Paul makes use of the Greek Games to illustrate the spiritual race of the Christian. The Greeks ran to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one. Unless a young man was a citizen he could not run in the races; so it is with the Christian—only the born-again are eligible to receive the crown for the spiritual race.
Just as the Greek athlete had to deny himself many pleasures, so it is with the Christian. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 9:27, “but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.” In his book “The Royal Route to Heaven,” Dr. Alan Redpath wrote these words: “I do not think for a moment that Paul was concerned that he should be lost, but he was desperately concerned that God might remove his testimony and take from him his place of opportunity and witness because deep down in his heart he had been failing to contend with the enemy. Perhaps this is the greatest battle any child of God has to face.”
The Greek games had hard and fast rules for those who wanted to enter. The New Testament sets forth the rules for the believer who would enter this race.
1. He must deny himself of anything that would weigh him down and hold him back. (Heb. 12:1)
2. He must keep his eyes on the Savior at all times and not look to the left or to the right. (Heb. 12:2)
3. He must find his strength in the Lord. (Eph. 6; 10-18)
4. He must, by faith, refuse anything that would impede his spiritual progress. (Heb. 11:24-29)
Do not be a spiritual spectator. Enter the race and run to win the “Incorruptible Crown.”
-Larry Miles, Feb. 1978 Word and Work