All We Do Is Win – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

YouTube video sermon

It is our race, church, and if we want to win, we have to work out, we have to train, we have to be disciplined! And that should excited us! WE SHOULD GET PUMPED! Training should make our adrenaline run! BECAUSE ALL WE DO IS WIN!


  • I find it fitting that today is the end of our weight loss challenge, because today I want to talk about athleticism, and the comparisons we can draw between athletes and Christians.
    • Now, like many other pastors, man I love a good sport’s metaphor.
    • I love to draw comparisons between the sports world and the athletic world.
      • If you were here early on during our church planting you would have heard me use a lot of references to the Seattle Seahawks… but then I realized that only Scott got the references so I decided to cut that out.
      • I tried to follow the bears to use them in sermons, but all they do is lose! And I don’t want to preach a sermon on losing!
      • Man I want to preach a sermon on winning!
    • I remember pastor Jay, from Faith and Victory, once saw a high school sign that said “All we do is win” and I have often though of that phrase… something about it get’s me pumped up.
    • How many of y’all know that as Christians all we do is win? Our team has never lost and never will! We are Christians and we serve a God who has never lost and never will, ALL WE DO IS WIN!
  • That’s what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about winning! I want to talk about dominating the other team, I want to talk about pushing through, fighting hard, running fast, and destroying the competition.
    • We are winners, AMEN?
  • Paul love’s himself some sports metaphors too! Greek was huge into sports, namely wrestling and running. I mean the invented the Olympics after all. And in Corinth they held some of Greeks biggest sporting competitions, called the Isthmian games… there people from around the world came to watch the races and the fights… and it is likely what Paul is referencing in today’s text. Would you all turn to me to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  (25)  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  (26)  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  (27)  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.


Point One – In a race there are winners and losers, be a winner!

  • Point one this morning is this: In a race there are winners and there are losers. In a race, there are winners and losers… so be a winner!
  • Look again at verses 24 and 25:

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ESV  (24)  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  (25)  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

  • Paul is saying “This life is like running a race, the Christian life is like running a race! And in a race there are winners and there are losers, so we need to run like winners! WE NEED TO WIN THIS RACE!”
  • Now naturally this statement is going to be met with some skepticism… is Christianity really a competition? Are we really competing for something. Is there really winners and losers?
  • The answer to that question is absolutely.
    • But here is the deal church, we need to define who our opponent in our race is. Because it is not Non-Christians. They are not who we are racing against.
    • On the contrary, it is them who we are racing for! They are the prize in which we hope to obtain.
    • You see we already have obtained our salvation, it was a gift freely given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. We need not race for it again.
    • I am not saying that we all need to run to Jesus as fast as we can and some are going to make it and some are not. No, if you are thinking that way, which would be natural, you have the wrong picture of this race.
      • This race is not against other Christians, it is not a race against non-Christians, no, this is a race against the devil, a race against his minions. This is a race against our flesh, and it is a race against time.
    • Folks the reality of life is this, heaven is real, hell is real, and everyone on earth is going one of those places. Everyone. The person you passed on the side of the street, your coworkers, your friends, your family. They are either going to heaven, or they are going to hell.
      • And they are the prize of our race.
      • If we win, many are saved and come to repentance, if we lose, they are lost and go to h-e-double hockey sticks.
      • And I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t want anyone to go to hell! So I am going to fight for them, I am going to run for them, I am going to do everything I can to help them come to Christ!

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ESV   Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  (25)  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

  • And remember the context of this verse is Paul talking about his calling to preach the Gospel. So really what he is saying is this “I was called to preach the Gospel, so I am literally going to preach the hell out of some people!”
    • Guy’s I want to win! I want to see people saved! I want to see the devil defeated! I want to see hell plundered and heaven populated!
    • I want to, at the end of my life, be able to look my Savior in the eye and say “I ran the best race that I could, I pushed through, I worked hard, and for You Lord, for Your Glory, for Your Kingdom, I won!”
    • I don’t want to get to heaven and be like “Well I realize that most of my friends are not Christians… but you know what they say “There are two things you don’t talk about, politics and religion” right? I mean… Lord I didn’t want to offend anyone”.
      • Offend anyone? What’s more offensive than damning someone to hell? Because when you decide in your heart that you are not going to preach the gospel to your friend, you are not going to tell them about Jesus, you are literally saying “I would rather you burn in hell then have to talk to you about Jesus”.
    • But I want to be the guy who says “I won! I won this soul, and I won that soul, and that one guy everyone warned me about and told me not to even try, I preached the hell out of him too! I ran as hard as I could Lord, and because of You working through me, all we did was win!”

