Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 1 Corinthians 9:24, 25.
Here Paul makes a sharp contrast, to put to shame the feeble efforts of professed Christians who plead for their selfish indulgences, and refuse to place themselves by self-denial and strictly temperate habits in a position that they will make a success of overcoming. All who entered the list in the public games were animated and excited by the hope of a prize if they were successful. In like manner a prize is held out before the Christian, the reward of faithfulness to the end of the race.... All ran in the race, but only one received the prize. The other struggler's for the perishable laurel wreath, however thorough their preparation, however earnest and determined their efforts, were doomed to failure. It is not so with the Christian race.... The weakest saint as well as the strongest may obtain the crown of immortal glory if he is thoroughly in earnest and will submit to privation and loss for Christ’s sake....
If we create unnatural appetites and indulge them in any degree we violate nature’s laws, and enfeebled physical, mental, and mortal conditions will result. We are hence unfitted for that persevering, energetic, and hopeful effort which we might have made had we been true to nature’s laws. If we injure a single organ of the body we rob God of the service we might render to Him.
The apostle calls our attention to the care and diligence which were required to secure the victory in these ancient games. He exhorts all who start in the Christian race to give all diligence to make success certain, while he presents before them for their encouragement the crown of glory which the righteous Judge will award to all who are faithful to the end of the race.... This crown is not a perishable chaplet of flowers, but the glorious crown of everlasting life, which awaits all who, having completed the Christian race; love the appearing of our Lord.