Spiritual Marathon Runners

I Corinthians 9:24-27
       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.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The allusion in this is to the Grecian games, which consisted, among other things, of running of races, and of wrestling, combating, and fighting…The apostle makes use of these terms because they were well known to the Corinthians―the Isthmian games were performed in their neighbourhood, and doubtless had been seen by many of them, for the Corinthians were presidents of them. The race, or stadium in which they ran, was the space or interval between the place they set out from, and that which they ran unto, consisted of 125 paces, or 625 feet; it was the space of a furlong, and about the eighth part of a mile.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): My dear man―the Christian life is not a sprint; it is a marathon, and that is why Jesus says, “He who endures to the end shall be saved,” Matthew 10:22…Conversion is not the end, it’s the mere beginning,

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Here begins the narrative of a great soul battle, a spiritual Marathon, a hard and well fought field, in which the half defeated became in the end wholly victorious.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The race of faith.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things: the reference is to the athletes who took part in the marathon races, willing to undergo the most self-denying discipline to be at their fittest, thereby hoping to win an earthly crown. This word rendered “strive” is translated “labouring fervently” in Colossians 4:12, and “fight” in I Timothy 6:2!

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): You must make up your mind to a daily struggle—Sin, the world, and the devil must be actually mortified, resisted, and overcome.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We have every one in himself his own peculiar hindrances—weights which, if not laid aside, will clog the soul in her race.

J. C. RYLE: When Moses refused the pleasures of sin in Egypt, and chose affliction with people of God—he overcame the love of pleasure. When Micaiah refused to prophesy smooth things to king Ahab, though he knew he would be persecuted if he spoke the truth—he overcame the love of ease. When Daniel refused to give up praying, though he knew the den of lions was prepared for him—he overcame the fear of death. When Matthew rose from the receipt of custom at our Lord’s bidding, left all and followed Him—he overcame the love of money. When Peter and John stood up boldly before the council and said, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”—they overcame the fear of man. When Saul the Pharisee gave up all his prospects of preferment among the Jews and preached that very Jesus whom he had once persecuted—he overcame the love of man’s praise. They were men of like passions with yourself, and yet they overcame. They had as many trials as you can possibly have, and yet they overcame. They fought. They wrestled. They struggled. You must do the same.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): Many I have seen set out well in this race, but I have lived to see them fall short at last of the prize. They forsook their first love, and sought their enjoyment in the poor wretched trifles of time and sense.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Perseverance is, therefore, the target of all our spiritual enemies. The world does not object to your being a Christian for a time, if she can but tempt you to cease your pilgrimage, and settle down to buy and sell with her in Vanity Fair. The flesh will seek to ensnare you, and to prevent your pressing on to glory. “It is weary work being a pilgrim; come, give it up. Am I always to be mortified? Am I never to be indulged? Give me at least a furlough from this constant warfare.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There is no such thing as a holiday in the spiritual life.

C. H. SPURGEON: Satan will make many a fierce attack on your perseverance; it will be the mark for all his arrows. He will strive to hinder you in service: he will insinuate that you are doing no good; and that you want rest. He will endeavour to make you weary of suffering.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): God has appointed this whole life to be all as a race or a battle; the state of rest, wherein we shall be so out of danger as to have no need of watching and fighting, is for another world.

A. W. PINK: Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith, Hebrews 12:1…They must be encouraged to “look unto Jesus”―for only thus will they be furnished with both incentives and strength to run the race that is set before them.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): If this be the case, it is at once your duty, your interest, and your happiness to believe―to be certain―that you love Christ, and that He loves you; and in proportion as you believe this, will be your progress in the Christian race.

C. H. SPURGEON: Then let us pray much and pray in faith…As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life we acquire energy by the hallowed labour of prayer―an earnest pleader cometh out of his closet, even as the sun ariseth from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): The great fault of the children of God is that they do not continue in prayer; they do not go on praying; they do not persevere.

C. H. SPURGEON: Again, our Saviour reminded His disciples of the personal responsibility of each one of them in such a time of trial and testing as they were about to pass through. He would have them remember that it is not the man who starts in the race, but the one who runs to the goal, who wins the prize: “He that shall endure to the end shall be saved.” If this doctrine were not supplemented by another, there would be but little good tidings for poor, tempted, tried, and struggling saints in such words as these. Who among us would persevere in running the heavenly race if God did not preserve us from falling, and give us persevering grace? But, blessed be His name, “The righteous shall hold on his way,” Job 17:9. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:6.

MARY WINSLOW: But now remember, you have just begun to run the race—a race for a crown of glory. “So run that you may obtain.”


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