Date: March 4, 2018 (Sunday PM)
Bible Text: 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 | Dave Olson
Series: Transcribed Sermons
Going the Distance
I Corinthians 9
Okay let's take our Bibles and turn to 1st Corinthians chapter 9. The title of my message tonight is “Going the distance.” Now if you are a sports person that could mean one of two things to you. If you are a baseball person you are thinking, oh yeah the pitcher he is going to keep on being able to throw, you know right down to the end. If you are a boxing fan then you know the guy is going to try to get through 12 rounds right. So we are not talking about baseball tonight, we are going to talk about going the distance and the fight that we have against the devil.
In 1st Corinthians chapter number 9, we begin in verse 24 the Bible says “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that you may obtain.” “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.” Verse 26 is where we want to focus in on, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:” “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.” So he is talking here about running, running, running and then he kind of switches it halfway through. In verse 26 he is talking about some boxing terms. We want to consider this idea of going the distance tonight.
So Paul uses these two athletic terms to describe his quest for victory. He talked about running, he talked about boxing. There in verse 26 it says, “so fight I, not as one that beateth the air...” Now the phrase as I mentioned going the distance is a boxing term it is going through all the rounds. Making it through the full fight, the full bout and not every fight goes all 12 rounds. In the same way, not every Christian makes it in the ring with the devil like they should. They could, but they throw in the towel, get down for the count, and they lay there ready to die or ready to give up. The goal of the opponent in boxing is to knock out the other opponent so he does not have to go the full 12 rounds which makes his job a little bit easier. Now the goal of the other guy is not to get knocked out, right. We are in a fight with the devil, he does not want us to go the distance. Sadly, we probably all know some people who have not gone the distance they have been knocked out, they have been knocked down. The devil wants to get us out in the earliest round possible. Parents what does that mean to us? That means we had better be working double-time on our kids. That is when he wants to knock them out, he wants to knock them out while they are young. We have got to be doing all that we can to equip them to get them the discipline get them to be able to go the distance get them to be able to get the strength that they need to fight this fight. The Bible says we should fight the good fight. It is a good fight because we are going against the devil and we are fighting for the Lord. We need to make sure that we get through, go the distance. We need to make sure that those that are counting on us—that we can help them, and train them, and help them to go the distance.
Our text speaks about being victorious. God does not want us to lose. In Romans 16:20 Paul encouraged the church at Rome with these words. He said, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Amen for that huh! The God of peace, it is not real peaceful when you are in the heat of the battle. Some right now are really going through it and maybe nobody else knows you are fighting some inner battles that you do not want to tell anybody about. You think, I have it under control or I have made it through this before. No, we do not have it under control. We need the Lord and we need his peace. One day he will bruise Satan under our feet. This Bible verse continues and says, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” It is his grace. It is going to help us, it is not our own strength so we do not have to be defeated by the devil we can be different, victorious.
Now have you ever struggled with a particular sin for a long time. Usually you have battled it, you battled it, you battled it, why does that happen. Well we might say, well the flesh is weak. That is true isn't it. Why did Jesus tell us that though. Did Jesus tell us that the flesh is weak to give us an excuse so that we can keep falling to the same thing over and over again. Well I tried, the flesh is weak. Is that why he told us that? No, I do not think so. In fact, I know it is not why. He told us that so we would be prepared to understand that the flesh is weak. So we would do something to get some strength, so that we can fight the battle. Not in our own strength but so that we can be victorious. He did not give us that warning to provide us with a good easy way out, to give us an excuse for failing.
So tonight we are going to consider several things that are needed if we hope to go the distance and be victorious against the devil, against temptation, against sin. The first thing that we need if we want to win is desire. It is very simple. Now I do not know about you but if I am going to get in a fight, I do not want to get in a fight but if I am going to get in a fight, I do not want to lose okay. I just do not want to lose. Have you ever seen someone in a fight and it looked like he really did not want to win. What was the result—you already know—he lost. He did not fight like he wanted to win and so he lost. I can remember very vividly going down and watching some high school boys many, many years ago. They were matched up and they were having some some boxing matches. They had the gloves on and one guy in particular I will never forget, he just kind of kept turning and turned away like this and his opponent was just pummeling him. He did not want to fight. He did not look like he wanted to win and he lost.
