|1 Corinthians 9:19-27 |
19 For though I am free from all men, yet I have made myself a servant to all, that I might gain the more.
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain those who are under the law;
21 To those who are without the law, as without the law, (being not without the law to God, but under the law to Christ), that I might gain those who are without the law.
22 To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And I do this for the gospel's sake, that I might be a partaker of the gospel's blessings with you.
24 Do you not know that all those who run in a race, run; but only one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain the prize.2
25 Now everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. They do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we obtain an incorruptible crown.
26 Therefore I do not run uncertainly; I do not fight like one who beats the air.
27 But I keep my body under control, and bring it into subjection; for fear that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.3 [Here Paul completely discredits the false doctrine of the Baptists: "once saved always saved."]
3 I keep my body under control, and bring it into subjection; for fear that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. Take Note! Paul, who preached the gospel with words supplied by the Spirit, who watched over these same Corinthians in the Spirit, who had mighty powers of healing, was fearful that he could be disqualified if he fell to sin in his body.
There are two steps in perfection through the grace of Christ: 1st) to be raised up to the perfection of Adam and Eve in paradise, but still capable of falling to temptation, and 2nd) to be raised up to union with Christ Jesus, an everlasting perfection, which is incapable of falling to sin or temptation. Stephen Crisp, another eminent early Quaker, writes further of this two-step perfection:
For you know while the vessel is filled with wrath, envy, or with unrighteousness of any kind, such are not yet fit for the glory of God to shine forth in. When that is removed out by judgment; and Zion is set free from oppression, then the creature returns to God a pure vessel in the righteousness that was before the fall. So a man or woman may come to Adam's state that he was in before he fell, which was without sin. Against such the judgment of God does not go forth, but they have peace with God, and fellowship in what is pure, before sin and transgression were. Those who come to this state, may be entangled again; as was Eve, and if they do not watch, they may be entangled again; but if such are faithful to the power that redeemed them from the sin, and in the power resist the temptation, then such receive the seal of eternal life in Christ Jesus, who never fell, though he was tempted, and so come to an establishment in him who never changes.
When Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, he evidently had not yet reached the 2nd state of perfection, protected from sin, as he later described: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20.