Christianity and Sports

Audio: mp3

I often wonder why the truth is not popular. The desire for an easy religion that requires no striving, no self denial, no divorce from the follies of the world has made the doctrine of faith and faith only a popular doctrine. Faith requires us to grow and because growth is part of faith then growth produces things. If something isn’t growing, it is dead. The Bible teaches us that faith without works is dead. Faith requires striving, self-denial and a divorce from worldly follies. This is what makes truth unpopular.

I want to share a message that will cause us to examine ourselves, to know whether we are in the faith.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

The Words of Scripture are calling upon us to examine not the person next to us, not the people down the road, not the people in the other churches, but examine yourself whether you are in the faith. Know your own selves, it says. Is Jesus Christ in you or not; is the question you need to ask yourself. Do I have Christ living in me? I need to examine and scrutinize myself. Is it Christ or is it something else that is in me. If Christ is not in me then I am a reprobate. Reprobate is a morally deprived, unprincipled, wicked person. Unfortunately, that’s how we are without Christ, all of us. It doesn’t matter where we are born, what class of society we are in, what people think of us, if we do not have Christ in us then we are morally deprived, unprincipled, wicked people.

Now the question is how do I know if Christ is in me? How I do know this? A better question is what does it mean to have Christ in me? Firstly, we need to establish who Christ is. What makes Christ, Christ? Is it His arms and His legs? Is that what makes Him Christ? No, it is His character, His person, His mind. That’s what makes somebody, somebody; the character, the mind. The question really is do I have Christ’s mind in me? Does my mind function in the same way Christ’s mind functions? That is the question. Philippians 2:5 shows us exactly where we need to examine ourselves.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

That’s what it means to have Christ in you; to have His way of thinking, His view on life. I need to examine myself. Am I in the faith? What does that mean? Do I have Christ’s mind? Do I see things the way He sees things? Do I do things the way He does things? Am I in the faith?

What would happen if I had a little bit of the mind of Christ and a little bit of the mind of self? What would that produce? Would that be called double minded? The Bible says that a man can be double minded.

James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

There is stability in a mind that is only set on itself and the world. There is more stability in such a life than having a bit of the mind of Christ and a bit of the world, trying to satisfy both concepts and mentalities for we will become unstable. Apostle James calls upon us to cleanse our double minded ways. Before he calls upon us to do this, he makes this statement:

James 4:4-8 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

This is the message to Christians. If you call yourself a Christian then this message is for you. Do not be double minded. If we are double minded we are committing adultery. Can any person that continues to commit adultery enter into the kingdom of heaven? No. This sin must be repented off and be forsaken. If we have friendship with the world then we are double minded. We might have a Christian mindset to a certain degree yet still have a fondness to worldly activities. While ever we hold the fondness of these worldly activities we are double minded and when we are double minded we are not in the faith. I have to examine myself where am I fond of the world.

Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Even the death of the cross! Let this mind be in you. How far do you want to serve God? Do you want to serve Him and be servant of the Lord unto death, even the death of the cross? Not all deaths are of equal magnitude. You could be shot in the forehead at point blank range and it wouldn’t be that big of a deal because you wouldn’t know anything after that bullet entered your brain. But the cross is that on the same level as being shot in the head? This is great suffering, conscious suffering. Are you willing to endure major conscious suffering to be obedient to Christ? Are you in the faith?

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

If we do not take up our cross, which was the symbol of Christ’s death, and follow Him in that path, we are not worthy to be called Christians. The world would do better if such people who do not want to go down that path at all would remove their name from Christianity.

Philippians 2 tells us to ‘let this mind be in you’. Examine yourself whether you are in the faith. Is Christ in you or not? If He is not you are reprobate and you are not in the faith. We think, “Okay, Christ did not make Himself of any reputation.”

Philippians 2:2-3 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteems other better than themselves.