Point Two – Fight with a goal, run with and aim!

  • That brings me to point two, fight with a goal, run with an aim. Look what Paul says in verse 26.

1 Corinthians 9:26 ESV  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

  • Guys I can tell you as a pastor that the majority of Christian’s, especially American ones, run their Christian race aimlessly.
    • They have no goal, they have no path, they may not even know where their opponent is, or who it is for that matter.
    • Guy’s no one has ever won a race just because they decided to go out for a jog.
      • Right? No one was like “Hmmm, it’s a fine day for a run” then went running and wound up winning Gold in an Olympic race. It would never happen.
      • One, because they would not be fast enough.
      • Two, because they are not registered for the race.
      • And three because they are not racing on the right track.
    • No athlete was ever like “You know I am just going to run randomly at different places and hopefully there will be a race where I happen to run and then maybe I will win it or something”. Like your not going to see the quote on the back of a Wheaties box.
  • Yet this is how so many Christians live their lives. This is how so many of us run the race.
    • Like “I will go to church if I have time… and if there is a missions trip I will think about going maybe, if work will let me off, and oh I guess I could preach every once in a while if the preacher gets sick… and well hopefully God uses me to lead someone to Christ!”
    • Man that’s like 99% of American Christians… we just live our lives and we add Jesus to it when necessary.
      • Like having Jesus isn’t some huge life changing event, it is just something we do when it is convenient.
      • You think that is how Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, lives his life?
        • Like he just runs when it is convenient. Maybe once a week, if he is up to it… I mean, that’s more than most people run right, so he should be good?
        • NO WAY! Hussain Bolt eats drinks and sleeps running! His life is running!
      • Should not our lives be Jesus. Should not our lives be focused on the calling and the mission that He has given us?
    • And remember, this section of 1st Corinthians comes on the heels of Paul saying “What else would I do but my calling? I was called to preach the Gospel, that is my calling, I would rather die then not preach the Gospel!”
      • So when Paul is talking about running the race, and running to win, he is talking about the race of our calling. So when I say fight with a goal, run with an aim, I am talking about your calling! Have direction in your life, a direction dictated by the calling God put on you!
    • Ok, by a show of hands, how many of y’all know what your calling is? How many know what God want’s you to do with your life?
      • Praise God! I want to speak to those of you who raised your hand. This question is for you: What are you actively doing to pursue that calling? How many days pass where you don’t think about that calling? Is it your everything, or is it just an add on? Does it define you?
      • I am a pastor, it defines who I am, how I think, how I operate, what I set my mind on, even how I recreate. I will always be a pastor, for that is what God called me to. Some of you are preachers, others teachers, others pastors, others are apostles, missionaries, or evangelists. Let that define you in as much running defines Usain Bolt!
      • And please guy’s, don’t make excuses. There is nothing you can do that negates your calling. You can’t sin your way out of your calling. God is not going to change his mind about your calling. God is not going to call you and then take it back because you had kids.

Romans 11:29 ESV  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

  • Whatever your calling is OWN IT! BE IT! WIN IT! ALL WE DO IS WIN!
  • Now, to the rest of you who didn’t raise your hand. Praise God for you, because you are here, faithfully worshiping and serving your God.
    • To you who don’t know your calling. What are you doing to find it? What are you doing to ask God for it. How many days go by where you don’t seek your calling?
      • Because if you don’t know your calling, you are like a soldier without orders, or a runner who doesn’t know where to race. Just running around all over the place hopping that somewhere you happen to win a race you didn’t even enter.
      • If you don’t know what I am talking about when I say calling, I am speaking about the way God call’s each and every believer to a certain service to His Kingdom.
      • He gives us each marching orders and tells us “This is what you are going to do with your life in order to serve Me”.
      • We find a basic list of callings in Ephesians 4:11-12

Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  (12)  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

