Yes, Paul tells early Christians to run the race so as to win the prize. But the fact that we run in the race has nothing whatever to do with us. Rather, Christ’s winning of the race, yea, of the battle! puts us in the field with Him as if we are running along side Him or – more accurately – as if He is running inside our bodies. So, it is God’s mercy that puts us where we are – safety on the journey to full salvation. And who will win? Each of us whose God is merciful.
“It is not neither of man willing [Therefore it is not neither of a man willing], neither running, but of God having mercy.”