showing off in heaven? No…Revelation 4:10, they are elements of worship towards Jesus in heaven…something that you might give to Him, a symbol of everything He gave to you, a response to everything He gave to you…that you honored in the weakness of your flesh and the difficulty of your sin nature. It’s a mirror, an echo, a symbol of the relationship between you and Him. But wait, there’s more…
- Listen, each of these crowns are awarded for a specific reason to the believer…those that run hard with discipline and results, the imperishable crown. For those that suffer in the flesh for the sake of righteousness and honoring Jesus…the crown of rejoicing. For those that keep the faith, pressing forward by faith and not by sight…the crown of righteousness. For those that care for others as unto the Lord…the crown of glory. And for those that in the face of persecution remain faithful to the Lord…the crown of life.
- But…as you run your race, strengthening along the way, growing up along the way, doing these things in life…here’s what your character will become…something of great and authentic substance…something imperishable. Even though things are hard, there is rejoicing about you…there is joy and others see and experience it too. You learn righteousness and find it…and in that you become masterful in your navigation of circumstance and situation. Glory dwells around and about you. That word specifically meaning the character of God Himself…discerning and sharing His heart. And unlike so many other things with heartbeats, you’re alive. Many are alive but have not life. Not you. Why? Because you are strengthening as you go…as you go along with the Lord.
- All this for you…and then when we see Him, when you see Him…you have a gift for Him. A return on His investment…a thing of beauty and eternal value…and your heart is so free, so thankful, so alive…that in a moment of absolute exuberant release and joy…you bow and cast those crowns that you’ve enjoyed so much…saved you so much…right to His feet. What a splendid day that will be.