Hit Him Under the Eye

G. C. Willis

(1 Corinthians 9:27)

Who was hit under the eye? Paul was! Who hit Paul under the eye? Paul did! He made a practice of doing it. “I buffet my body under the eye, and lead it away a slave.” The word comes from hupopion, “the part of the face below the eyes.”

Dear Christian, here is a fight worth while. Here is a fight that will keep you at it all the rest of your life down here. Do not think because you give him one hard blow under the eye that you have laid him out for good and all. Very far from it: you will find “the old man” up and at it again in no time. Do not ever, ever for one moment, let your “body” lead you away as a slave, or you will find it terribly bitter work. Do not let your “body” hit you under the eye: many a good soldier of Jesus Christ has been rendered unfit for service in just this way.

But you will find, if you try it, that you are no match for the body. You will cry out, as Paul once did, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” with the triumphal cry: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ro. 7:24-25). Yes, tell the Lord plainly that you have no strength at all yourself for the fight, and He must do it all. Cast yourself without reserve on Him; and then, then, you will be enabled to “hit him under the eye, and lead him away a slave.”

Do you remember it says in another place, “leading captive every thought into the obedience of the Christ” (2 Co. 10:5). The Greek word for “leading captive” here is an entirely different work in Greek to that used in 1 Corinthians 9:27, for “bring it into subjection.” This word in 2 Corinthians 10 is taken from a word that means “to throw a spear.” Perhaps it is because our thoughts are so elusive, so very hard to get hold of to lead captive, that the Spirit of God uses this word telling of throwing a spear. But, thank the Lord, not only is it possible to lead the body away as a slave, but even to lead captive every thought to the obedience of Christ; and that is, I suppose, the very hardest of all.

Dear fellow-soldier of Jesus Christ, let us not be satisfied with anything short of this. Good it is, unspeakably good, to have our sins forgiven. Never can we cease to praise and give thanks for this: this is according to the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7). But in the next chapter of Ephesians we find “the exceeding riches of His grace.” The very first page of the New Testament tells us there is something more than the forgiveness of our sins: “Thou shalt call His Name JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins.” Not only from the penalty of them, but from our sins themselves. “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Ro. 6:14). Literally this is, “Sin shall not lord it over you.”

So, dear Reader, follow the example of the Apostle Paul, and make a practice of hitting your body under the eye (not literally, like the old monks), and of leading it away a slave: to do what you tell it: to be subject to you-the new man. And remember it is all through the grace and the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word is used on only one other occasion in the New Testament, and that is in Luke 18:5. You remember the widow woman who kept going to the judge who feared not God nor respected man. She wanted him to avenge her of her adversary, but at first he would not. However later on he said to himself, “If even I fear not God and respect not man, at any rate because this annoys me I will avenge her, that she may not by perpetual coming completely harass me” (New Translation). Mr. Darby did not like to translate it by saying the judge feared the widow woman would hit him under the eye, or give him a black eye, as the dictionary says it may be translated. And I do not blame Mr. Darby; yet, that is what the Spirit of God wrote down, to encourage us to come, and come, and come again in persevering prayer; and never give in to evil thoughts of discouragement. We ought always to pray and not to faint. And you remember in Isaiah 62:6-7 we read, “Ye that are the Lord’s remembrancers, keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (margin). Think of the Lord Himself telling us to “give Him no rest!” After the war it was almost impossible to get a passage out to China. I wanted one very badly, and heard of a small ship that was going to Shanghai. It had no passenger accommodation, but it was a ship and was going to China. Every day I went to that shipping office, and asked for a passage. The man in charge was most courteous, but always put me off: but next day I would be back again. At last he said to me, “It must be a great deal of trouble for you to come to see me so often: just leave me your telephone number and I will call you when I know if we can give you a passage or not.” I assured him I had nothing else to do at that time except to get that passage, and I would be down every day to see him-I would give him no rest. The next day we got our passages. But who would have thought of the Lord God Almighty talking to us like that? Oh how little do we know of true prayer, and how little do we know of the heart of our God!