Let this mind be in you, which is also in Christ Jesus. What sort of mind? Let nothing be done, nothing. Do you think that Christianity should penetrate every particular of our life? What if no one is watching? What about in our home life where the people around us cannot see? Should Christianity; should the mind of Christ penetrate that area of my life? ‘Let nothing be done’ means nothing at all will be done through strife or vainglory.

When I think of vainglory, do you know what I think about? I think about sport. I think it is probably the vainest thing in the world to be so fanatical about kicking a piece of leather through some poles, being so entrenched in a sport and consider the reward that people get, the pay that people get for running around, chasing a piece of leather. How would your life be at the end you would have thought, “Well, what have I accomplished? I have accomplished throwing the most balls in a basket. That’s my accomplishment in my life.” What is it that I’m going to achieve at the end? Is that going to make the grave any sweeter? Is it going to open the portals of heaven for me; that I have achieved so well in some sport? If we ponder the vanity of sport and how much the world actually considers it glory, we would do well to consider that if we want to be in the faith we could really partake in vainglory. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.

Baseball consists of hitting the ball, you run around in a circle, and every one claps. What does it achieve? Does it make the world a better place? Does it help the homeless? Does it feed the poor? No not at all.

Our consideration is sport and Christianity. Should Christians involve themselves in sports? We read a text that equates the spiritual walk with a sporting activity. I know that this message is not a popular message so if you are upset that is no surprise. If we want to be in the faith, there are certain things that we need to get rid of. We need to divorce ourselves from the follies of this world.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Greece

The apostle is showing the fanaticism that was in sports in his day. We often think that sports are more of a recent thing and that Christ didn’t live in a time when there were sports so He wasn’t tempted with sports but you know that is false. Do you know that Greeks ruled the world and in ruling the world, they decided to not just conquer by ruler ship but they want to spread the culture of Greece to the entire world? One thing they invented was a set of games called the Olympic Games. They were established before Christ was born into the world. We have no record that Christ went to the Olympic games nor do we have any record that Christ watched the Olympic games. We need to follow Him in that. We don’t need to be involved in such Greek paganism. That’s exactly what it is, Greek paganism.

Paul knew the fanaticism of the Greeks and their culture. In fact, history tells us there were Jewish gymnasiums in Judea. Even the rabbis engaged in a certain level of sports. Paul takes advantage of this fanaticism. They are so fanatical in regards to their sport that as they train they are temperate, they don’t want to indulge in anything because they want to be fit, and they want to win the race. Paul said they do that for a corruptible crown. Christians, how fanatical are you about Christ?

Fanatical is a word that has a negative term in today’s society but do you know that the word fan is just the shortened version of fanaticism or fanatic? You shorten that and that’s where you will get the word fan. So, who is a fan of a sport team? If you are a fan of a sport team, you are a fanatic. That’s English. If you are fan of a certain person, you are a fanatic. It’s common for me to be called a fanatic. That’s exactly what I am. I am fanatic. Do you know who I am a fan of? Jesus Christ. I am a fan of Jesus Christ and I’m not ashamed of that one bit. If anyone wants to call me a fanatic or anyone wants to call anyone who is a fan of Jesus a fanatic, take that as a compliment but we cannot get away from the fact that the world is definitely fanatical about sport. That’s a blazing fact.

Paul picks up on their fanaticism and how particular they are in health and training and he says that if you apply that energy, that enthusiasm in the spiritual walk, you do well. Don’t you know that in a race only one person wins the prize? Is that case in the spiritual walk? Not at all, we can all win the prize.

The thing about sport is that for one to win the price, it requires lots of people to lose. The glory that is involved in sport is not just in the fact that a person won, but they glory in the fact that the others didn’t win. Other people’s failures are taken advantage of. This causes strife. Have you ever seen in a sports game that after one team loses, there is violence displayed? Does that happen in sport? Strife is involved. So often, where there is vainglory there is strife.

