We’ve all heard the Olympic application of the Christian life:
“Olympic athletes restrict their diet, keep themselves to a rigorous training schedule, regulate their sleep, and eliminate all distractions to keep themselves in fine form so they can win the medal. In the same way, Christians are supposed to do this for their eternal crown.”
The passage for this is 1 Corinthians 9:25
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.“
This is indeed Paul’s point. However, I’d like to point out that Paul doesn’t say we should do this, he says we “do it.”
–There is no verse in the New Testament that says we should fast. The New Testament assumes we will.
–There is no verse in the New Testament that says we should go to church (not even the one about “forsaking the assembling”). The New Testament assumes we will.
–There is no verse in the New Testament that says we should pray for hours a day. The New Testament assumes we will.
–There is no verse in the New Testament that tells us to read so many pages of the Bible a day. The New Testament assumes we will.
The bottom line is this: if there is no discipline in your life to pursue godliness, to be competing for the eternal crown, there’s a good chance you aren’t saved.
Two verses later, Paul says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
If a guy were to look up the word “castaway” in the Greek a guy would note that this word is always translated as a reprobate, someone who isn’t saved.
We hesitate to go there, so most translations don’t (showing that theological points interfere with Bible translations).
Is Paul saying you do these things to get saved? Do I have to do religious works to be saved? Nope, not by works.
What Paul IS saying is that “the just shall live by faith.” You know you are coming after eternity (the eternal crown) when your life here begins to conform to heaven.
If your life here isn’t conforming to Christ and eternity, this always is a sign of bad things.
“That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.“