By Pastor Hal Mayer
Warm Christian Greetings from Keep the Faith Ministry! It is wonderful to have you as one of our listeners. We are here to encourage you to follow Jesus all the way, and it is our prayer that your life will be blessed and your faith strengthened by today’s message.
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This month I have a serious message to bear to God’s people. I believe that since we are near the time of the return of Jesus in the clouds of glory, it is important to consider the focus of our attention. We want the mind of Christ and it is vitally important that we do nothing that will take our minds away from that objective. Satan has a banquet prepared for every soul. He “invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. The archdeceiver hates the great truths that bring to view an atoning sacrifice and an all-powerful mediator. He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth.” That’s from Great Controversy, page 488.
There is something that is taking the world by storm and has crept into the lives of God’s people. It is not new, but it is not seen as an enemy. Instead it is seen almost as a friend. In reality it is leading millions to eternal destruction because of its subtle and perverse nature. In direct conflict with the law of God and the principles of heaven this plague has become the center of attention for many young people as well as their parents. Pastors and leaders are caught up in it. And even some who have a strong interest in the special truth for this time seem to be mesmerized by its power.
This special message opens a series of sermons on the mind of Christ. It is designed to encourage all of us to come closer to Jesus in all things. What we do with our time and talents will reveal the kind of relationship we have with Christ. If we have a truly close walk with Jesus, we will avoid those things that are displeasing to Him. If we are only half-hearted in our walk with Christ, we will find ourselves caught up in a web of entanglements that change the way we think, change our perspective and change our principles and character; sometimes so subtly that we don’t realize it. Even when we sense that its octopus-like tentacles have wrapped their addicting suckers around our minds and hearts, we don’t seem to sense or feel the danger. After all, this temptation or indulgence is so much “better” than others.
But before we begin, let us bow our heads in prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, Jesus is coming soon. We are so thankful! But Lord we are not ready. We are involved in things that do not make us ready for the coming crisis and which do not create in us the mind of Christ. Help us Father to see where we have departed from Your path. May we understand the way to receive the spotless purity of Christ’s robe of righteousness to wear. May Jesus reign within our hearts. May we walk with Him today and everyday. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
To begin, I would like to ask you to turn with me in your Bibles if you can, to the epistle of Paul to the Philippians. We will read in Chapter two and verse five. God’s holy word says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” So Paul is going to tell us what it means to have the mind of Christ. He is going to explain to us what it actually means to think in the same way as Jesus does. Do you think that you can go to heaven and be happy if you don’t think like Jesus? I don’t. Those who don’t learn to think as Christ thinks now, are going to find it very difficult to think as he thinks then and as a result will be miserable in heaven. They won’t find a television there, so I suspect that those who are addicted to television will be miserable there. There won’t be any theaters, so those who call themselves Christians on this earth and go to church in the morning and to the theater in the evening will be rather unhappy there too. And by the way, you don’t need to go to a place of business that is called a theater to be in a theater. Did you know that you can now buy a theater for your home? It is called a home theater. Yes, you can go to church in the morning and go to the theater in the evening.
Heaven is a place of happiness and anyone who won’t be happy there, won’t be there. This will be their choice, not because of God’s vengeance. God’s vengeance is directed at sin. His mercy is directed to the sinner. But if the sinner won’t give up his sin, then he will be caught up in God’s vengeance against his sin. Millions are choosing now to be so immersed in worldly thinking and acting that they are not developing the mind of Christ. Therefore they cannot be preparing for heaven. They are preparing for someplace else. And I am referring to those who call themselves Christians. They are deceived into thinking that they can play with the world now, and play in heaven later. It won’t happen my friends. But the deadly poison that I am referring to is a slow acting poison. It works on your brain and your heart in such a way as to keep you from realizing your danger.
Now let us read verse six. Remember that we are to have the mind of Christ. Here is the definition of the mind of Christ. “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.”
Please notice that in order to have the mind of Christ; you have to be prepared to die on the cross. You have to be prepared to give up anything and everything that may be dear to you so that you can have the mind of Jesus. It may mean that you have to give up your cherished little indulgences that come between you and Jesus. You may have to deal straightly with yourself and cut off those things that continue to lead you into selfishness and sin. For only those who have the mind of Christ, who utterly humble themselves and are willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake will actually be able to have the mind of Christ and be with Him in the Earth made new.
