The Lawful Strife
2 Timothy 2:5
And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

Man likes to choose his own way; but the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has marked out a way for him: hence one reason at least of his unwillingness to go along it. The text tells us that we must put off this perverseness of the old man, and put on all the obedience of the new man, following the direction which the Lord hath given. Man's will is to have no change of his ways, no sorrow for the past, no amendment (but he will not call it amendment) for the future. All this is too humbling to his pride, too much of a curb upon his self-will. But our Lord's precept is repentance: you must come to Me, and receive that which I give along the road of repentance. The making repentance a step, and not a course, merely a gate of introduction, and not a road also of daily conduct, is one of the short cuts by which men think to arrive at the prize, without going through all the prescribed rules of the struggle. And not only must we bring our minds to submit to the rules which our Lord hath laid down, but also our hearts to understand them: indeed, we must first understand them before we can truly accept them. We cannot in any case effectually bind ourselves to a duty of which we know not the extent; we cannot be sure of accomplishing a thing of which we have not counted the cost. Now our blessed Lord bath set before us our course, both by example and precept. And what remains is to make up our minds to rise and follow. In His trials we have the model of our lawful strife. In His ascension unto glory we see the assurance of our crown. His flesh was crucified: so must we crucify the flesh. He rose again; even so we must rise again unto newness of life. He is seated in heaven: so we must set our affections on things above. The rules are plain; they cannot he confounded with the rules of strife for any worldly mastery. We see, then, what we have to contend against. It is a compliance with the course of a sinful world; a reluctance to change our course into one which is not in conformity with it, but even in a contrary direction. It is putting God's end, indeed, before us, even the prospect of eternal life, but not using His means, but putting our own in their place, because we find them much more agreeable: it is, in short, the indulgence of our nature.

(R. W. Evans, B. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

WEB: Also, if anyone competes in athletics, he isn't crowned unless he has competed by the rules.

Regulations for Athletic Contests
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