In reading Paul's first letter to the believers in Corinth, I have come upon some interesting information. 1 Corinthians 9:27 is a little strange in the NIV. It starts out by saying 'No, I beat my body and make it my slave...'. I have to admit that this did not make any sense to me 20 minutes ago.
Reading the same verse in the KJV makes more sense. 'But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection...'. NOW I am starting to see what this means. I keep my body under the control of my spirit. This is directly in opposition to how the world operates. Listen to most any conversation at work or on campus, you will hear the person speak primarily about his body - about his financial concerns and recreational pursuits, his occupational goals and physical needs. (This is from Jon Courson).
Now that I am a Christ Follower though all this is turned upside down. I am to constantly place the wants, needs and pursuits of my body (my flesh) under the control of my spirit that is one with Christ Jesus. This is something that I have really been striving for lately.
One way that I have found that works for me is a change of mindset. I have changed 'I have to...' in my mind to 'I get to...'! An example for me is that starting this past month, I have made it a practice to get up at 5:30 every morning to dive into God's Word and to just spend time with God. I started out with the mindset of having to get up and it was a drudge. Lately though, I have noticed that I jump up out of bed (mind you knowing that my automatic coffee maker already has the first cup ready). I GET to spend the first several hours of my day with the Creator of the universe! What an awesome opportunity! My body (who wants to keep on sleeping) is not in control or 'on top'. I have my spirit in control of this situation. It is not always easy and I have a LONG ways to go but this is a start.
I now see Matthew 6:16 more clearly when thinking about this. Jesus does not say "IF you fast (abstain from food)" but "WHEN you fast". He knows that part of keeping our bodies in cheque and under the control of our spirit requires discipline on our part. Taking time to abstain from eating to instead spend that time praying for others. Getting my tired body out of bed at 5:30 because the King of Kings and and the Lord of Lords wants to commune with me personally.
I will strive TODAY for my spirit (under God's authority) to be in control of my will, my personality, my emotions, my all. Tomorrow morning, I will strive for the same goal.