Most preachers don’t talk about what it really means to have the mind of Christ these days. You hear these familiar verses, but you don’t hear what it will actually cost you to get it. If you want the mind of Christ, you are going to have to let go of anything that is in conflict with Him. It will cost you everything in the end. You cannot have one vestige of pride or arrogance. You cannot have a small self-indulgence else you will be unable to have the purity and maturity of the mind of Jesus. Remember that in Heaven are only those who have the mind of Christ.
Now let me tell you a story. It is about Avondale School in Australia. I’m going to read to you the personal testimony of the man in charge of the school about what happened, and then I’m going to share with you some counsel from God’s messenger for the last days. His name was C. B. Hughes. He said;
“As we drew near the anniversary of the erection of our main building at the Avondale School, I suggested to the faculty that we observe the day by making it a holiday. To this the faculty assented, and asked me my suggestions concerning the day’s program. I suggested that we ask Sister White to deliver an address in the early part of the day, and that the remainder of the day be spent in games. To this the faculty assented, no one making any objection…
“I had used my influence against the playing of football at the school, but sometime before this holiday, cricket had been introduced by one of the teachers. Against this, I had offered no objection. While I thought it wrong to spend much time playing games, I thought it proper to spend some time this way. I knew that the Testimonies condemned football, but had not studied them carefully enough to know that they condemned other games also.
“As the girls could not play cricket, it was thought best to purchase an outfit for playing tennis on the holiday. I joined the teachers and students in contributing toward its purchase. As Sister White drove up in her carriage to deliver her address, we were marking out the grounds for tennis just in front of the main building.
“Sister White delivered a very earnest address to us, and “we rose up to play.” The students engaged very heartily in playing tennis, cricket and other games. Mrs. Hughes and I took a drive, and while we were away they had a sack race and some other things, I think, of like nature. When I returned, I played cricket with the young men.
“The students enjoyed the day very much, and at the close of it felt very grateful toward me, especially, for planning such a pleasant time…
“Naturally I felt quite a little satisfaction in knowing that I had succeeded in pleasing the students so well, so I was feeling very light-hearted next morning, and was just on the point of leaving my house for the school, when Sister White’s carriage drove up, and I was informed that she wished to speak to me. I went out to her carriage and she leaned out toward me and said in very earnest tones, ‘I have come over to talk to you and your teachers and your students about the way you spent yesterday. Get your teachers together. I want to speak to them before I go in to speak to the students.’
“If Sister White had struck a blow full in my face, I do not think I would have felt so hurt as I did at her words. What she said sounded so unreasonable to me. I believed that what we had done the day before was for the best interests of the students. She talked to me as an old woman who had no sympathy with the needs of the youth.”
“To say that I was very indignant hardly expresses the feeling I had, but I had a great deal of respect for Sister White, so, notwithstanding the grievous mistake I thought she was making, I replied not a word. I went immediately to notify the teachers that Sister White wished to see them in my office before we went in for chapel exercises. I told not one of them what she wanted with us. I dared not speak for fear I would say too much. When she met the teachers, I think they were about as much surprised as I, and some of them at least, fully as indignant, for when she told them what she intended to say, one of them remarked that if she knew so much about running a school, she would advise her to come over and take charge. Another one of the teachers objected to this statement.
“I was very much troubled, knowing as I did the attitude of the Australians toward holidays and games. I felt that Sister White was acting rashly. I very much feared that it would result in some of the students leaving us, but under the circumstances I thought best to say nothing, although I was very much tempted to advise her not to talk to the students that morning.
“We went into the chapel and she delivered her talk, but it did not produce the commotion that I had expected. In fact, the students generally seemed to receive it quite well, but not so with myself. It was the beginning of one of the darkest experiences of my life. I felt that Sister White was unreasonably extreme in the matter, and that she contradicted herself, for my mind at once reverted to some statements of hers, that teachers should play with their students, but I kept all these thoughts to myself. I did not even tell my wife what a struggle I was having… Instead…I gave the matter much earnest study… I took the Bible and concordance to see what I could find.
