By Jimmy Tuten
The apostle Paul speaks of self-discipline in his discussion of the Christian rue (1 Cor. 9:24-26). He says, “but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any mans, when I have preached to others. I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27). To “keep under my body” involves two things: entire conquering of the body by the mind and the mind subjected to the Spirit of Christ. We cannot let out bodies become the master of our minds. If our mind is false and unloyal to Jesus there can be no discipline. A gospel preacher may convey to others the rays of the sun of righteousness, and yes his own heart remain a cold as ice. A magnifying glass had in the right position by the hand of a child an convey sufficient fire through it to engulf an entire city in conflagration. However, the glass itself remains unheated, though fire has passed through it. So it is with those who preach if they do not maintain self-control. This terrible fact is al too obvious. Too many have already been taken captive by Satan to deny this all important need for fortitude. This “one thing I do” shows that the whole man is to be given to the task. There is no room for the “now-and-then” sprit in the fife of a preacher. We must deal severely with our body. Indulgence is disaster! The race we run is act merely a contest, it is a conflict, not only with others, but with self as well.
Mastery of self and control of the lusts that war against the flesh should be the goal of each Christian. Only by doing this can one please the Lord and live a life of joy in hope of victory. How sad to see the Christian letting up on his vigilance only to allow Satan to entrap him. Many have lost their freedom of action and have become slaves to degrading habits. Their status as free man has been destroyed. They have been taken “captive of Satan at his will” (2 Tim. 2:26). How repulsive to see gospel preachers, who know that the pleasure of sin are but for a season, indulging themselves therein only to find bitter dregs their reward. Self-indulgence, which is so appealing to some, is but the worm on the devil’s hook which eventually will lead the unwary in the “creel of hell.”
The failure of self-discipline resulting in one’s slowly and surely being drawn to eternal destruction can be illustrated in the story of the Citizens of Southern Italy. These citizens of Sybaris were great horsemen. They depended upon their cavalry to defend them in time of war. These people were also lovers of music and the soldiers trained their horses to dance to the sound of flutes. In the war with Crotone, a neighboring city, this practice resulted in catastrophe. You see, a cavalry charge was wrecked because the Crotoneae musicians in the front lines shrewdly “struck up a tune” and the horses, charmed by the piping rhythm, danced instead of charging. The Sybarites were massacred as a result of this shrewd plot.
This writer cannot help but believe that this describes the unwary preacher, who thinking he is engaging in same happy pastime as he indulges in the lusts of the flesh, soon finds himself fit neither for battle ram for the Celestial City. When the devil strikes up his enticing music, the evil habits one has acquired immediately makes him dance to the devil’s time. Thus he is taken captive at his will and slowly drawn to eternal destruction. “But I keep my body, and bring it into subjection….”
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 15, p. 458
August 4, 1983