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 9:27
These words were written by the great Apostle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul’s life changed dramatically when he had an encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. From having a blood-thirsty, neo-Nazi zeal to persecute and exterminate followers of Jesus, he underwent a dramatic paradigm shift into an insatiable spiritual firebrand to share the gospel and bring others to faith and salvation found only through belief in Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.
From the moment of the Damascus Road experience, Paul would spend the rest of his life calling others to salvation and teaching the Word of the Lord to anyone who would listen. He faced immense persecution and the authorities sought his life on many occasions, but he never gave up and he never shut up sharing the gospel.
Because of Paul, untold millions of souls have found faith and salvation in Jesus.
But despite Paul’s intense passion for Christ, despite his personal encounter with the risen Lord and the many times he had been miraculously delivered from prison, shipwreck, and a myriad of persecutions, Paul was concerned for his own soul. He knew that salvation is a daily walk with God, that he would continually have to fight against the temptations of the flesh and the world and the attacks from the spirits of darkness that would seek to take him. He worried that “after I have preached to others, I myself would be a castaway.”
Paul knew the very real dangers of falling back into a life of sin after committing your life to following Christ. We are told in Hebrews 10:26-31
26. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.
27. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people.
31. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
I worry about so many people that I know today who truly believe that they can walk the wide path and enter into the narrow gate. My friend, salvation does not work that way. Jesus told both the man at the pool of Bethesda and the woman caught in adultery, “Go thy way and sin no more.”
When you come to Christ, you must repent and you must turn away from the former life of sin.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
We cannot look back and desire our old life.
No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62
We all need to take a long hard look in the mirror and never be so arrogant to think that we cannot fall. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul advises to evaluate our lives, to test ourselves to make certain we are continuing in the faith according to the Word of the Lord
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
And if you think that you will never fall, that your seat on the heaven train is secure, be wary, my friend.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12
So many Christians walk through life with the haughty attitude that life everlasting is simple to achieve with a one-time trip to an altar, a profession of faith, a quick dip in a baptismal and their eternity is secure regardless of the life they live on a daily basis.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 1 Peter 4:17-18
Let us go forth on this day with a renewed commitment to set our feet on the narrow path that leads to life everlasting. It is a small path and often difficult to navigate but there is one who will hold our hand and lead us if we only will trust and obey, Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.
May you be richly blessed today, my friends, and if I don’t meet you again here, I hope to meet you over there!