“One of the first passages I found was the experience of the children of Israel, when they “sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” This was not very helpful to my cause, so I passed on. Among other passages, I found the one in Corinthians, “Know ye not that they which run in a race, run all, but one receiveth the prize,” As I considered this passage, I received an entirely new thought in regard to the nature of games. This taught me that the triumph experienced in winning a race can come only to one, and is always the result of defeating one or more. In fact, I believe it to be true in games, that we enjoy the failure of our fellow as much, or more, than we do our own success. Another passage occurred to my mind which says: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be lifeted up when he stumbleth.” This is directly opposed to that spirit which leads people to so boisterously rejoice when one of the opposing force stumbles or falls, thus losing a point in the game. I saw clearly that the spirit of games is the spirit of war. While one mourns over his loss, the other rejoices because of that loss. Our fellow’s defeat is our triumph. Not so in the heavenly race. In that race every one may so run that he may obtain the prize. In the ‘good fight of faith,’ every one may lay hold on eternal life. Instead of provoking our brother to fail, thus incurring enmity, we ‘provoke unto love and good works.’ ‘And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; The spirit of games and sports is the spirit of the ‘accuser of our brethren.’ It is anti-Christian. These thoughts brought me out of darkness into light, and I left behind me an experience which was a very trying one.”
Incidentally, the students accepted the message that Sister White gave them. The tennis set was sold and the proceeds were put into the Missionary Society. The cricket game ceased too. For a time, Avondale School was a model school of the principles of heaven’s education.
As you can see, there are some things that are hard to understand when the Lord addresses the areas in our lives that are contrary to His will. We often think about smoking, drinking, carousing and other forms of sin that are obvious and perhaps offensive to most, or at least many Christians. But as our experience with Jesus matures, He reveals things to us that we didn’t realize are in conflict with His will.
The Bible tells us that participation in competitive sports develops in us a spirit that is completely contrary to the mind of Christ. Sports heroes are praised. They become idols. Sport is a means of disconnecting the soul from Christ by developing in us the spirit of Satan. For example, in any competitive game you must attempt to take advantage of another’s weakness in order to score the point or win the game. Volleyball is an obvious example! You set the ball up to slam it down on the other side of the net someplace where it cannot be returned, thereby exploiting the weakest point of the other team. Tennis is the same. You send the ball in one corner, then into the other. Then perhaps up close to the net, and then back all the way to the rear of the court. In this way you make it difficult for your opponent to return the ball. Eventually, you hope to exploit his weakness or put him into a place where he cannot return your masterful stroke.
What have you just done? You have cultivated a spirit that is the opposite of the mind of Christ. Even those who can’t play the game, get just the same spirit. They will sit for hours in front of the TV watching basketball or football or some other game. Their enthusiasm as they root for one team or the other and the shouting that goes on in living rooms, bars, and other places all over the world is incredible!
Why do people waste so much time and energy on something like a leather ball? They get all worked up. They become argumentative about the players and the plays. They are fans; that is, fanatics for sport. Our whole world is caught up in sports, but unfortunately, so are many, many of God’s people. It is as if we don’t see the difference between the sacred and the profane. It starts in Christian elementary or primary school.
Let me read to you what the scripture says about it. We are still in Philippians chapter two. Listen to verse three. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other[s] better than themselves.” How can you play a competitive game and esteem the other team or your opponent as better than you, when you are trying desperately to be better than they? It doesn’t make any sense!
Verse four says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” In other words, we are not to be worried about our own advantages. If possible, we are to make sure that our neighbors and even our enemies or opponents have the same advantages as we do. God’s plan is cooperation, not competition. When we cooperate, we help others to succeed, not help them to be defeated. How can you play a game such as basketball, football or soccer and fulfill this clear principle of scripture. You cannot have the mind of Christ if you are either playing or watching such a game. The Bible condemns competitive sports. There is no place for it. Listen to what God’s messenger said about the tennis and cricket matches in the Avondale School. This is from Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, pages 348-351. Though it is lengthy, it is significant. Listen carefully.
“In April, 1900, a holiday was appointed at the Avondale School for Christian workers. The program for the day provided for a meeting in the chapel in the morning, at which I and others addressed the students, calling their attention to what God had wrought in the building up of this school, and to their privilege and opportunities as students.
“After the meeting, the remainder of the day was spent by the students in various games and sports, some of which were frivolous, rude, and grotesque.