  • So, according to Ephesians there are SIX callings that we can have.
    • We can be an Apostle, that is a church planter and overseer. I believe there may be some apostles here today.
    • You can be called to be a prophet. A prophet is someone who is specially gifted with the gift of prophecies in an above and beyond way. They are a mouth piece for God. Thy often build up, but sometimes they warn or even rebuke. These are the guys who from time to time stand up and say “Thus sayeth the Lord!” We see many examples of prophets in the Bible.
    • You can be called to be an evangelist, someone whose soul purpose in life is to share the Gospel and lead as many people to Christ as possible. Evangelists make for some of the best missionaries!
    • Alright, you can be a shepherd. The word Pastor is just the Greek word for Shepherd. A Pastor, or a Shepherd, is someone who watches over God’s people, who takes care of them, protects them, helps guide and encourage them.
    • Then there are teachers, people who are gifted with the ability to impart knowledge on a special level.
    • Now all of these callings are important, but there is one more calling that we miss sometimes… it is the saints who are the workers of the ministry.
      • This calling is a hugely important one, those who work in the ministry to build churches, build ministries, grow the kingdom, love and disciple new converts.
    • Now I think most if not all Christians are called to one of these callings, please don’t assume that you are called to anyone because you like the way it sounds or feel that it fits you best. Instead, pray and seek God’s guidance. If you are still struggling, talk to your discipler or come and talk to me or Amanda about it and we will pray with you.
    • But guy’s it is so important we know what our calling is. Remember one of the things we are racing against is time.
      • We only have so much time on this earth to do what God has called us to do, how much of it are we going to waist on areas outside of our calling?
    • You know what I have never understood? Peet-Peve time! I never understood why so many students change their major, it drives me crazy, I think it is lunacy! I looked it up too, check this out:
      • According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once. On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career.
      • THREE TIMES‽ WHAT‽ That’s crazy to me! I have meet students and knew students when I was in college who changed their major so many times that their four year degree took 8 years to complete!
        • Think about all the time and money wasted! Wasted because these students were running aimlessly!
        • Let us not, like the majority of college students, waist our time here on earth pursing things that are not of God, or even pursing things of God that God does not have for us!
        • I can tell you there are pastors in the pulpit who were never called to be pastors. There are evangilists never called to be evangilists, and I know many people living their lives as ministry builders, sitting in the back row helping build ministries, even though they have been called to be pastors, or prophets, but they hide from their calling as ministry builders.
        • Let us not waist our time outside of our calling. Let us find out where God want’s us to run, and lets win that race!
      • Now this doesn’t mean we don’t help out in other areas when we are needed, we all help one another out, but it means our pursuit should be that of our calling!

Conclusion – Be disciplined in all things, least you be disqualified

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

  • You know what I don’t like to do? I don’t like to work out. It’s true, that’s why I did not win the CLC fitness challenge!
    • But when I was in MMA, I loved it! Why? BECAUSE I WANTED TO WIN!
    • So I trained hard, and I felt my body getting stronger, that meant getting closer to winning!
  • So it is in our race, church, if we want to win, we have to work out! We have to be disciplined! And that should excited us! WE SHOULD GET PUMPED! Training should make our adrenaline run! BECAUSE ALL WE DO IS WIN! And we are going to make sure that we win! NOTHING IS GOING TO STOP US! COME ON! ALL WE DO IS WIN!
  • I want to close with this example, I have preached it before, but it is so good, it comes from a teaching by John Piper on Hebrews 12:1

Hebrews 12:1 ESV  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

  • Now I don’t think I need to preach about sin, I hope we all know we should be purging the sin from our lives. But look here… lay aside every weight, every encumbrance.
  • Church we should never ask the question “Is it a sin” That is about the lowest question we can ask as Christians “is it a sin”*Scoff*
    • Instead we ought do ask ourselves “Does it help me run?” “Does it help me win” “Or is this just going to slow me down‽”
    • When Usain Bolt is deciding what to eat for dinner he does not ask himself “Am I allowed to eat Taco Bell for dinner?” no he asks “Is this Cheesy Gordita Doritos Taco going to help me run, or is it just going to slow me down?” ‘Caus if it’s going to slow him down I can gaurentee you he is not going to eat.
  • Real life example, my wife and I enjoy watching TV shows, especially comedies… but it is really hard to find comedies that are not full of gross and sinful stuff. Non-the-less, we found one that we really liked and was not full of sex and swearing… but after a handful of episodes they started introducing some sinful content, bit was behind the scenes, it was not tempting us to sin, I don’t think watching it was sinful… but we had to ask ourselves… is this helping us run? We concluded that it was desensitizing us to sin, slowly, but non-the-less. So we cut it out of our lives.
    • Because I WANT TO WIN! And I am not going to let some dumb comedy TV show slow me down!
  • Guy’s I want us all to be winners! That means we have to be focused, we have to be on fire, and we have to be disciplined, amen?