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Lance Armstrong's Slide into Self-Deception

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In 2001, Lance Armstrong made an anti-doping commercial for Nike in which he strongly disavowed using illegal drugs. In the commercial, Armstrong boldly states, "This is my body, and I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it. Study it. Tweak it. Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike busting my [butt] six hours a day. What are you on?"

In 2006, during sworn testimony in a dispute over his $5 million bonus, Armstrong said he wouldn't take drugs because he had too much to lose. "(The) faith of all the cancer survivors around the world. Everything I do off the bike would go away, too …. It's not about money for me …. It's also about the faith that people have put in me over the years. So all of that would be erased."

In October 2012, Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tours de France victories and permanently banned from cycling and any World Anti-Doping Agency sanctioned events. Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, claimed that Armstrong's USPS team "ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." Tygart also said, "The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage …." It was a doping program "organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules."

Possible Preaching Angles: Integrity, Honesty, Character—This illustration is not intended to bash Lance Armstrong. Instead, it should cause all of us to reflect on our own integrity—the gap between what we say and how we actually live our lives.

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R. Wayne Hamilton

November 12, 2012  7:09pm

It's simple - he was cheating (illegal use of drugs) and public lying about it repeatedly while making millions. The Bible is full of real life illustations that God used to warn us of the consequences for sin. Are there real life illustrations today that have real names? Learning from someone's mistakes and judging his character are two different things. Do I hurt for him? You bet. Can we learn from others mistakes? We'd better. All you preachers who are scared to stand for the truth (and yes, it should be done with love and grace) have been drawn into our politically correct society that is afraid to have convictions and take a stand. Where in heaven's name are the Adrian Rogers of our day?

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Matthew Woodley

November 12, 2012  5:42pm

@Paul Springer--Excellent point, Paul. We also posted this article in our News That Illustrates column-- http://bit.ly/ZxKkml. Notice the article's title: "Living Like Lance: Everybody Dopes." The article argues that the sins of Lance Armstrong are more common than we imagine.

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Paul Springer

November 12, 2012  2:07pm

"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." Yes, Armstrong has shot his integrity into the wind with most people. However, what medications do we use to wake up and/or go to sleep due the stress of ministry, and expectation of your congregation, and the expectations we put on ourselves? How much coffee do we drink in 24 hours? How many hours do we spend jogging, running or at the gym? How much time do we spend with pornography to "dope" ourselves? To me it all the same. Lance was using performance enhancing drugs for two reasons.: 1) he felt real/andor unreal pressuer to perform for the public; 2) he had real/ and unreal expectations in his own mind and body. We are all very much like him. What real/unreal expectations do we put on ourselves. I think I know a lttle about this topic after 40 years in ministry. A lot of us use "perform enhancing doping" to get thru life as attempt to get by and perform our duties in ministry.

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Jeff Tomlian

November 12, 2012  1:22pm

Mike, Lance had many opportunities to defend himself. As hard as it is, we need to call it what it is. SIN and then repent of it. The world in which we live is losing its heroes. One by one they seem to be falling. This is a great illustration to hlep us understand that when we put our faith in humanity we will be dissapointed. However, there should be accountability and consequences.

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Matthew Woodley

November 12, 2012  10:39am

I hope preachers don't use this illustration to bash Lance Armstrong. First, we should look in our OWN hearts because we're all susceptible to (and probably guilt of) self-deception. Secondly, it's a warning for all believers to walk in integrity, asking God to search our hearts for self-deception. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this illustration? Managing Editor, PreachingToday.com

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