Cheaters Never Win – Pastor Stacey Shiflett

Cheaters Never Win

Calvary Baptist School chapel message

2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

Intro: Some of the greatest athletes in the world have been disqualified for cheating.

               ILLUSTRATION: Peter played baseball and football in High School. Although Peter was small for his age, he earned the starting running back position on his freshman football team. When he was not promoted to the varsity football team in his sophomore year, Peter was discouraged and soon lost interest in his studies. At the end of the school year, Peter’s teachers decided he would have to attend summer school or be held back. His father decided it would be better for Peter to repeat a year of school than miss a summer playing baseball. It would also give Peter an extra year to mature physically.

               When Peter reached his senior year, he had used up his four years of sports eligibility. In the spring of 1960, he joined Amateur League. He played catcher, second base and shortstop and compiled a .626 batting average. This would have been the pinnacle of Peter’s baseball career if not for the help of his uncle Buddy Bloebaum. Bloebaum was a “Bird dog” scout for the Reds and he pleaded the case for his nephew. The Reds, who had recently traded away a number of prospects who turned out to be very good, decided to take a chance on Pete. Upon his graduation from high school, Peter signed a professional contract.

               Peter played in Major League Baseball from 1963 to 1986, most prominently as a member of the Cincinnati Reds team known as The Big Red Machine for their dominance of the National League in the 1970s. He also played for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Montreal Expos. During and after his playing career, he served as the manager of the Reds from 1984 to 1989.

               Peter was a switch hitter and is the all-time MLB leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328).1 He won three World Series, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, and the Rookie of the Year Award. Peter made 17 All-Star appearances at an unequaled five positions (second baseman, left fielder, right fielder, third baseman, and first baseman). Peter won both of his Gold Gloves when he was an outfielder, in 1969 and 1970.

               In August 1989 (his last year as a manager and three years after retiring as a player), Peter was penalized with permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while he played for and managed the Reds; the charges of wrongdoing included claims that he bet on his own team. In 1991, the Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban those on the “permanently ineligible” list from induction, after previously excluding such players by informal agreement among voters. Pete Rose was one of the greatest baseball players ever – but he was a cheater.

               ILLUSTRATION: At the age of 12, Eddie started his sporting career as a swimmer at the City of Plano Swim Club and finished fourth in Texas state 1,500-meter freestyle. He stopped swimming-only races after seeing a poster for a junior triathlon, called the Iron Kids Triathlon, which he won at age 13. In the 1987–1988 Eddie was ranked the number-one triathlete in the 19-and-under group. Eddie’s total points in 1987 as an amateur were better than those of five professionals ranked higher than he was that year. At 16, Lance Eddie became a professional triathlete and became national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990 at the age of 18 and 19.

               Eddie became the subject of doping allegations after he won the 1999 Tour de France. For years, he denied involvement in doping. In 2012, a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation concluded that Eddie had used performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career and named him as the ringleader of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”. He received a lifetime ban from all sports that follow the World Anti-Doping Code, ending his competitive cycling career. In January 2013, Eddie publicly admitted his involvement in doping. In April 2018, Eddie settled a civil lawsuit with the United States Department of Justice and agreed to pay US$5 million to the U.S. government. Eddie was stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005. Lance Edward Armstrong was one of the greatest athletes of our time, but he was a cheater.

I. The Purpose for Rules

The rules are in place so things can be right.

The rules are in place so things can be fair.

The rules are in place so we can know God’s heart and thoughts.

Rules tells us a lot about God.

He even wrote some of them in the heart of man. (Romans 1:19)

Without rules we have chaos and confusion.

God is a God of order.

II. The Problem with Rules

You can’t do it your way.

  • Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Your rules do not count.

Your rules will not work.

  • Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Man’s tendency is to cheat.

Man’s tendency is to break the rules.

Man’s tendency is to change the rules to suit him.

They don’t like to be told they are wrong.

They don’t like to be told how to do it.

They naturally push against rules.

The unsaved are called “the children of disobedience.”

  • Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

You can’t get into Heaven except by the door.

  • John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
  • John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

III. The Protection of Rules

The good thing about rules is once you know them, you can win.

  • 2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

Another good thing about rules is this: If you can’t change them, neither can the one that made the rules.

God’s rules do not change because God doesn’t change.

  • Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not;
  • Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

You can’t change them, but neither will He.

  • Psalms 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

You can’t be a winner if you don’t know the rules.

You can’t be a winner if you change the rules.

You can’t be a winner if you break the rules.

  • Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
  • Colossians 3:6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

God makes the rules.

God is the final judge (umpire, referee, etc.)

What He says, goes.

You won’t change His mind.

But He has promised to bless you if you obey the rules.

If you follow His way, you can be a winner.

  • Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.