The Scripture says let this mind be in you. If you are going to be a Christian, if you want Christ to be in you, examine yourselves within the faith. If you do anything through strife or vainglory, then we must conclude that Christ’s mind is not in me and if Christ is not in me, then I am a reprobate even if I claim to be in the faith. This is quite a challenging concept that one person wins the price at the expense of everybody else.

When I was young, I ran in a race. I told everyone that I came fourth in the race but there were only four people in the race. So there is really no glory in that because essentially I came last. If you ran the race and you were the first but the truth was that you were the only person in the race, is there any glory in that? Not at all. You actually need people to lose for you to receive glory. If you run a race against a million people and you came first, how much glory will you have? Essential the more the people that lose the greater glory you gain. This fundamental principle of mind is far from Christ as Satan himself. Let us consider what the Bible says in regards to how we need to treat people that lose:

Proverbs 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

Can you apply this to sport? You couldn’t play sport if you applied this verse. You could never be happy winning the game if you applied this because for you to win requires someone else to fail. The Bible says rejoice not, but we can think, ” Well, when I play sport, the other person isn’t really my enemy.” Do you know they actually are? When it comes to the end goal, they are your enemy. They might not be your enemy in every aspect of life but when it comes to what you are trying to achieve, they are the opposing force. If you were playing rugby or a football sport, if as you are running with the ball, and just as your opposing force was about to catch you and tackle you in the ground they tripped over, would you smile? Would you be a little gleeful at the fact that they fell over and you could go through, do a touchdown, and score would you be slightly happy about that? If so, we break exactly what the Bible says. If we just are glad when he stumbles, we don’t have the mind of Christ.

Christ is not glad when His creatures sin and fall over. Christ doesn’t rejoice in heaven every time you sin. While we were yet enemies, we were the enemies of Christ; the world is the enemy of Christ, but does Christ laugh and be joyful when His creatures fall into sin? Not at all. He is so, so sad. In fact, the testimonies say that there is weeping in heaven. That is such a far cry from being in a big football stadium. Can imagine the winning team crying because the opposing team fell over? Does that happen?

As Christians, we might not be actually playing the sport; we might be sitting down watching it. If you are a fan of a certain team, you want to see them play. You are very interested in that team. Although you are not in the game itself, you are still happy when the other team fails; there is a big sense of relief. “Oh! They are winning. Great!” So whether we play sport or whether we just watch sport, we are going directly against the Words of the Scripture.

I want to remind you of something about the mind of Christ. Someone’s mind is made up of words. Essentially, if we boil everything down we are just words. Aren’t the thoughts that go around in our heads just words? Yes, that’s what they are. Thoughts are words. Those words that float around us create feelings, don’t they? Thoughts create feelings then feelings create actions and words and they create habits that make us who we are so when we boil it right down we are just thoughts and words. So, we can understand that Jesus Christ is identified in the Bible as the Word of God. That’s exactly who He is. When we disobey what the Scriptures are saying, when we rejoice when our enemy falls or the opposing force falls, when we are glad when they stumble, we are directly opposed to the Words of Christ. When we opposed to the Words of Christ, are we not opposed to the mind of Christ? If we are opposed to the mind of Christ, are we in the faith? Our consideration is to examine, examine ourselves within the faith. Are you in the faith? How are you when it comes to sport?

Micah 7:8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.

Who is the one that rejoices when the opposing force falls? Who? The devil. The devil is happy when you fall. Is God happy when you fall? No. If I am happy at the failings of another sports team, whose mind do I have? I have the devil’s mind. If I have the devil’s mind, can I go to heaven? It will be absurd to think I could. The devil was kicked out of heaven. Do you think that we can become the devil and go back into heaven? Not at all. The elements of competitive sports are biblically from the flesh.

Galatians 5:19-20 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies.