Well the Scriptures tell us that you can not win against sin if you do not want to. I think that is the main problem a lot of times. We do not want to have victory over sin. We will say oh yeah I know that is terrible, I need to have victory but we do not really, really, really want it.
In Psalm 19 verses 13 and 14 David knew that he was in a fight and he prayed this “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them have dominion over me:” He was asking God, please do not let this sin beat me up. How often do we pray like that? He says, “then shall I be upright and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable and I in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer.” How much you think about the sin that you are struggling with now or the most or whatever. How much do you really beg God for victory. If it is casual, we probably can not expect much. Also you know I have learned over the years that what I pray about is a pretty good indication of what is important to me. You know what we ask or spend a lot of time asking God for shows what is the most important to us. If we do not spend much time asking for a victory begging God for victory, looking for a victory, that might mean it is not that important.
You can tell a lot about your desires by what you are praying for. The reason many people do not go the distance simply is they do not want to. They just do not want to. Now they want to have enough victory not to have the repercussions of their sin, right. We want to have enough victory so that we do not suffer all the reaping, but we do not want to go all out and really conquer this thing because we kind of like it a little bit. Hey do not look at me like you do not like sin, you do. That is why you sin, that is why we sin, that is why I sin because at some point I am stupid enough to like it. Now proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil:” We need to hate it but we do not. If we are not having victory over sin, we have to ask, do I really hate this thing or not. Unfortunately a lot of times the answer is no, we like our sin that is why we keep going back to it. That could be the reason that you have been battered around in the ring by the devil. So we need desire. I told you have several points I am going to hit them and keep on going.
Secondly, we need a decision, we need to make a decision. Wanting victory is not enough, you have got to decide to get it now. This is not the power of positive thinking. Some people say well if I just decide it is going to happen. No, but if you do not decide it is not going to happen. You have got to make a decision. I want victory, which is also a decision. I am going to fight this thing all right. The scripture says in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He says reckon, that word reckon means to conclude, it means to count, in other words mark it down I am dead to sin. Just reckon, just say that is how it is. The Bible says we are supposed to reckon him we are supposed to make that decision. I am supposed to mark it down I am as good as dead to that sin. Let me put it in layman's term, I am not going to do it. I know the flesh is weak, I know that we will stumble but we have got to come to some point and say I am not gonna do that anymore. I am sick and tired of this thing just beating me up and having dominion over me and defeating me. I am NOT going to do it! We have got to come to a place where we just simply decide this thing is going to die because if you do not fight it, it is going to whip you. You have got to decide, decide right now that it is possible to have victory. You see the devil convinces us that we cannot be victorious, you have tried before. You have tried before, look at that one failed and that person failed there and you can not go on. Yeah, I can not in my own strength but I can in Gods. The verse says that we can be dead to sin and it also says how we can be victorious through Jesus Christ our Lord. Do not be presumptuous—trust God—but decide.
Thirdly, discernment. It is funny, I taught that in Growing in Grace class today and used some of the same verses that Dr. Voegtlin was preaching this morning. He touched on it this morning and it is in here tonight. So only the people who were in Growing in Grace got all three. Discernment is the ability to distinguish between truth and error, virtue and vice, and right and wrong, also good and evil. So if you want to go the distance in this fight you have to fight by the book, you have to know the basics. You know a boxer develops his footwork. Now I am not going to get up here and show you all the fancy footwork I have, I would trip and fall flat on my face. He is developing that footwork, he is on the balls of his feet, he is not on his heels. You know he is practicing that jab, he is practicing that cross—that is where all the power is. Guys you throw a couple jabs and then you let him have it. You put on your you know, I am not a great fighter. I do not know what would happen if I got in the boxing ring but I do know one thing, I will try to put as much of the 210 pounds I have into that punch. I will try that. That is getting your cross down. You have to master your opponent in everything. You have to improve your speed, you have to study your opponent, you have to get the basics down, you have to know what is the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do in the ring is. Some things you do not do when you are boxing you do not bite your opponent's ear off. I know someone tried it, but it is not the best thing to do.
