He does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules
2 Timothy 2:1-21 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 11 It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If
we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 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. 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. The good news for us, in the race that we run, is that we all can receive the imperishable prize of eternal life. We do not compete with others. It is really ourselves that we compete with. That’s why it requires that we exercise self-control. To win, we must control our selfish desires and our self-centered behavior. In today’s text it says: If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. There are many who say they are running the race of faith in Christ, but they are not competing according to the rules. In our society and culture, we tend to believe that truth is modified by the whims of the culture. Our culture believes that God has changed His mind about sin; that He has adjusted His rules, morals and standards to align with the standards of lawlessness and immorality of the culture. God has given us a free will. We can choose to live by whatever rules we want, but to win the imperishable prize, we must live according to God’s rules. God has not changed the rules. In Isaiah 5:20 He said: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! In Revelation 21:6-8 He says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
The text says: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. There are many today who love to wrangle about words. They debate and argue about the meaning of individual words in scripture. They take individual verses in the Bible out of context in order to change their true meaning and application, leading to the ruin of those who listen. From Genesis to Revelation, scripture reveals God’s plan to redeem and restore man and creation from the effects of sin. Jesus is the fulfillment of that plan. Accurately handling the word of truth will always lead to the one who is the truth. In John 14:6 Jesus says: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
The text says: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” It is not enough that we know that Jesus is Lord. We must also be known by Him. It is not enough that we call Him Lord; He must be Lord. We cannot practice lawlessness and participate in wickedness and say that we are His. In John 14:15;21;23-24 Jesus says: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments… He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit, You set the race before us and provided the way for us to attain the prize. You determined the rules and when we could not follow them, You fulfilled the requirement for us. Jesus You are Lord and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I choose to walk in obedience to You. May I be known by You and abide with You both now and forever. Amen.