“During the following night I seemed to be witnessing the performances of the afternoon. The scene was clearly laid out before me, and I was given a message for the manager and teachers of the school.
“I was shown that in the amusements carried on at the school that afternoon the enemy gained a victory, and teachers were weighed in the balances and found wanting. I was greatly distressed and burdened to think that those standing in responsible positions should open the door and, as it were, invite the enemy in; for this they did in permitting the exhibitions that took place. As teachers, they should have stood firm against giving place to the enemy in any such line. By what they permitted they marred their record and grieved the Spirit of God. The students were encouraged in a course the effects of which were not easily effaced. There is no end to the path of vain amusements, and every step taken in it is a step in a path which Christ has not traveled.
“This introduction of wrong plans was the very thing that should have been jealously guarded against. The Avondale School was established, not to be like the schools of the world, but, as God revealed, to be a pattern school. And since it was to be a pattern school, those in charge of it should have perfected everything after God’s plan, discarding all that was not in harmony with His will. Had their eyes been anointed with the heavenly eyesalve, they would have realized that they could not permit the exhibition that took place that afternoon, without dishonoring God.
“On Wednesday morning when I spoke to the students and to the others who had assembled, the words that the Lord gave me to speak, I did not know anything of what was to take place afterward; for no intimation of it had come to me. How could those at the head of the school harmonize with the words spoken the proceedings that followed, which were of a character to make of no effect the instruction that had just come to them from God? If their perceptions had not been greatly beclouded, they would have understood this instruction as rebuking all such proceedings.
“I felt deeply the importance of the words that the Lord gave me at this time for teachers and students. This instruction presented before the students duties of the highest order; and to efface by the amusements afterward entered into, the good impressions made, was virtually saying, “We want not Thy way, O God; we want our own way; we want to follow our own wisdom.”
“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. 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. 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. He who gave His life to refine, ennoble, and sanctify human beings was grieved at the performance.
“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.”
“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.”
This sobering statement leads us back to Philippians Chapter two verse three. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind esteem other[s] better than themselves.” Competitive games are strife and war, organized with their respective rules of war. Vainglory is pride and self-glory. Victors in a competitive contest are usually proud of themselves. They receive the trophy (if there is a trophy) with shouting and grandstanding. There is a lot of back slapping and celebration. But the defeated go to their locker rooms with dejection. Why all the celebration? It is because they are the victors. They are happy that they were able to overcome their opponent by exploiting his weaknesses, or by sheer strength of force they crushed him, or they outmaneuvered his every attempt at them. All these are elements of evil. They are in complete contrast to the love and humility of Jesus. All these are in conflict with the grace and power of a life only lived to bless others.
Recently we read in the news about a new “home run king,” a man by the name of Bond. He has more baseball home runs than the famous Hank Aaron. So what? What kind of eternal weight of glory or value does this man’s glory have in holding the world record of home runs? What difference does that make in eternity? Will we allow this kind of small momentary glory to steal our crown and eternal weight of glory?
I’m going to continue reading from Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, pages 351-352.
“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… And as a result the spirit of idolatry came in, and the current set in motion could not be stayed until stern and decisive measures had been taken.” Today’s sports are merely a modern golden calf. If pastors, school administrators and other Christian leaders let it go on unchecked or un-rebuked, they will be guilty of the same sin as Aaron at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
I’ll continue reading about the Avondale experience. “What an exhibition was this to be reported by the students to their distant friends and acquaintances! It was a witness that showed, not what God has accomplished in the school, but what Satan had accomplished… Once the barriers are broken down, the advance of the enemy will be marked, unless the Lord shall humble hearts and convert minds.” And how true that is today, for that school is about as worldly as any “Christian” school can be.
How many bases do we have to steal in baseball before we realize that we are breaking the law of God that says, “Thou shalt not steal?” How many times will we pretend to hand the ball to one player, and then pass the ball to another, before we realize that all of this is deceiving the other team and is breaking God’s Ten Commandments which say, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” It’s true! Many of the most popular competitive sports teach you to break God’s holy law by deceiving your opponent. Basketball, football, even baseball and other sports, all have strong elements of bearing false witness. And what about the brutality of games like ice hockey or boxing or wrestling. Do they foster the humble spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus?