We got to go by the book, we got to get the basics down you have got to study God's Word. That is the book we have got to follow. That is what gives us discernment and it will help you to know what move to make next in your fight against the devil. You know sometimes you do not have a lot of time to react. You are in the heat of the battle. You have got to know what to do, it has to come like that, it has to be second nature. You need to know the book like that, and you have to listen to the Holy Spirit. When He speaks you are going to listen, and follow Him, and obey Him. You know many times when I have counseled people over the years who seem to be constantly defeated by the same thing in their life. Usually unfortunately it takes some huge catastrophe, you know they have been battling the sin, battling the sin. They do not get help, they do not seek counsel, they think they got it and they haven't had victory for years. They have not had victory for years and then all of a sudden they are on the verge that something really, really, really bad is going to happen. Then they get help. When I asked well you know what is going on, usually you can try to trace it down to almost the same thing every time. They are not consistently in the Book, they are not in the Bible every day. Meaning no Bible—no discernment, no discernment means you do not know how to fight.
It does not matter how tough we are physically. By the way, if you are tough physically one day you are going to be old, and you are not going to be as tough as you used to be or as much as you think you are. Then when you think you are tough and you try it and the body does not work anymore like it used to then you realize all of a sudden. But the point is this, we need God's Word. In Hebrews chapter 5, verse 13 and 14 it says, “For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness:” Unskillful in the word that is the problem when we are unskillful in the word we will have no discernment. It continues he says, “for he is a babe.” “But strong meat belongeth to him that are a full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” That idea of discerning good and evil is knowing what to do, what is right, and what is wrong. In the battle, in the fight, in the ring, we will know because we have been taking time in the book. Because God gives us discernment I know this will work. I know this is not what I should do. Get to know the book. Practice your jabs, work on the cross, get your feet moving. Do what you have to do. Know this book, love this book. Do not get it and read it and say, well you know I have had my devotions today. No, no I need this. We are not as tough as we think we are. I do not care how long you have been saved or how long you have been reading the Bible. You know I do not care how long any of us have been preaching. We still need this book and God's help and God's strength desperately or we are going to be destroyed. We have got to have that discernment. If you are unskillful in the Word you will be unable to discern which move is right and which move is wrong then you will not go the distance.
Let me give you the fourth, determination. This is something else we need if we are going to go the distance. It is not easy, sometimes you are going to get bruised in the ring . Sometimes you are going to get battered around a little bit. Thankfully there is a little time in between rounds. Sometimes the Lord gives us that little bit of time to recuperate a little bit and collect our senses and go back at it. You are going to get tired, I get tired. Have you ever gotten so tired of fighting against sin you just said what is the use. Ever been there, you might be there right now. Well I have been fighting, or I just I am so sick of this. Do not give up.
Need some determination, I have been reading a lot of these scriptures myself. Turn with me to Psalm 101, I want you to see something here. I preached a whole sermon years ago out of Psalm 101 and the title of it was simply “determination.” Say is that spiritual to have a whole sermon on just determination. Well basically the whole Psalm is determination, so I think if God's Word has the theme that runs through it, I think it is okay to preach the whole sermon on it. Determination, Psalm 101, now notice with me (you do not have to count them) I know some of you who pay attention will notice that a lot of times the word will and shall are going to show up here. Verse 1, “I will sing of mercy and judgment unto thee, O Lord, will I sing.” Sounds like determination to me doesn't it. This is something I am going to do, not just a decision but a premeditated plan. He says, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: (we could add in there on the internet on the cell phone on the TV and wherever) I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slander his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me”. He is not gonna have a bunch of the horrible people around him. He said, “He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord.”
Determination he was determined not to let sin have the victory, he was determined. There are some things he was going to do and some things he was not going to do. We must pre-determine what we are going to do before a temptation comes. You have got to be pre-determined. You have got to say in your mind when that thing pops up I am not looking. When I am driving down the road and I see something over there, I put the visor down. Whatever it is, you pre-determine what you are going to do and you follow it. You are not only deciding but determining what you are going to do. A fighter knows what to do when his opponent throws an uppercut. He knows what to do, right, hopefully he is going to duck, right.
So must we know how to react when the devil throws his punches. God wants us to be victorious. Do you know we have got everything we need. We have the Word of God, we have the Spirit of God, but why do we fail? I think sometimes, and I'm not trying to oversimplify that, sometimes we are just not committed, we are not determined, it goes back to desire. I know some of these points are so similar but anyway we are not committed.
