“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)
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)
Which one is it? If all the Scriptures are true, and they are, which one of these two verses stands as the greater truth? They both are, just not at the same time.
I cannot move mountains, I cannot make myself taller, cast trees into the ocean. I cannot lay my hands on the sick and heal them, I cannot even heal my own pain, but I can write these letters through it.
“Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” (Acts 20:23)
And with this knowledge, with the forewarning that pain awaited in nearly every town that he went to, Paul could keep his body under subjection and keep walking on the path set before him.
I cannot recall ever meeting a fellow born-again believer who said they were praying earnestly to be in the fellowship of the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is one thing to accept the pain when it arrives and glorify the Living God in it, it is quite another thing to ask for it.
To be saved from this body of death is to keep your body, your flesh under your minds, the mind of Christ within us, under the authority of that mind that serves the Almighty. To deny its lusts, to willingly rebuke its desires, to refrain from the offerings of this sinful world, to move forward through the suffering inflicted upon it.
The letters Paul was led to write, at least some of them, are called the Prison Epistles, and they were written in pain.
“Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.” (2nd Tim. 2:9)
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:” (Eph. 5:29)
But the man blessed by the Most High with wisdom understands there is no good in it, it is a constant enemy, and must at all times be kept under subjection.
“I want to do this!”
“No, it is not the way of one who serves the Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you desire to be Christlike my friends, there is much more to that calling than loving your neighbor and keeping yourself unspotted from the world. There is suffering and pain.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)
The flesh, that old man in us, our sinful nature knows full well how short its time is on the earth, and it wants all that it can get out of this world. The Holy Spirit offers you strength, but you must be the one who initiates and perseveres to deny it, you must be the one that says “No” to yourself.
Physical pain is a trial, it is one of the fires the Lord leads us into, and in these times, when the fire gets so hot, we pray to be released from the flesh.
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12)
The mind that serves Christ must be the master of the flesh, it must keep it under subjection in every circumstance, and in the greatest of trials, we call upon our Father to save us from it.
The battle may not be continuous, but when it arrives, it can be fierce.
There are places of rest on the path to that straight gate, use them, relish in them, but know this, from each of them you can see the storms up ahead, and in these moments the flesh will attempt to persuade you to remain in that comfortable place.
Here also you must keep it under subjection.
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: (Job 13:15a)
Through its sinful desires, through the physical pain, the suffering and sorrow, He is with you, but it is up to you to get up and keep moving forward.