I have become all things to all men
1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
In today’s text Paul says: I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. That statement has certainly been taken out of context by many, to justify all sorts of things. Paul says: To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. Never does he say or imply that he became a sinner; that he participated in sin or was a partaker of evil, so that he could win those in sin. In fact he says: I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. He says: I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Many will say that Jesus Himself associated with sinners and outcasts, and so, by His example we should too. There is no evidence or example though, that Jesus participated in sin or was a partaker of evil. There is only one time that Jesus participated in sin and became a partaker of it. 1 Corinthians 5:20-21 says: Be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus, who had not sinned, participated in our sin by taking them upon Himself on the cross. He became a partaker of the consequences of our sin, by His death on the cross. Paul said he disciplined his body, so that he would not be disqualified. To be a disciple of Christ, means to be a disciplined one. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me,‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he whodoes the will of My Father in heaven.Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have wenot prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’Andthen I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” We too should discipline our bodies, not practicing, participating or partaking of sin and lawlessness, so that we will not be disqualified from the kingdom, but rather will be partakers of the gospel we preach.
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” When we associate with sinners in the world, as Jesus did, it is not so that we would participate in or embrace sin. Rather, it is so that they would see our good works, that even in the darkest of evil, the light of Christ, who knew no sin, would be seen. Paul says: Do not be idolaters…Nor let us act immorally…Nor let us try the Lord…Nor grumble… No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Here is the thing about temptation and sin. It is not a sin to be tempted. Jesus Himself was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. (Matthew 4) Hebrews 4:15 says: We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. If we are to avoid sin, if we are not to participate in it or be partakers of it, we must resist at the point of temptation. James 1:14-16 says: Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. God provides a way out of temptation. The way out is to look toward Jesus, the one who knew no sin. We are to be like Him. We should associate with sinners and outcasts, as He did, but we also, like Jesus should not ourselves participate in sin.
The way out of temptation and sin are really the same, it is to look to Jesus. If we fail to resist temptation, and enter into sin, 1 John 1:9 says: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Paul says: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Jesus says: “Take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) To win, we must run for and with Christ. We must live as He lived. We should certainly associate with sinners and out casts like He did, but we should not become sinners to win them for Christ. Rather we should shine His light.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit; for Your example of love and compassion; of mercy and grace. Thank You also for Your example of righteousness and holiness. Thank You Jesus, for being the way out of temptation and sin; out of temptation by Your light and out of sin by Your blood. May I run the race for You and with You. Amen.