Our text speaks of ‘beating the air.’ You do not win many bouts missing all the time. Now some of the commentators say that it is really how they practice they would do some shadow boxing. Have you ever seen these guys before they get in the ring? They are dancing around with all their fancy stuff on and and then they get the mean look on. They are in there doing all the little things but they are all show. Then they get into the ring and they get knocked out in two rounds. You know, I mean they have got it down until they get in the fight, then they just beat the air. Anybody, well maybe not me, but anybody can beat the air and look like they know what they are doing. You know with a little bit of practice I might even actually be able to fake somebody out until I got in the ring. The point is this, don't beat the air.
All show no go is that you? Now think about it. You got your Bible, got your church clothes on, got your ministries and then you go out tomorrow and are defeated by the same sin again. Why—shadow boxing. It looks good, we look good, it is Sunday and we are at Fairhaven and I'm looking good. Well maybe not me, but you know you are. You go right out and just fall flat on your face. You get knocked down and then you are staggering around and the devil comes up with one more—poom. What happened? Beating the air. Paul said, so fight I not as one that beateth the air. He said I am going to make contact. I am going to focus on something and I am going to hit that. I am going after it, I want it. I am not going to beat the air. We need to make some determination that we are going to stop beating the air, we are going to stop shadow boxing. We are going to step up and step in and put our weight into it and hit something.
Now self-determination will not win a bout all by itself. I mean you can sit there and say I am going to beat this guy, but if you have not trained—you are not prepared and you are not ready. You are going to fall down, you are just going to get wiped out. But it has got to start with self-determiniation. When fighting against the devil you are not going to win by saying oh yeah, I’m going to do it and then fail, no that is not it. But you have got to start with a determination. Now Peter, we can all think of Peter, right. The Lord warned him, He said you know you are going to forsake me. Peter determined that he would never forsake the Lord, and he said though all men shall be offended because of thee yet will I never be offended. What do we see him doing—being offended. He determined, he did, it was a good start. But who was he depending on? Himself, he was not depending on the Lord.
So that leads us to our next requirement. Number five is dependence. Dependence, we need spiritual strength to fight spiritual battles. Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Walk in the spirit, let the Lord strengthen us. Isaiah chapter 41 verse 10, please turn there with me if you would, Isaiah 41:10. Are you running out of energy for the fight? Man, you have been at it but boy, you just you have been whooped up on. It is getting tiring. This is wow, I do not know if I can keep at this thing. Maybe you are really going at it with your kids. It just seems like one problem after another and once you think you have got one thing sorted out then another problem rises up. Maybe it is your finances you have been working hard you have made the budget, you started keeping the budget, and then before you could get the you know the emergency fund saved up, you had an emergency. I have been working on it and doing all I can. We run out of energy sometime.
Isaiah 41 verse 10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: (listen to the promise) I will strengthen thee; (I can not do it. Alright that is okay, God says I can, I will strengthen thee, I will do what?) I will help thee; (I do not know about you but when there is someone bigger than me wanting to beat me up, if someone bigger than them comes along and wants to help me I am all for that, right.) yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Oh yeah, the devil just landed a good one and you are staggering and the Lord says, no problem. He holds you up. You know this verse is perfect. He is going to give us what we need. He promises to strengthen us, help us, and hold us up. Sounds a lot like what we need when we are in the ring with our adversary. You need to depend on him. We can know he is going to help us. Having that confidence he is going to help us lets us get back up and get in the fight, lets us go back at the adversary.
Number six, discipline. Discipline, if you want to go the distance you have to develop some spiritual muscles. Oh yeah, fighters, they lift a lot, they eat well, they try to bulk up. Now God tells us what we need to feast on to get strong—and it is His Word. You say you already said that, yes. You have to have the discipline to get in the word. Now Acts chapter 20 verse number 32 says, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up...” You want to get built up? It is in the word, the word is able to build us up. Once again, get tired of hearing it, you have to be in the Bible every day. Not just in the Bible— digging, looking, loving it, applying it, trying to obey it. Seeing things about yourself, seeing things about God and praising him for who he is. Seeing what he will do, seeing how God will equip you to help someone else, and to have victory over sin. All of that, we have to be searching and looking. If we can not get up in the morning and spend time with God we are going to be pummeled by the devil throughout the day. I was going to say try it, but don't try it. If you get up tomorrow and do not have your devotions and do not have a good time with God, see how your day goes. And then try it for a week and see how your week goes. Some people say, I do that all the time. Yeah how is your life, not very victorious is it. I am so bad, I am so corrupt, I am so weak that I have to be in the Bible every day. People say, man, religion and all that is for weak people. Amen! Count me in. God says, the flesh is weak,not as an excuse but as I better do something about it. So I need to develop that discipline, get up, eat a good meal in the Word of God, and be built up for the fight.
