Monday, October 22, 2012

The Cycle of Sin

By Brenda Black

Lance Armstrong -- the very name elicits images of strength and athletic heroics. It used to, that is. Now the famous cyclist's name is mud and it's being dragged through the media with a vengeance.

The final verdict from the powers that be in the professional cycling world condemns Armstrong of “masterminding a doping strategy that involved prohibited drugs, blood transfusions and elaborate schemes to fool testing authorities,” writes reporter Martin Rogers.

The iconic athlete was stripped of each of his seven Tour de France titles. His reputation now morphs from stellar to stupid, while million-dollar endorsements disappear into the dust. The saddest indictments are how self-deceived this man and how many suffer because of his sin.

With any fallen hero, a fan base comprised of young and old, trusting and loyal people, is left in the wake. The winners that should have been, instead had their moment of glory and fame stolen selfishly and deceitfully from them, never to be regained. In fact the history books will just declare no winner at all for those seven prestigious titles. Shameful, costly, and so disappointing.

Is it pride, greed, selfishness, or arrogance that leads a man to believe he is above accountability? Does he think he is more deserving or afraid that he is not? How can he lie for so long that he believes the lies to be truth?

As long as sin is given rein to go unbridled and as long as others will turn the other way or empower such destructive choices, the sinner certainly loses more than he ever gains. And every life he impacts loses as well.

Most of us will never compete for world titles and our faces won't grace giant billboards or cereal boxes. We may never dream of experimenting with drugs and wouldn't dare consider cheating. Still, we are sinners just the same. I don't say that to excuse Armstrong's gargantuan assault on athletic integrity. It's just the truth.

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
From blatant hypocrisy to subtle deceit, we sin. We lie, we gossip, we offend without cause and live far from holy lives, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...” (Rom. 3:23)

Amazingly, that holy God will forgive in an instant if we just repent. IF we repent.

“...this [Armstrong] story is close to having run its course,” writes Rogers. “a defining step at the end of a tale that has unraveled to expose extraordinary details of wrongdoing behind what was once considered an extraordinary tale of human achievement.

“All that is left is for Armstrong now is to reveal all, to tell the world what, how and why he fooled so many for so long. But for an athlete for whom denial and deceit has seemingly become second nature, such a reversal must be considered unlikely.”

courtesy of
The death trap is set. Either he can come clean and confess and seek forgiveness or he stands to lose more than just a few worldly titles. He risks heaven itself. The Apostle Paul once wrote to the Church in Rome warning them of the deadly consequences of sin compared to the life-giving results of righteousness. “ not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)

The real battle for Armstrong, and for each of us, is not a competition for our reputation in and of itself. It is a race for grace. God waits with open arms. He wipes our record clean, not of trophies undeserved, but of sin unchecked. He replaces the exposed crimes with His mercy and sees us as winners again. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Rom. 3:22) In this perfect cycle, God takes our ruination and makes us right again.

We can't undo history or unhurt people injured by our own selfish sins. But we can live differently each day ahead when we count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

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