5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

If you do not know what emulation means, please look it up in your dictionary. Emulation is the principle of sport where you compete with someone else and you emulate what he or she does; you copy them to the point of beating them, being better than them. The Bible tells us emulation comes from the flesh. The interesting thing about the emulation is that it is in the list of those things that will not be part of the kingdom of God. Do you need it any clearer; if you involve yourself in emulations, in competitive sports, in watching and engaging in competitive sports, if you do that and there is no repentance from such wicked ways then don’t be deceived you will not be going to heaven. I didn’t make that up. That’s what it says. That’s what the Bible says. Because I am a fan of Jesus Christ, what He says, I take very seriously. If we do these things, we shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

What did the Bible called it? This verse is talking about the Israelites. In fact, this is a quote. Do you know where it comes from? It comes from the Old Testament in Exodus 32. This quote, word for word, comes from Exodus 32. What happened in Exodus 32? There was the golden calf. What is involved with sports? If you win what do you get? You might not get a golden calf but you might get a golden basketball or something that is called a trophy. How much do people love trophies? That’s the price. You rise up to play and at the end of playing; you come out with a golden statue. How much do you appreciate that golden statue?

I remember when I was a teenager and I played on the basketball team. We won the grand final. We got a trophy. It was my first trophy ever. I was very fond of it but do you know what happened to it on the same day? Someone sat on it and snapped it in half. Someone snapped my trophy in half and I was very upset. But in retrospect, that’s probably the biggest blessing that happened to me, that my trophy got broke the day I got it because these trophies symbolize our efforts, glory and accomplishments. That’s what the golden calf was. As people of God, are we really in the faith? Let’s not fool ourselves.

Exodus 32:6-10 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

We understand that Moses pled on their behalf but how many people died? Thousands of people died because of this activity. They came out of Egypt. They are now followers of Jesus Christ, followers of the Lord and then they were killed for this activity. Do you know what worship is? We may say we don’t worship golden calves. We don’t rub our nose on the floor and pay homage to golden statues or things like that. Do you know the word worship doesn’t mean that? The word worship simply means admiration, to admire. Just to admire. So the question is, when the game is over the goal is achieved and the trophy is made; do you admire that at all? If you admire that then you are worshipping it. Let us have common sense about the subject. If you admire it, you worship it. This idolatry is against the Ten Commandments.

It’s not just about breaking the commandment about idolatry. Even when sport is engaged; there is a form of deception. Think of volleyball. You’ve got to put the ball up, make out that you are going to hit it at a certain place, you sort of trick the opponent and put it somewhere else in their weak spot. If you are running on the football field, you would make a turn, fake it and go the other way, you have to deceive. There has to be a sense of deception to be able to get your goal. The principles employed in sports are the principles involved in war and the principles that are used in the kingdom of darkness.

The world is full of excitement. Men act as though they had gone mad over low, cheap, unsatisfying things. How excited have I seen them over the result of a cricket match! I have seen the streets in Sydney densely crowded for blocks and, on inquiring what was the occasion of the excitement, was told that some expert player of cricket had won the game. I felt disgusted. {CT 343.4}

Why are not the chosen of God more enthusiastic? Do we show the enthusiasm that the world shows in sports? Do we show that enthusiasm toward the kingdom of God, do we? Did Jesus show that enthusiasm in serving His Father? You bet He did. That was His sole focus in life; to achieve the salvation of souls. He didn’t lose sight of it. Just like the person, who wants to win the race has their goal and they work at it until they accomplish it.

Christ did the same. He was temperate in all things for the sake of saving souls. How are we when it comes to soul saving? We might think we’ve got to involve ourselves in sports to save people. People may say, “As long as we have a prayer before we play then that is okay.” As if prayer sanctions idolatry. It doesn’t. Prayer doesn’t sanction idolatry. We can’t pray over doing the wrong thing and our prayer makes it right. It’s nothing short of buying the indulgences that Tetsall was selling in the Dark Ages where you could do something and then the wrong is okay now.