Number seven there needs to be some deferring. What is that? Well if you would you can turn with me to Romans chapter 6, I will get to that in a moment. Even the most experienced fighter does not know everything. You know what he has? He has a trainer doesn't he. Why does he have a trainer, because he needs help if he ever hopes to go the distance. We have to learn to listen to our trainer, in other words we have to defer to him. The guy out there in the ring he is getting beat up, the blood is flying and he can't see anything. He is just getting hammered and he thinks I know what to do next. No you do not, you can not even see straight. If you ever get that way spiritually you can not even think straight, you can not even see straight, you do not even know which way you are going. If it feels like you got clobbered you do not even know where that one came from. The trainers in the corner he is watching the whole thing he knows exactly what is going on. He sees what his fighters doing wrong, he sees what the other guys doing right and he yells out a command and a shout. Do this and if he does it, what happens? It works, right!
Our guys know that on the wrestling mat, the whole crowd may be yelling and screaming, but there is only one voice they hear and that is Mr. Wrights. That is all they hear. My son used to tell me dad I never hear anybody. I hear voices, the only voice I heard was Mr. Wrights. Now it does not mean he always did what Mr. Wright told him. You know as well as I do sometimes you know what you are supposed to do, you just can not do it. They have to be zeroed in because that trainer, that coach, our Lord knows what we need to do and we have to zero in on Him. That needs to be the only voice we are listening to. We need to defer to Him, not trust our own reflexes or trust their own ways thinking. I know better—right. Yeah. Oh anyway I was getting diverted. The fighter he needs to listen.
Now in Romans 6 verse 12-13, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” It says neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin yield yourselves to God. Stop doing it your way, okay. As the boxer in the ring has to listen to his trainer, we have to listen to God. If what you are doing is not working and giving victory, it might be time to stop doing it and try something else. Like listen to the one who knows what we ought to be doing. He knows what we have to do to to win and to not be knocked senseless. Stop fighting your own way and stop finding your own way. Muhammad Ali developed a technique called the ‘rope-a-dope.’ Sounds silly but that is what he called it the ‘rope-a-dope.’ He would lean against the ropes put his hands up and he let his opponent just start swinging and swinging and swinging, and let his opponent get all wore out. Then when his opponent was all tired from throwing them punches, he would come off the ropes and he would go after him. I think that is how he beat Foreman. I guess that's how that worked. Say well yeah, that is a great technique. Hey it might work for him but I will tell you that if you try that against the devil you're done. It is not time to just sit back and relax and just put your hands up for a while and let the devil beat on you. He is tougher than you. He does not tire out and you are not going to bounce off the ropes refreshed. But people do that, oh I am just tired right now, let me just take a break (and get pummelled). I'm ready now—no you are not! If what you are doing is not working listen to your trainer yield yourself to God, defer to Him. He knows more yield to Him, obey Him. Let Him have his way. You know some people I mentioned earlier, they will never seek help until it is too late. Then others will go and seek help, but they will not follow the advice and the counsel that they are given. Listen to God's advice.
