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Thoughtful post considering the greatest obstacle to a convincing Christian testimony. (I Cor. 9:27) https://adivineencounter.com/monday-minute-disqualified

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control,

lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

I Corinthians 9:27

When a person is made a new creation in Christ, God instills a desire to make a difference on His behalf. It’s a sense of purpose…commissioncalling.

It’s what turned ordinary fishermen who had a tendency to be somewhat dense and fearful (don’t we all?) into bold, convincing preachers on fire for the Jesus with whom they had walked. They wanted to make a difference for Him.

Paul says no less than four times in I Corinthians 9:19-22 that his chief aim is to win as many people as possible to Christ, by whatever means possible. He wanted to make a difference for Him.

You and I want to make a difference for Him, don’t we? We want to make a difference in the lives of our children…our neighbors…our friends…our coworkers…our family members…pretty much everyone within our sphere of influence.

I’ve been considering this desire to have an impact on Christ’s kingdom. But the truth is, as critical as it is to ponder this topic, it’s also completely useless if…

after ministering to others, I myself am disqualified.

If disqualification is a possibility, don’t you think we should spend some time considering what causes it? And how to avoid it? Because otherwise, we just might be running in vain. If we’re disqualified, all our ministering is useless. We’ll find ourselves at the finish line with empty hands and slumping shoulders and a sickening pit in our stomachs.

In this passage from I Corinthians 9, Paul likens the Christian life to participation in athletic games. The word disqualified is referring to athletes who fail to meet the qualifications set forth, thus eliminating them from the race altogether.

And what is it that has the power to disqualify Paul from his soulwinning endeavor?

Our enemy, Satan? Heartbreaking trials? Obstacles? Cultural differences? Opposition from unbelievers?

No. It was simply himself.

His own desires…freedoms…passions given free rein would disqualify his testimony with others, completely eliminating him from contention as a winner of souls.

So how do we overcome this primary threat to our convincing testimony? We would do well to take a lesson from Paul, who disciplined his body and kept it under control.

That translation is extremely tame. The Greek words Paul used literally refer to beating the body, pummeling it to the point of bruising. And then making his body his slave.

Do you control your body? Or does your body control you?

Self-control is one of my biggest battles. But I’m learning that with my entire testimony at stake, it’s a battle worth fighting…and one I can’t afford to lose.

Thoughtful post considering the greatest obstacle to a convincing Christian testimony. (I Cor. 9:27) https://adivineencounter.com/monday-minute-disqualified

Written by Jennifer Clarke


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6 Replies to “Disqualified”

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      It’s an important aspect of ministry for all believers, isn’t it? Christ’s church as a whole is overlooking the importance of self-control…and it’s damaging the authenticity of our testimony in a huge way!

  1. Amy

    Agreed. Actually I’m trying to focus on spreading the word through my behavior because otherwise I’d be hypocritical in many areas.

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      You’re right, Amy! It’s important to make sure that our actions reinforce the truth of our words, rather than contradicting it. Thank you for reading!

  2. laurie laird

    I kind of see what you mean, but everytime i read that passage i think of Martin Luther who unable to control himself literally flogged and beat himself regularly to control his thoughts and deeds. He was the king of self abuse and it afforded him nothing until his realization of Christs works on the cross, and it was Christ who changed his heart which precipitated true change overall. Maybe i am confused? Maybe that i do not understand what Paul is really saying here.

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Welcome, Laurie! Thank you for your very thoughtful question. I appreciate the way it has prompted me to put further thought into this matter.

      I think there’s a primary difference in the motivation behind Luther’s self-abuse and the self-control Paul is describing. Luther (and those like him) abused his body so that he might gain favor with God and earn forgiveness by performing acts of penance. As you pointed out, he came to see the error of this ungodly thinking; Scripture is clear that we aren’t saved by any works we do, but only by God’s mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our peace with God is through Jesus Christ alone. The Bible never teaches physical abuse of our bodies.

      In the passage I referenced in my post, Paul uses vivid language to talk about how he disciplines his body (beating to the point of bruising). But this language is figurative, not literal. He’s illustrating the point that his body is no minor opponent to his goal of winning people to Christ. Our bodies put up a fierce fight against the Spirit of God in us; if we allow our bodies free rein, they will master us and rule over us. When this happens, our testimony is rightfully called into question because we aren’t living according to the truth we claim. Paul refused to allow his testimony to be undermined, and was fully committed to Jesus’ command to “deny himself.” We would be wise to follow in his footsteps!

      Self-control is a critical component of Christian living, and it’s being ignored in Christ’s church. We’re paying a high price as our testimony is minimized and our cultural influence is crippled. I don’t claim to be an expert, Laurie, so I welcome any further feedback you or others would like to share. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts!


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