In carrying out this study, I wish to state that my text will be 1 Corinthians 9 vs. 24 – 10 vs. 13. Keep this passage in your heart as our central scripture. It will guide my writing and perspectives all through this study.
“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:27 NLT
Fear. It appears to be a word that should not be found in the mouth of someone who believes in Christ Jesus, and in His Love, Grace and Mercy. Especially from Paul, an Apostle of Grace, one should not expect to find the “fear” word in a Christian’s mouth or heart. John said that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4 vs. 18), and this taken without balance from other scriptures will mean that there should not be any form of fear in a Christian’s life.
However, Paul remarks in this passage that he has a fear in his heart. This fear, he said was the fear of stopping his journey halfway, the fear of being cast away (or as Living Bible puts it “ordered to stand aside”).
We live in such times as these when this fear appears not to be in our hearts as believers in Christ Jesus. There is this doctrine of Grace which we have imbibed in our generation that takes this fear out of our hearts.
We have the picture painted to us that God has done everything, and so there is nothing left for the believers in Christ Jesus to do. This doctrine has its foundation in scriptures, but when carried too far, it fails a crucial test of Divine character. What happens when men fail, when Christians backslide? Whose fault will it be? Was the Grace of God insufficient to keep them? Or was it their own carelessness?
Paul remarks in this passage that he has a concern in his heart, and that concern influenced his actions and attitudes towards life. His fear or concern was this- that he could be CAST AWAY. Many theologians have tried to explain what Paul meant by that. I do not intend to go into that analysis today, but I hope you will clearly see that whatever Paul meant by that, it was so serious a matter that it gave Paul great concern and influenced his actions.
Can a Christian be CAST AWAY (whatever that means), the answer is YES. If not, it would not have been a concern in Paul’s heart. Note also that when we talk about being cast away, we are not yet talking about mere church goers or those who are not believers in Christ Jesus. Paul, at this point was not just a believer, he was a preacher, yet he feared. He did not want to be cast away.
That is why I want to start on this note in this study, because if you do not believe that you (as serious as you have become as a Christian) can be cast away, then this study is not for you. In fact, endeavor to cut off this section of the Bible from your Bible, all those warnings are not for you.
However, if you have great regard for God’s word, then it is important to pay attention, and in fact pray. I say pray because, in the midst of our struggles with different sins and weaknesses, we have found a good ground to settle on a comfortable Christianity that touts God’s love, grace and mercy without any commensurate responsibility on us as Christians. We must pray that God will restore this fear in our hearts. The fear of being CAST AWAY. It is not a bad fear, but a good one. It is a HOLY FEAR. It is the fear that is common to all Holy Men.
Note that I said Holy Men, because there were people who walked carelessly in the Bible, and even though they did many great things for God, He could not set them before us as examples to follow. However, all who were Holy Men lived on this understanding, that God means business and is not to be joked with. If we do not take Him serious, we will miss out on what he has planned for us.
That God has great plans for you does not mean that you must enter into it. That He brought you out of Egypt is no guarantee that you will enter into Canaan. You can be CAST AWAY. You can fall short of the Divine glory. This is the truth, and may it sink deep into your heart. Amen.
God bless you.
PRAYERS: Lord, put your holy fear in my heart, and deliver me from carelessness. Help me to know that a careless Christian is at risk, and can be cast away. Burn this truth into my heart so that it will scare away sin and careless living from me. In Jesus Name. Amen.
For further reading: 2 Timothy 2 vs. 11-13; 1 Timothy 1 vs. 18-20; 1 Peter 1 vs. 13-17; Jude 1 vs. 4-7; Psalm 78 vs. 8-22.