Number eight need some disablement. There are some things you just need to disable, right. I not saying you should do this but (this is just an example here), if you were at a go-kart place and they had a governor on there and you disabled it you probably beat the other people in a race around the track. Now I would not suggest you do that but you could see how disabling something can give you a victory, right. It will give you a least an advantage. If you could turn with me back to first Corinthians chapter number nine. Paul knew that before he could beat his opponent he had to disable another adversary, that was himself. If you want to win against the devil you have got to first conquer yourself. We are here in 1st Corinthians 9 verse 27 he 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.” This is immediately following verse 26 where he says: I fight, I don't beat the air, I'm making contact. Then he says I keep under my body. The first thing he makes contact with is himself. The word, that phrase there ‘to keep under’, literally means to hit under the eye. So if you come up here and you let me hit you under the eye, you will probably have a bruise, a black eye, a shiner. It means a hit under the eye to buff it, to disable an antagonist. But who was the antagonist he is not talking about the devil right away. Who is the antagonist? He says, I keep under my body. He said I am going to work on me first. I have to realize there are some problems with me, there ares some deficiencies with me. The reason we do not win in the fight against the devil is because we have some problems and we have to disable those things. We have to give ourselves the black eye. We have to subdue ourselves. We have to have some victory. We must learn to deny ourselves and be willing to go through a little self-inflicted pain to have victory. I am not talking about literally punching yourself in the eye.
Take yourself for instance, if you are having trouble with the cellphone and looking at things you should not be looking at on the internet you need to take some drastic actions. Really you should try getting rid of it. I can not live without it, well you can not live with it because you are continually being defeated, right. You may say, well that would hurt. I just can't it is to hard. Yeah, that is the point. Jesus taught that principle in the Bible actually and we would do well to follow it. He said in Matthew 5:30, “And if thy right hand offend thee, (you know what you are supposed to do) cut it off and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Jesus is not talking about self-mutilation okay. He taught that we need to get serious about fighting against sin. Hebrews 12:4 says, “Ye have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” You have not fought that much that you have bled about it. Jesus did. He fought for us and we need to let him have a victory. We may need to give ourselves a spiritual black eye in order to get ready for an opponent much tougher than ourselves and that is the devil. If you can not conquer yourself how are you going to conquer the devil? That is hard, I know it is hard. That is why we are preaching it. He have to take some steps.
We have to want it, we have to determine, we have to deprive ourselves. You know I hate the idea of dieting. I just I don't like the word. I don't like anything about it. I don't like the idea of giving up something I like, you know. I like it. It would hurt for me not to eat some things. I cut back a little bit here and there, but a full-blown diet, no. I think I tried it, okay. Why do we start and quit, because it hurts, we do not want to say, no, to ourselves. We need to get tough, we have to get purposed. You know blowing a diet that is one thing, but not keeping yourself under control. Not being willing to tell yourself no and cause some self-inflicted pain and denying yourself some sin that you know you need to give up. If you won't do that, you are history. If you cannot go the distance you will be defeated. That whole process of cut—you know if your hand offend thee cut it off. You know some people refer that to as radical amputation. Radical amputation, get serious and cut some things out of your life that need to be cut out. If there is some friend that keeps pulling you down radically amputate it, not them, but cut the friendship. If it is the cell phone is hindering you cut off the service. If the credit card keeps you getting in debt cut up the credit card. Do some radical amputation. Maybe that point should have been called dismemberment instead of disablement.
Number nine, we have to move. We are getting there. Romans 13:14, deprivation. We have to deprive ourselves. You have to knock yourself up the side of the head if you need to. The idea is we have to deprive ourselves. Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” A boxer must look for every advantage he can get. He does not want to be a lot lighter than his opponent. I am 210 pounds, if you give me a hundred and ten pound guy I would much rather go against him than the 250 pound guy, okay. The 110 pound guy, he might hit me and it might hurt, but the 250 pound guy might hit me and I might fall on the ground, okay. So wait there is a little something to the weight. But the boxer does not want to have flabby weight that slows him down he wants every ounce of muscle possible and that takes that idea of self-denial. He deprives himself of some things that he really really wants. And in the spiritual battle, which we are in remember we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this world against spiritual wickedness in high places. If we want to win that spiritual battle, then we have got to take this advice and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof. What carnal appetite do you feast on? That is what you have to ask. What is it we feast on. Is this something that we are listening to? Is this something we are looking at? Is it something we are doing? I'm going to be careful. Covetousness, lust, anger, worldly music, gossip, laziness all of that we have to deprive ourselves of that. Those fleshly lusts that never or will never go the distance.
