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Finish The Race

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! -I Corinthians 13:12
Read I Cor. 9:24-10:13

Do you remember Ben Johnson? In the 1988 Olympics, Johnson and Carl Lewis were in a race billed as between the two fastest humans. Johnson won BUT failed a drug test and was disqualified.

I remember one of the early road races (10K) I ran. It was a hot, muggy, July day. Around the 5th mile, a man staggered and collapsed. He couldn’t finish the race.

We all have started things we didn’t finish for one reason or another. Some were important and some not so important.

In our lesson today, Paul is concerned with the most tragic of all uncompleted human endeavors/races/tasks—people who begin the Christian life but “fall” by the wayside—who lose the great prize.

He begins by a personal reference. Even he is not beyond this danger. He who has preached the gospel to others must be on guard, lest he be “disqualified”.  But the heart of his warning is a reminder of the history of Israel. It is the story of the people of God who started well, but did not finish, did not reach the promised land.

Biblical history shows that God’s privileged people were not safe from temptation and had no guarantee of security. It is a fatal mistake to believe that because they were recipients of God’s favor, they didn’t need to worry about ordinary human sins. In fact, it seems that is exactly the kind of assumption the people to whom Paul is writing have.

Like the wilderness in which Israel wandered for 40 years, history is strewn with the spiritual corpses of many who began a life with Christ and fell by the wayside.

The great apostle, Paul, warns that no matter how assured you may be of your present relationship to Christ, you must be vigilant.

The sober warning of this passage, however, is not the last word. In spite of the danger, you do not have to fall. If you depend on God and his grace and are obedient to him, He will provide a way of escape (v 13).

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