Why are not the chosen of God more enthusiastic? They are striving for an immortal crown, striving for a home where there will be no need of the light of the sun or moon, or of lighted candle; for the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever. They will have a life that measures with the life of God; but the candle of the wicked shall be put out in ignominious darkness, and then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father…. {CT 344.1}

It’s a real shame actually that the world shows more enthusiasm for nothing than Christians do for everything. Ellen White was in Avondale College and at the anniversary of the erection of their first building, they decided to have some sports and two of the sports played, were tennis and cricket. This is what Ellen white saw that night after the school had played cricket and tennis.

In the night season I was a witness to the performance that was carried on on the school grounds. The students who engaged in the grotesque mimicry that was seen, acted out the mind of the enemy, some in a very unbecoming manner. {CT 350.1}

What is sport? It is the acting out of the mind of the enemy. Is there deception in the mind of Satan? Is it acted out on the playing field? Is there rejoicing over other people’s loss? Is that acted out on the field? This is what she saw. This was tennis and cricket by the way.

A view of things was presented before me in which the students were playing games of tennis and cricket. Then I was given instruction regarding the character of these amusements. They were presented to me as a species of idolatry, like the idols of the nations. There were more than visible spectators on the ground. Satan and his angels were there, making impressions on human minds. {CT 350.2}

Does the sports field encourage pride? Can it also increase depression? Yes. So, Satan is on the ground and he is influencing people either in the pride of life through sport or if they fail into depression through sport. The winning team joys at the victory over the losing team and they are all happy because they have capitalized on the failures of others. The losers go into their locker room all sad. They kick the floor and throw things around. They are really annoyed and depressed. One shows depression, the other shows pride. Both of them come from Satan.

Angels of God, who minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, were also present, not to approve, but to disapprove. They were ashamed that such an exhibition should be given by the professed children of God. The forces of the enemy gained a decided victory, and God was dishonored. {CT 350.2}

When we play sports, whether we win or lose, who is really winning? Satan is winning. In Christian schools, schools that profess to be educating the people for future life, they incorporate into the curriculum sport. Who is winning? Satan rubs his hands. People may say, “Look, it is good to play sport because it helps with the all rounded education of people. It helps people to have good sportsmanship.” Tell me, the people who play the sports are they better or worse than the people who don’t play. What is it like in a world league when someone loses? Are they good sportsmanship? Not at all. You would think that if playing sport gives the skill of good sportsmanship, do you think those who have done it the longest and are the most professional at it should be the best at taking a loss and not caring about who wins? Not so. I tell you those with the best sportsmanship skills are those who don’t play sport. They don’t get upset because they don’t loss or win.

The schools may think it is good for sportsmanship but it is definitely not. Some people may say, “Well, it is good to play sport because you get coordination.” I know people that are good in sport but they don’t know how to hold a shovel. They wouldn’t know how to use an axe to chop wood. Sports, while ever it can give you coordination on useless things in life, coordination can be gained in very practical things in the garden. Go and work outside. If you really want to learn to catch, play catch. That’s not competitive if you will just throw a ball to one another. That’s okay. Where is the competition in that if you will just learn to catch something? That is a valuable skill. But you don’t have to have competitive sport to learn this skill. The angels disapproved, they were ashamed of the professed children of God, the forces of the enemy gained the victory, and God was dishonored.

Hearing a voice, I turned to see who spoke to me. Then with dignity and solemnity One said, “Is this the celebration for the anniversary of the opening of the school? Is this the gratitude offering you present to God for the blessings He has given you? The world could render as acceptable an offering on this memorial occasion. The teachers are making the same mistake that has been made over and over again. They should learn wisdom from the experiences of the past. The careless, godless world can offer an abundance of such offerings as these, in a much more acceptable manner.” {CT 350.3}

Turning to the teachers, He said, “You have made a mistake the effects of which it will be hard to efface. The Lord God of Israel is not glorified in the school. If at this time the Lord should permit your life to end, many would be lost, eternally separated from God and the righteous.” {CT 351.1}