Let me give you number 10, Hebrews chapter 12 verse number 1. In context that is about running a race but there is a good point to it. He says, “wherefore seeing (and that's okay because also in 1st Corinthians 9 it talked about running the race and boxing) we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, (you know the verse it says) let us lay aside (what?) every weight, (everything that's gonna slow us down) and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” We need to do the discarding. There are some things we need to discard, some things you need to cut off, some things you just need to throw away. Throw it away. What do you have in your life? Go back home, you know what is sitting there, you know what temptation is, you know what's on that video, you know what's in the words or the the beat that is on and in those songs. You know all of that. You know the clothes that might not be pleasing to God, get rid of it. Just get rid of it. You can not get in the ring with the wrong stuff. It is going to slow you down. You have to get rid of it. Maybe that is why we are not having a victory because there are just some things we are hanging on to. We are not going to lay it aside, no buts. No, lay it aside, just lay it aside. What is it, I do not know, what it is. If God is speaking to you, I am just trying to give you a few points on how we can go the distance. We need to discard some things. Once we have seen that it takes work, this is not easy. It is not just pray. I prayed, I walked the aisle and I prayed and asked God to help me to have victory. That is a great start. That is desire, that was point number one. If that is all you get you might get out in the first round, but I am giving you 12 points because there is 12 rounds in the fight. I want to have victory let me come down and pray. Great place to start but that is not going to do it. We need to pray like everything depends upon God, but we need to do our part. We need that desire, we need to make a decision, we need to have some determination. Just over the last couple months this whole idea kept coming back to me that there is more to it than just praying and thinking we are going to have victory. We have to do something. We have to want it. We have to get engaged. We have to fight we have to, if this is a problem get some verses on it. Study some verses on it, Memorize the verses but memorizing is not going to do it. Then you have to put it into practice. You have to just be determined and go after it. When you get knocked down, get back up and fight again. It is not simple, it is a fight, it is going to take work. Work to prepare, work to endure. The Bible say endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. So there needs to be a discarding.
Number 11 dedication. Turn with me to Romans 12, a very familiar passage but worth looking at. Dedication. Did you ever hear that phrase, ‘choose your battles.’ Did you know in the Christian life you don't always get to choose your battles. Sometimes the attack comes and you have to respond. Then there are other times though, where God says, I want you to get involved in this fight and you are like I don't want to get in that one. You do not understand Dave, I said I want you to do that. But that is not comfortable. Things are going pretty good over here. No, get into that fight over there. Romans 12 verses 1 & 2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that she presents your bodies a living sacrifice, (that is dedication, here am I Lord here it is) holy, acceptable unto God, (when we are gonna be acceptable we are gonna have no will of our own we have dedicated ourselves) which is your reasonable service. If we do that he says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” You say that there is this one fight that God wants me to be in and I do not want that fight. You do not really have a choice. We are supposed to be dedicated to God, to do what he wants us to do, so we can find out what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. We need to dedicate ourselves to follow him and fight the battles he wants us to fight. That also means there are some battles that we want to fight that God does not want us to fight. Get out of it and leave it alone! Some you just need to drop and you know that. Let God have his way. Some fights God wants you to get into but I do not want to. Get into it. Is there some battle you are reluctant to give up that you know you should, or some battle you hesitate to get in but God wants you to get in? If it is God's will we need to dedicate ourselves to the battle.
Last, defend, number 12 is defend. While doing a study on temptation, I noticed that God over and over told us to flee from temptation, flee from youthful lusts. All of these just flee, run, get out of there. However that is not what he told us to do when we fight the devil. We are told to resist him. Run away from temptation, but stand up and fight against the devil. In James chapter 4, and that is why we have to defend, James chapter 4 verse 7 you know, “resist the devil and he will (what, he will) flee.” What happens when we are fleeing? We are running from the devil. What happens? Are we going to win? No. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against” get that idea stand against. The devil attacks your family, the attitude is, no. He is going to have a fight on his hands. I am not saying that presumptuously. I am not saying that you can fight in your own strength. But is your family worth fighting for, are they worth praying over, and agonizing in prayer and asking God. God please help, please direct, please intervene. Defend, “stand against the wiles of the devil.” In verse 13 of Ephesians 6 says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, the evil day is coming a day of trouble and having done all, to stand.” Have you done all to stand, if ynot put some of these 12 tips into practice. A boxing match is scheduled for 12 rounds. I gave you 12 points, there is a whole lot more we could say but you don't want me to and I don't either. Are you going to go the distance? We are in a spiritual fight? How are you doing? Let’s bow our heads and close our eyes.
Topics: Going the Distance