How much time will we spend in idolatrous watching of games on the television when the Ten Commandments say, “thou shalt have no other God’s before me.” How often will we go to church with anything but God on our minds and go through the motions of being publically spiritual while privately we bow down to the god’s of electronic transmission of the games? When will we learn my friends? When will we realize that God is displeased with His people when they participate in things that prevent them from truly worshipping Jesus Christ?
I have never read in the Bible of any time when Jesus went to the gymnasium and played competitive sports games, have you? But you say they didn’t have those things in Jesus’ day. Ah, but they did. Before the Romans ruled the world, the Greeks had conquered the nations. Judea was under the control, mostly, of the Ptolemy dynasty in Alexandria Egypt. These were Greeks who attempted to make their culture the ruling force in the minds and hearts of the people. Once the military conquest was completed, they turned their attention to creating one vast kingdom of Greek culture.
The Greeks were masters of sports and games. They invented the Olympics. They then exported them to other nations, and the wide world of sports began. Judea was one of the countries that were greatly affected by the Greeks. Satan would have especially wanted to affect the Jews because they were God’s church. They were supposed to be different from the other nations. They were to worship and reverence the true God and obey His law. Satan knew that if he could popularize the Greek games in Judea and other aspects of Greek culture, he could cause the Jews to lose their hold on God and His distinctive truth and eventually they would reject the Messiah.
The games became very popular in Judea. Greek sports masters were hired to come from Alexandria and teach the people, especially the youth, how to play the games. One of the high priests, named Jason built a gymnasium in the center of the city right near the temple. The priests – the ministers of the God of heaven – participated in the games. They became such sports fanatics that they neglected their temple duties just so they could participate in the games. This was all before the time of Christ.
When Christ was on earth, sports games were all the rage. But Jesus never went near them. Neither did John the Baptist. They knew that if they got involved in those things, they would not be suited to their mission. They also knew that God was not in them. Human glory was in them, not God’s glory. The reason Jesus did not go there was because He could not influence them with the mind of God. Today we think it is a good thing when one of our church youth is honored because of some sports achievement. How can we do this? This does not encourage them in godliness. For more on this study please order our Keep the Faith sermon entitled, “How the Greeks Destroyed the Jewish Church.
There are who say that they use sports to influence others for God. For example, inter-church games are supported by the idea that through them we can show our Christian grace by demonstrating how to win or lose gracefully. Intramural sports at schools are justified on the basis that they are important to a well-rounded education because they teach the children how to have good sportsmanship. Usually this means learning how to lose gracefully. “We pray before we play”, we hear as an excuse for sports. Why bother? While teaching our children how to lose gracefully, we are also teaching them all the other satanic principles imbedded in the games themselves – like teaching the children how to take advantage of someone else’s weakness for their own benefit. Nothing is more calculated than sports to train our children how not to have the mind of Christ.
Competitive sports are one of the sins of our age. They devastate the principles of the kingdom of heaven in our hearts. They have become the idol to us like the idols of the nations. How the angels must weep when they see God’s people becoming more and more involved in sports. Shame is written all over us. We are suffering from the lukewarmness of Laodicea and have become indifferent to the signs of the times and the spiritual issues of God’s last day people. We have become spiritually inert. We have no power to resist temptation because we see no danger in indulging in the entertainments and amusements of the world which Satan has served up at his banquet of distractions. We think we are eating solid food, when we are only eating the husks fed to the pigs. When are we going to realize that our eternal destiny is at stake?
When we have true love for others, we have no desire to be champions over them. We have no penchant for dominating them in some sort of game. We are playing the game of life my brothers and sisters. We have no business incorporating the world into and among God’s people. Yet sport is pervasive in Christian schools, academies, colleges and universities as if it is the best thing since sliced bread. We think that by offering a sports program we will attract students to our schools. Therefore, when enrollments are down, we beef up the sports programs. More students come for a while, but what other elements come with it. Often there are drugs, alcohol, tobacco, immorality and other ungodly lifestyle principles also involved.