That’s the words spoken to the teacher. Teachers can lose their eternal salvation by allowing their students to engage in activities that act out the sentiments of the devil and make it very hard to efface later in life. We must do things without competition because when it comes even to the ministry and to the service of God, there is a continual comparing of ourselves with our selves. If you are so used to being in the sports team and comparing where your team is in regard to all the other teams on the ladder, when it comes to ministry it will be so natural to compare, “Wow, how is my preaching compared to someone else’s preaching?” “How do I conduct my ministry in comparison to other people’s ministry?” “How many members do we have compared to other people?” This element can come right into the religious life and it is so hard to efface to get rid of. What are we doing to our children? What are the children learning at school? Who is responsible? The teachers are. Who was responsible at the bottom of Mt. Sinai for that calf? Aaron was. He had to repent hard for his life to be spared; in deep repentance. Are we doing the same? Have we caused our children to engage in acting out the mind of Satan in competitive sports? If so, we need to do what Aaron did and repent from that wrong.

These things are a repetition of the course of Aaron, when at the foot of Sinai he allowed the first beginning of wrong by permitting a spirit of reveling and commonness to come into the camp of Israel. Moses was in the mount with God, and Aaron had been left in charge. He showed his weakness by not standing firmly against the propositions of the people. He could have exercised his authority to hold the congregation back from wrong-doing; but just as in his home he failed with his children, so he showed the same defective administration in his management of Israel. His weakness as a general was seen in his desire to please the people. {CT 351.2}

It is very unpopular to tell people, “Hey, you shouldn’t be playing sport.” Do you know the reaction you will get from people if you tell them that? But someone has got to say it. The ministers in God’s church have to say it. If they don’t say it, if they don’t present the dangers of competitive sports, if they want to please the congregation, then they are none other than dumb dogs that don’t bark.

Where did it start? Where did this golden calf experience start? It says that the first beginnings came by permitting a spirit of reveling and commonness. Just to play a game. We eat, we drink, and we rise up to play. That was the beginning of the golden calf experience. So it is when little children in primary school, in the very early age are taught to play sport, that is the beginning of their experience with trophies, the golden calf. As parents, teachers, ministers and people in responsible positions, the message must be heard clearly that if we involve our children or ourselves in competitive sport, we are not in the faith. If we are not in the faith, and if we don’t have Christ’s mind with us, then we are reprobates. The message is examine yourselves whether you are in the faith.

I could refer to chapter after chapter of the Old Testament Scriptures that contain great encouragement. These Scriptures are a treasure house of precious pearls, and all need them. How much time is spent by intelligent human beings in horse racing, cricket matches, and ball playing! But will indulgence in these sports give men a desire to know truth and righteousness? Will it keep God in their thoughts? Will it lead them to inquire, How is it with my soul? {CT 456.1}

After watching a football match, do you feel like just praising God and studying your Bible? Is that how you feel? Not at all. Will it lead to examination?

All the powers of Satan are set in operation to hold the attention to frivolous amusements, and he is gaining his object. {CT 456.2}

He has done a good job, hasn’t he? He holds the attention of thousands. Do you know what is the most watched event on the planet? Super bowl is the most watched event. It is a sport. It was through sport that the Jewish church was ruined by the Greeks. It is through sport that our own people are being ruined, have been ruined, and will be ruined by the same thing.

He is interposing his devisings between God and the soul. He will manufacture diversions to keep men from thinking about God. The world, filled with sport and pleasure loving, is always thirsting for some new interest; but how little time and thought are given to the Creator of the heavens and the earth! {CT 456.2}

What is the first angel’s message? Fear God, give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment has come and worship Him who created the heavens and the earth and the sea and the fountains of water. What detracts from the first angel’s message?

