A Barry Bonds Primer on Sin

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Like most Americans, I've been trying not to think about Barry Bonds and his impending achievement of breaking Hank Aaron's home run record.  But the story is just too compelling.  Bonds is a truly Shakespearean figure - of the tragic sort, of course.  I've been thinking that there must be some spiritual lessons in all this, and this is what I've come up with:     My thoughts on Barry Bonds are based on the assumption that he did cheat in a major way by using steriods.  I'm a big believer in someone not being treated as guilty until they are found guilty, but the evidence against Bonds is pretty strong.  It just is not possible to set aside this evidence as one thinks about his upcoming record-breaking home run.  So while it is possible that we will all end up apologizing to Barry, at present that is not the assumption.

With this in mind, if Bonds really did cheat, what an example he is of the hardened human heart.  With what stubborn determination does our sinful nature seek to deceive and distract from the truth.  And how widely spread this tendency is.  We all should tremble to allow sin to lead us down this path.  Men who are absorbed in pornography stubbornly deny they have any problem.  Women with bitter hearts fervently insist that they are fine.  And how this engenders hurts and broken relationships.  John knew what he was talking about when he wrote, "If we walk in the light, as He is the light, we will have fellowship with one another and the blood of Christ will cleanse us from our sin" (1 Jn. 1:7).  That is why sin stubbornly holds onto the darkness.

Secondly, Bonds shows the cruel perversity of sin.  Here you have a man devoting himself to achieving a landmark to which enormous public esteem is attached, yet the way he is going about it ensures that he will gain very little public esteem.  How often sin works this way: no wonder the writer of Hebrews warns us about the "deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13).  Of course, Bonds may have motives for his pursuit of Aaron's record other than public acclaim, such as the personal pride of achievement.  Except that if he cheated, he won't really have that either.  This is what sin does to us: it drives us to sources of satisfaction but steals the value of the prize even as we attain it. 

Thirdly, sin is short-sited.  What is the likelihood of the Barry Bonds saga ending well?  It would be great if it did, but if he really did cheat and cover it up and then compound it all with lies, when the bill comes due it will be heavy indeed.  The humiliation of Mark McGuire after his Congressional equivocation was bad enough.  But if Bonds is proved guilty, prosecuted and convicted, he will get destroyed.  It makes me truly pity him, and it makes me pray for him now.  The impression I get is that he has simply hardened his heart to his detractors in the short run, with the likely effect that in the long run he will be crushed.

Lastly, Bonds reminds me of how much better it always is simply to repent.  What would have happened (or still could happen) if Bonds held a press conference and confessed his wrong-doing, explained how he was in the grips of a run-away ego, and asked people for forgiveness?  I think he would be widely embraced, his public appeal would skyrocket, and he would have a promising future as a public figure.  But oh how the sinful heart hates to repent, even though repentance is the best thing going.  Thank God for the grace of repentance, and may we Christians eagerly embrace our calling frankly to confess our known sins, sincerely seek God's help in repenting, apologizing and making due restitution, and living in the freedom of God's forgiving grace. 

It is through repentance alone that we can ever escape the short-sighted, heart-hardining, perverse and destructing effects of sin.  By the grace of God in Jesus Christ, even the worst stories of sin end up having the best of endings.
Posted August 6, 2007 @ 8:59 PM by Rick Phillips
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