Today’s sports heroes are openly touting alternative lifestyles, in particular, the hip hop mentality and behavior. These are anything but the mind of Christ. They have nothing to do with Christ. They are filthy and defile the soul. Why should we honor and praise these kinds of role models? Why should we copy them or their games in our schools? We think that we can play the game without all that junky lifestyle. We can Christianize the sport and make it acceptable. But this is just Satan’s deception. You cannot make something that is worldly into a Christian thing by bringing it into the church, polishing it up a little and praying over it. To associate God’s name and reputation with such worldliness is actually blasphemy. It is mixing good and evil like Satan did in the Garden of Eden which brought terrible sorrow and woe to the human race. Yet many ministers and pastors think this is ok because it keeps the youth coming to church or to our schools. How misguided can one become?
When we bring Satan’s principles into God’s institutions whether they be schools, churches, hospitals or other organizations, we show our distaste of things Godly and reveal our unlikeness to Christ and jeopardize our eternal salvation. How can this be my dear friends? How far down have we come in moral worth? Are we ever going to rise above the scum of the world in our lifestyle and recreation? Our personal lives need cleaning up before we can clean up God’s institutions. We ourselves have to let go of the addiction of sports and games. We cannot sit in front of the TV on Sunday afternoons and watch three to six hours of football or basketball games and expect to have the grace of Christ come into our lives in its fullness and maturity. There just simply is no way. We cannot expect to have the blessing of God if on God’s holy Sabbath we set the timer on our video recorder so that we can record the game and watch it later. It is time we remove this trash from our lives.
I know that this is not conventional wisdom. But God didn’t ask us to use conventional wisdom in making decisions. He asks us to use the wisdom of the Bible, and the Bible is abundantly clear. We must have spiritual discernment otherwise we will be very unclear and have great difficulty seeing such things for what they are.
When Ezekiel was in vision, he saw the sealing of God’s people and the slaughter of the unrighteous among them. Listen to his words in Chapter nine verses four through six. “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 my 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.”
My friends, Ezekiel was seeing God’s church represented by the city of Jerusalem. Only those who sigh and cry for the abominations done in the church will escape the coming judgments of God. They are not involved in sports, drama, rock music and other cheap thrills. They are weeping between the porch and the altar. They are burdened by the sin and the indifference of God’s people.
Notice the slayers started with the ancient men. These are the leaders of God’s church. It turns out that it is often church leaders who are the most culpable in keeping the people enthralled with the fanaticism of sports. How can that be? Of course some of them are into it themselves, giving a very poor example unto the flock of God. But the larger culpability is in the conspiracy of silence. They simply do not speak up against this evil in their schools, church gymnasiums and on the “Christian” ball field. They are dumb dogs that will not bark. They have muted their voices at the very moment of crisis. They are neutral when they should be decidedly on the Lord’s side.
Here is some more counsel from the servant of the Lord. Again it is from Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, pages 274-275.
“The public feeling is that manual labor is degrading, yet men may exert themselves as much as they choose at cricket, baseball, or in pugilistic contests, without being regarded as degraded. Satan is delighted when he sees human beings using their physical and mental powers in that which does not educate, which is not useful, which does not help them to be a blessing to those who need their help. While the youth are becoming expert in games that are of no real value to themselves or to others, Satan is playing the game of life for their souls, taking from them the talents that God has given them, and placing in their stead his own evil attributes. It is his effort to lead men to ignore God. He seeks to engross and absorb the mind so completely that God will find no place in the thoughts. He does not wish people to have a knowledge of their Maker, and he is well pleased if he can set in operation games and theatrical performances that will so confuse the senses of the youth that God and heaven will be forgotten.”
This serious statement makes it very clear that it is impossible to have the mind of Christ if we are playing sports. And from the book Education we read this on page 210; “Some of the most popular amusements, such as football and boxing, have become schools of brutality. They are developing the same characteristics as did the games of ancient Rome. The love of domination, the pride in mere brute force, the reckless disregard of life, are exerting upon the youth a power to demoralize that is appalling.
“Other athletic games, though not so brutalizing, are scarcely less objectionable because of the excess to which they are carried. They stimulate the love of pleasure and excitement, thus fostering a distaste for useful labor, a disposition to shun practical duties and responsibilities. They tend to destroy a relish for life’s sober realities and its tranquil enjoyments. Thus the door is opened to dissipation and lawlessness, with their terrible results.”