The world, filled with sport and pleasure loving, is always thirsting for some new interest; but how little time and thought are given to the Creator of the heavens and the earth! {CT 456.2}

I will ask you a question. Can you preach the three angels’ messages while you endorse sport in your schools, in your universities and in the churches generally? Can you do that? Not at all. We just need to examine ourselves and come to terms with the fact that if we are involved in sport, we are not preaching the three angels’ messages as much as we think we are, as much as we verbalize it. If sports are involved, we negate the fact that we are to worship God the Creator because Satan has employed sport and pleasure loving to take the mind away from the Creator and from worshipping Him to worshipping the achievements of people. This is a very serious message, very unpopular message but that is okay. Someone has got to say it.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Do sports do that? What do the children do and say if the parents were to say, “Look, you shouldn’t play sport?” Are these heathen people that do the things mentioned in these verses?

Do you have the mind of Christ? What is it saying? The verse says they will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. It is known in advent circles that young people don’t like Sabbath as much as Sunday. Do you know why? It is because on Sabbath, we have to go to church, and do the religious thing, we have to get up and put our good clothes on, sit down and listen to a boring sermon, (that’s what the kids think, anyway). We do this religious thing but then on Sunday, we can go and play our sports and enjoy the day. It is fun in the sun on Sunday.

For generations people have been lead to unconsciously have more respect for Sunday than for Sabbath because they love pleasure more than they love God. The edges of the Sabbath aren’t cared for because the clock is watched, so as soon as Sabbath is over we will be able to engage in what we want to do a habit. It is almost like waiting for the Sabbath to go. Such people are not Seventh Day Adventists. Such people are not Sabbath keepers. You just need to read Isaiah 58 to see what a Sabbath keeper is. Do you know what it says there?

Isaiah 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight.

Essentially, this text in Isaiah 58, the principle here is that God is saying, “Look, I have a day. You are not allowed to do your own pleasure but you have to be happy about it.” Can you do that? Can you be happy when you are not doing your own pleasure? This will become evident by how you relate to sport from this day on. Can you be happy if you never engage in sports ever again in your whole life? Will you be happy? Most people wouldn’t be it would feel like their legs have been chopped off or some major privileges has been taken away from them but that proves that that is idolatry. If you are upset in this, it is an idol in your heart.

That’s the hard fact about it. If it weren’t an idol in your heart, you wouldn’t mind. You would say, “Okay, sure.” There can be a little bit of a battle but you will be happy to do God’s will. That’s if you have the mind of Christ. What is our subject? Examine whether you are in the faith? The Sabbath, is a sign for those who cannot do their own pleasure and be happy about it. If you cannot do your own pleasure and really rejoice in the Sabbath, then my friends you are on your way to being sealed with the seal of the living God.

Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Do you delight yourself in God? Do you find Him your joy? Are you a fan of God? If you are a fan of God then you will be the most enthusiastic about spending time with Him. You will be thrilled to have time with God. Think about it. Who is your favorite fan on this earth? It may be some football player, some actor, or some famous person. What if you got to spend time with them; just you and them? Will you be enthused about that? What about God? Who is your fan? Are you fanatic for God? I hope so because if we are not fanatics for God, if we are not God’s fans then we will be fanatics in this world. We have to be a fan of something. No man can serve two masters. If you are a fan of the world, you cannot be a fan of God.

Just to conclude, I would like mention that judgment starts at the house of God. Are you a person who is going to lift up your voice in regards to this issue? Are you just going to sit there and say, “Yes, I believe it but I’m not going to say anything to anyone.” This issue needs to be proclaimed. We need to sigh and cry for the abominations that are done in the land because if the righteous is scarcely saved, where will the sinner and the ungodly person appear? This is a big issue. Satan has employed this tactic and many people are not aware of it. They are aware of the Catholic Church, they are aware of other churches that have deceptive doctrines, and other people that twist the truth but there is nothing more deceptive that the employment of sports and everything that goes with it: the music that goes with sports, the cheerleaders, and the sensuality, it is all there. It is all in that package.

