“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1st Cor. 9:27)
This verse can mean only one thing in context, and must be placed beside Romans 7:25, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” There is no need to keep our body under subjection unless it is rebelling against our mind that serves Christ, our thoughts will naturally revert to the desires of the flesh, and that is when we must by our own free will make a decision as to what we will do, serve ourselves or serve Christ.
I will not say this is true for all who have been born-again, but I believe for most of us this will be a daily battle until we die, not hindering the actions of the flesh so much as the thoughts that come into our minds that we know are not pleasing to the Lord. The totality of this revolves around 1st John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” And the most incredible statement that the Lord Jesus Christ said on this subject, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28)
Our thoughts can be sin, and if we do not keep our body under subjection, thoughts will turn into actions in the material world, yet Christ made it quite clear, both are a sin.
What I ask you to contemplate today is this, is there a specific time limit on those thoughts that must be accomplished before they are considered a sin, can a passing thought be considered covetousness, how long must one remain in that season of sin before the chastisement of the Lord will fall upon that person? Can a passing, fleeting thought be considered a sin?
If so, many of us could be considered lost sheep several times a day.
Temptations formulate in our minds, contemplating them for a moment is not the same as dwelling upon them for extensive periods of time, but what if those moments arrive several times a week or months over the period of a person’s life, what if that lust of the flesh raises its ugly head, even for just a few moments occasionally over the course of an entire lifetime of one who has been crucified with Christ? “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)
All known temptations ever conceived by sinful man assailing Him constantly, and not just for the three and a half years of His public ministry, but throughout the entirety of the Lord Jesus Christ’s life here in human flesh. A burden none of us will ever be able to conceive fully.
The wants and desires of the flesh will remain with you until the day you stand before the Lord to give an account of your life, and I personally believe they will still be there until that account is given.
Keeping our body under subjection is our responsibility, we are not told that we will be changed by the renewing of our mind instantaneously here in our life, we are to do that, we are not told that the Almighty is going to make us keep every thought captive for Christ, no miracle in your life is going to happen in this respect, you are responsible to do that. The Holy Spirit is not going to force you against your will to keep your body under subjection, you have to do that.
Our justification is completely in the hands of God, but our sanctification, although the Holy Spirit is willing to lead us in the right paths, is in our hands.
You are responsible for you.