Thursday, October 13, 2016

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 -- On the Prize of Self-Mastery

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye 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.
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."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

This is Paul talking about self-mastery.  The first verse is interesting, and seems on the surface that it could be interpreted as though we are competing against each other in life, trying to beat each other out for spiritual prizes.  However, in the larger context of the gospel, that's pretty crazy.  We would never want to consign anyone to hell so that we can get his spot in heaven. :)  That isn't what God is like at all.  I think, combined with the second verse of the selection, it helps us understand that the race we're actually running is against ourselves, as we learn self-control, self-confidence, restraint, humility, and all of the other things that we as spiritual beings never had to cope with before.

Bodies are an amazing gift from God that we receive as we come to Earth, and they open up all kinds of possibilities for us.  There is so much capacity for beauty and positive emotion and goodness.  But our bodies also have the capacity for evil, and appetites and passions that are not always good for us.  Paul talks about bringing his body "into subjection," which is the race, and the fight, that he talks about here.

King Benjamin tells us that "the natural man is an enemy to God" and that it will continue to be so, unless we get help from God through the atonement, and yield to the spirit.  So often we get it backwards, and we change ourselves so that our bodies have mastery over our spirits.  We convince ourselves that our desires and passions should have primacy in our lives, and we stomp our consciences into the ground, shouting "and *stay* dead!"  But Paul, and God, tell us that our spirits should have mastery, and that we need to train our bodies to be in subjection, as the temples of our spirits.  Today, let's take care of our bodies and make sure they are healthy, but let's not give into appetites and urges that go against God's law.  The unification of our bodies and spirits does need to happen, but not by chaining and smothering our souls.  We just need to learn to train our physical selves to serve us better, as important, but not more important than our spiritual selves.  That's the prize that Paul wants us to run for... that unification and peace, when we finally win that internal war (on God's side), and our bodies and spirits are in perfect harmony and working together rather than trying to go in separate directions.


  1. Great post! I like to think of my body as my own little galaxy that I have authority over. All those cells and muscles and parts and such. Sure, there are some systems I don't have conscious control over (and good thing, because who wants to spend time commanding their heart to pump or that other stuff), but what I do with it is up to me. Gotta conquer the galaxy in our control first.

  2. Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by. :)


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