Ezekiel 9:3-6 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

Are you sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land? You may ask what are the abominations? Then you may recall. If you don’t recall, please read Revelation 18. It tells that Babylon is falling and its fall has become a cage of every foul and unclean spirit, full of abominations. Then it says wherefore, come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord. If we want to sigh and cry for the abominations that are done in the land, we need to know what they are so we can sigh and cry over them. We need a new heart to be able to do that. Revelation 18 has been largely taken from Isaiah 47.

Isaiah 47:7-8 And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it. Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:

What’s the mentality behind Babylon? It is given to pleasure and careless. Are we careless to what God says in His testimonies? Do we just brush them off saying, “Yes, it was back then and not today?” Are we careless? If we are careless and we are given to pleasure, be it known my friends that we are in Babylon. The message is; Come out from among them, be separate. Her sins have reached unto heaven. God has remembered her iniquities. Come out that you will not be partakers of her plagues.

I would like to conclude with one statement now. Are you in the faith? Think about it? How do you relate with this message?

The humility that bears fruit, filling the soul with a sense of the love of God, will speak for the one who has cherished it, in the great day when men will be rewarded according as their works have been. Happy will be the one of whom it can then be said, “The Spirit never stirred this man’s soul in vain. He went forward and upward from strength to strength. Self was not woven into his life. Each message of correction and counsel he received as a blessing from God. {RH March 10, 1904, par. 25}

How do you cope with correction, with reproof, with messages that upset the natural heart? That says that those who engage in sport are denying Christ and their Christian profession. Does that hurt? Well, if you are stirred by God’s spirit and it is not stirring in vain then you can really be happy because you can count that each message of correction and counsel can be received as a blessing from God. He says as many as I love, I chasten.

Thus the way was prepared for him to receive still greater blessings, because God did not speak to him in vain. {RH March 10, 1904, par. 25}

Will this message be in vain to you? Will God speak to you in vain today? If it won’t be received in vain, then God has more to share with you, more light to give to you, if you will not take this in vain.

Each step upward on the ladder of progress prepared him to climb still higher. From the top of the ladder, the bright beams of God’s glory shone upon him. He did not think of resting, but sought constantly to attain to the wisdom and righteousness of Christ. Ever he pressed toward the mark of the prize of his high calling in Christ.” {RH March 10, 1904, par. 25}

This experience every one who is saved must have. In the Day of Judgment the course of the man who has retained the frailty and imperfection of humanity will not be vindicated. For him there will be no place in heaven; he could not enjoy the perfection of the saints in light. He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that he can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God. {RH March 10, 1904, par. 26}

If you can receive the rebukes and the sharpness of God’s Words, and take it as a blessing. If this is your experience, then you can truly be happy.

How is your faith? Do you believe Christ can keep you from sinning? That includes holding back from engaging in sport that you may have once loved. If you have had a real zeal for sport and you have been a real fan for sport, transfer that enthusiasm to Christ. If you transfer that enthusiasm into Christ then you can run, not as the only one that is going to win but you will receive the reward when Christ comes. I pray that we can examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith, and if we are not, we can become faithful followers of Jesus by repentance and confession and appreciation of His love to show us these things.

Amen.

Posted on July 1, 2012, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons For Sabbath. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. this has been a continual burden of mine,to make my brothers and sisters see that sports is a species of idolatry,idol worship

  2. Bongani Ndwandwe

    Thank you for this revelation. We really have these sports enthroned in our hearts, we can postpone our Bible studies to watch the game if it coincide with the time to study. Very sad indeed, I had thought about this before though I had no biblical verses to use. It is funny to see an old man crying in public because his team of favourite athlete lost. They do not cry when they skip to go to church or when they missed their Bible study

  3. Bongani Ndwandwe

    Thank you for this revelation. We really have these sports enthroned in our hearts, we can postpone our Bible studies to watch the game if it coincide with the time to study. Very sad indeed, I had thought about this before though I had no biblical verses to use. It is funny to see an old man crying in public because his team of favourite athlete lost. They do not cry when they skip to go to church or when they missed they Bible study

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