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Free From The Law, Bound By The Gospel

John Collins12/09/2012In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul makes the proclamation that we are free from the law, but bound by the Gospel.  A Christian does not forfeit his rights, as some modern-day pastors and evangelists proclaim.

He asks them: "Am I not free?  Am I not an apostle?  Have I not seen Jesus?"  

Paul reminded them that among men, he truly could have been considered great.  But instead of desiring to boast of himself, Paul lifted up others so that they could help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To those who wanted to abstain from eating or drinking meats or drinks forbidden by the law, he asked them: "Do we not have the right to eat and drink?"  To those who stumbled upon the laws concerning marriage and divorce, he asked them: "Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife?" 

Workers of the Gospel are not to be bound by the laws of man, and are free from the Mosaic law while under the New Covenant.  They are not to be burdened down into submission, but are to rejoice in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul asked them, "Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?"

Paul, however, forfeited his right so that others might be made free.  He said that he surrendered his rights, enduring the burdens rather than put any obstacle in the way of quickly spreading the Gospel.  

He said that for the Jews, he becomes a Jew in order to win the Jews over to Christ.  To those burdened under the law, he became as one under the law.  But, he was very clear that he was not under that same law, saying: "though not being myself under the law."  Paul said that his goal in placing himself under these laws was to win those under the law.

To those outside the law, Paul becomes as one outside the law.  To the weak, he became weak so that he might win the weak.  He became all things to win all people.  By becoming like the people he tried to win over to Christ, Paul tried to save the lost for the sake of the Gospel and share the blessings.

Paul used the example of the race.  All runners run, but only one receives the prize.  We should run like the runners, as though we were the one who would win the prize!  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things to receive their prize, which is a winner's wreath that will fade away.  But we go after a prize that will never perish.  

Paul said that he did not run aimlessly in his journey towards the goal.  He had reasons for placing himself under the law to win those bound by it, or becoming weak to win others who were weak.  Paul was a perfect example of how a Christian should strive to help others in their journey to Christ.

As Christians, we should ask ourselves how our race is run.  Do we become weak to help the struggling, or do we think that we are somehow better than them?  Do we sit with the sinners as Christ did, or do we separate ourselves from them as though they were diseased?  Do we bound ourselves by law to help others who have been falsely taught law, or are we the ones needing rescued?  Or, have we simply given up in life's race, sitting on the ground watching the other runners go by?