How many people have lifelong unnecessary injuries from games they played when they were young? How many have compromised their usefulness in God’s cause by those injuries to the temple of the Holy Spirit? How many have been unable to fulfill God’s mission in their lives because they have not cultivated the mind of Christ, but instead have wasted time, money and energy developing the mind of Satan through the games?
In speaking to Battle Creek College the servant of the Lord says in Fundamentals of Education, page 225; “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Yes, he is on your playground watching your amusements, catching every soul that he finds off his guard, sowing his seeds in human minds, and controlling the human intellect.
“For Christ’s sake call a halt at the Battle Creek College, and consider the after-workings upon the heart and the character and principles of these amusements copied after the fashion of other schools. You have been steadily progressing in the ways of the Gentiles, and not after the example of Jesus Christ. Satan is on the school ground… The students that have had their minds deeply excited in their games are not in the best condition to receive the instruction, the counsel, the reproof, most essential for them in this life and for the future immortal life.”
Why should Satan be able through the excitement of the games and sports reap a harvest in the heart, character and principles afterwards which reduce enthusiasm for the word of God and for productive usefulness in this life and the life to come? How can we, after the game, go out and try to find a soul and tell him of his need of Christ?
When we play competitive sports we actually invite Satan to come onto the grounds to influence us. After the excitement of the game, how easy is it to have a Bible study? After the excitement of the game, how can we refresh our minds with God’s word? Do we not think of the mistakes we made; or how we overcame the opposing team? Do we not have pride of our accomplishments? My friends, how can we say that we are true Christians when we revere the most valuable players and champions of games? Some worship at the shrine of sport as though it was their god. They talk all the time about the game. It seems that nothing else really matters to them.
And here is another statement from Messages to Young People, page 340. “Satan has been multiplying his snares in Battle Creek; and professed Christians who are superficial in character and religious experience are used by the tempter as his decoys. This class are always ready for the gatherings for pleasure or sport, and their influence attracts others. Young men and young women who have tried to be Bible Christians are persuaded to join the party, and they are drawn into the ring. They did not prayerfully consult the divine standard to learn what Christ had said in regard to the fruit to be borne on the Christian tree. They do not discern that these entertainments are really Satan’s banquet, prepared to keep souls from accepting the call to the marriage supper of the Lamb: they prevent them from receiving the white robe of character, which is the righteousness of Christ. They become confused as to what it is right for them as Christians to do. They do not want to be thought singular, and naturally incline to follow the example of others. Thus they come under the influence of those who have never had the divine touch on heart or mind.”
How sad. How easy it is for Satan to spread a banquet for our hearts and minds so that we become confused about the difference between sacred and the profane?
“I entreat the students in our schools to be sober-minded. The frivolity of the young is not pleasing to God. Their sports and games open the door to a flood of temptations. They are in possession of God’s heavenly endowment in their intellectual faculties, and they should not allow their thoughts to be cheap and low.” That is from Messages to Young People, p. 382
My friends, the counsel of the Lord is very serious. I don’t think that we can participate in competitive sports with all its anti-biblical principles and expect to meet God in the judgment and say we were serious about being His people on earth. It just can’t be! In order to have the mind of Christ, we must put away the things that make us love the world and give us distaste for Christ, the study of the Bible and the salvation of souls.
Oh my friend, have you been caught up in the pleasures of sport for a season? Have you sacrificed your time and energy on the altar of the arch-deceiver, the modern Baal that plagues our schools, churches and homes? We must have the same humility of mind that Jesus had who made himself of no reputation. In other words, He did not try to promote himself over anyone else. He didn’t try to win and dominate others. Instead His mind involved so much humility that He was willing to die so that we might be saved. What a contrast to the sports mentality we see today. The mature Christian has the same mind as Jesus. Oh may God help us to turn from these things and be joined unto Christ, having His mind guiding and keeping us always in the path of righteousness.
Let us pray. Our Father in Heaven, we want to have the mind of Christ. We want to be with Jesus in our eternal home. We know that we cannot be there unless we have Jesus’ mind and think as He thinks. Help us today to surrender anything that is on Satan’s banquet table, and leave it behind. If we have been addicted to sports Lord, we pray that we can let go of them and turn to more profitable ventures for our Heavenly Father and win souls for the Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
It is taking the world by storm and has crept into the lives of God’s people. It is leading millions to eternal destruction because of its subtle and perverse nature.