Disqualified!  The word no athlete ever wants to hear!  Yet when we fail to live by God’s rules for life, that infraction disqualifies us from having a real relationship with God here on earth, as well as for all eternity with him in Heaven.  To reject the rules is to reject the One who made them.  All of us, even those who seem to be the best among us, are guilty.  As the Ultimate Training Manual (the Bible) clearly explains, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23 NIV)”

Imagine the scene.  The crowds go wild as the leading runner approaches the finish line.  The marathon is almost over.  Hours of pain and sheer determination are about to reach their fulfillment.  As she breaks the tape, the throngs of onlookers explode in a tidalwave of excitement.  Cameras flash.  Applause thunders.  Awards are presented.  The glory is all hers…but there is a problem…First one report, then another.  Several specatators saw her emerge from the crowd a mile from the finish line!  Video confirms it, she took a shortcut!  The glory she was basking in is quickly exchanged for shame.  Stripped of her title, humiliated, she is escorted away.

We often try to take shortcuts in life, thinking our ways are better than God’s.  We take shortcuts to what we perceive as happiness through various earthly pleasures (accumulation of things, relationships, substance abuse, etc).  We take shortcuts to “success” with white lies, manipulation, and deceptions.  We look for hope in self-help books, TV gurus, and the latest  fads.  Choosing our own way instead of God’s, doing what he forbids and ignoring what he commands us to do, is called sin.  It builds a wall between us and God.  The Bible says, “your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear. (Isa 59:2 NIV)”

There are stiff consequences for breaking God’s rules, “for the wages (getting what we deserve) of sin is death. (Ro 6:23 NIV)”  While we may not literally be wiped off the planet, we do experience a state of death as we live.  Separated from God, we experience guilt, purposelessness, hopelessness, fear, and anxiety.  Our lives are littered with many types of broken relationships as we attempt to fill the void that only the one who created us can fill.  When we die in this state, we are forever separated from God, never to know the joy and fullfillment of a relationship with him.  Hell itself the harsh reality of disqualification.

Let’s be honest, none of us likes to admit our mistakes, and disqualification is a hard pill to swallow.  After all, we can’t be that bad…can we?  The truth is, everyone has violated God’s rules at some point.  Until we face our own sin, we can never move on, and hopefully get back on course.  Are we ready to come to grips with our own attempts to cheat the course and take all the glory for ourselves?  We alone are responsible for our actions.  No good deeds, no moral life, no positive attitude or self help program, not even a church or church membership can erase our violations.  The sin inside of us is like a drug, turning us into habitual cheaters.  We have a chronic condition inherited from the very first racer and it has been a curse on mankind ever since.  We are completely helpless to save ourselves and get back on course.  Our detour is taking us in the wrong direction and the podium now seems an impossibility, for how can such a sin-weakened athlete ever ger turned around and know a sinless and perfect God? CONTINUE