Cheaters Never Prosper - A Biblical Response Pt III
“I assure you: Anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.” - John 10:1 What does this verse have to with the 2017 Houston Astros? Maybe nothing or maybe a whole lot. There is one more piece of Theology we have to discuss before we move on to the Philosophical aspect of all this. It's one thing to just say cheating is sin, but we have to understand why it is sinful for us to truly be able to deal with this effectively. It's not enough to just call something sinful, and then leave it at that. What is it about cheating that makes it sinful? The Theology of Sin, referred to as hamartiology coming from the Greek ἁμαρτία (hamartia) meaning “to miss the mark” and -λογια, (-logia,) to study. This begins to help us understand the idea of what sin overall is. Simply put, sin is missing God’s standard for living. St. Augustine describes sin to be “"a word, deed, or desire in opposition to the eternal law of God.” But how exactly does cheating in terms of Athletic Competition fit into this definition? Does stealing signs with a camera really in opposition to the eternal law of God? “I assure you: Anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.” - John 10:1 Again what does this verse have to do with cheating in Athletics? The word ἀλλαχόθεν (allachothen) is used only twice in scripture and both by Jesus, once here in John 10 and once again in Mark 1. It is an adverb that means “by another way.” In Mark, Jesus was encouraging his disciples to keep moving so that he could continue to preach, but here in John 10 it comes with a much deeper meaning. Jesus says that the one that climbs in “by another way” is a thief and a robber. Later on in verse 10 he adds that these thieves “come only to steal and to kill and to destroy.” Last week we saw in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve get cheating in the garden. They tried to achieve knowledge, sustenance, and power “by another way.” And as a result, their innocence was stolen, death became a reality, and destruction is everywhere. But more than that, there is an underlying issue that cheating as sin brings out, and to see this we have to turn back to Exodus 20. The Ten Commandments, is one of the most well known passages in all of scripture. These 10 rules were the first of the Laws given out by God, that set the moral framework for the entire law to follow. If you could keep these 10 rules, righteousness was within your grasp.
No other gods
No misuse of God’s name
Honor the sabbath
Honor your parents
Don’t commit adultery
Of these 10, three of these we would naturally apply to the general idea of cheating. Adultery, Stealing, and potentially Slander. However, that is not the commandment I want us to consider when we look at cheating as sin. It is the commandment that we all have broken daily, and the desire to break it makes us want to achieve our goals “by another way.” “Do not have other gods besides Me.” - Exodus 20:2 This first commandment, which if we would follow, would make following all other commandments a natural response. This is the real underlying reason that cheating in any scenario, athletics included, is sinful. We want to be God. We have our goals, and we want to achieve all of them, regardless of what the goals of other people are or how it may affect them. We want to be God. Look back at John 10. “I assure you: Anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”Jesus gave them this illustration, but they did not understand what He was telling them. So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. - John 10:1-10 Next week we will begin to evaluate how we look at those that cheat, but it is important to remember today that Theology matters in Sports Ministry just as much as every other area of ministry, because like all the other areas ministry, we are in the business of redemption. While we, are driven by our sinful and human desire to become our own God “by climbing in some other way,” Jesus offers a simpler solution. He is the door, and says we can enter in to the One True God’s presence through Him. No climbing, just entering and following after him rather than our own desires. And in response, we see life rather death.