“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Cor. 9:24027)
To understand this topic that I want to share with you, I will like us to see some things about the physical fouls. In seeing the physical fouls, I will want us to look at sports. In sports, foul play results in infringement, the person and or team would be penalized for what happened. This penalization however depends on one or all of the beneath:
1. The referee/umpire: is he lenient or not. Take the case of football as example some referees are not lenient thus any slight tackling against a player, even body to body contacts are being penalized by such people and when this happens recurrently, such referee makes the game boring with spectators complaining and grumbling where they are. Some would not leave the stadium before the match be ended because of the referee. And in the past such things do lead to riots in several stadia globally.
2. The player against whom the foul is committed: it has been noticed that some star players do enjoy the protection of some of the referees such that when a player contests with them for possession of ball, the player contesting against them would be penalized,
3. The severity or force of the foul: the severity of the foul matters because some severe cases of attack result in the player becoming disable for the rest of his or her life. To prevent something like this, sports governing bodies resolve that tackling people from behind is not allowed, it is considered rough and dangerous tackling.
4. The number of occurrences or times this foul is committed: if a player has been noticed to be attacking a player wrongly and have been warned before such a player needs to take caution because another rough tackling may not attract warning but a severe penalty from the referee or umpire
5.The law governing the game: different sports have different rules governing them and it is expected that the players know and master those rules governing the games they chose as a career.
Factors at Play on Spiritual Foul
There are so many factors that come into play in deciding what should be done on the foul committed by a player in the field of play which may lead to the players been warned, sent off the pitch, country (or team) disciplined, fans of the team may also be affected in the case of riots and so on. This physical view can be extrapolated into the spiritual clime for our understanding this message.
You and I as Christians also need to know that we are being governed by some laws because we are on the field of play in the world that we are in. When we go against the set laws and standards of God, whose children we are, we must know that we have committed some fouls and would be penalized as God seemly found fit.
However, before we, believers, shall be penalized in the world’s field of play some things shall be looked into as it does happen to sportsmen in the world. Some of the things that shall be looked at are: the location; time (sometimes/often); previous warnings; the intent of the person as studied by the umpire; the mood of the umpire. Shall we now see some of those things?
1. Referee or Umpire: irrespective of how lenient or naïve a referee is if the foul committed by the player is obvious, he will not hesitate to book the player and or the team. Therefore, all is enjoined to play safe, to play according to the rules of the game and let there be no sharp practices.
This is how it is in the spiritual clime too, irrespective of how lenient and merciful our God is, when we as believers and his children fail to play according to the rule of the game, we shall be penalized.
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” (1 Cor. 9:24-25)
The Greek word for mastery here is ““ἀγωνίζομαι” which is “agōnizomai” (pronunciation ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee) which means to struggle, literally (to compete for a prize), figuratively (to contend with an adversary), or generally (to endeavor to accomplish something): - fight, labor fervently, strive.” Apostle Paul also uses the events of his days to explain to his listeners that we are on the sports field in the world contending with flesh, blood, sin and Satan. Though we are competing with them, fighting with them, we yet need to do it as it is expected of us, we do not have to do it as it is not expected. We need to strive for it legally and lawfully as being laid down by our God.
In striving for it as it is expected he stated further in this verse that it should be done in temperate manner. Let us see what this word means. The Greek word is “ἐγκρατεύομαι”, “egkrateuomai” (being pronounced as “eng-krat-yoo'-om-ahee) which means toexerciseselfrestraint (in diet and chastity)”. Here in we shall see that one of the means to play according to the rule of the game is exercising self-control (restraint) in diet and chastity. We cannot afford to live anyhow like the unbelievers are living and think we are running the race as being expected of us by God. This word is telling us that
When we can exercise self-restraints or discipline in what we eat, we would live healthily, as it has been revealed by medical personnel that many of the diseases that the inhabitants of the world are combating today are associated with what we eat. Many believers do not know how to control themselves when it comes to eating and when the negative consequences raise up its ugly head we would know how to run to the Lord for assistances and some may even err when their helps are on the way saying that the Lord is not doing good. The apostle says, if we desire to fight against flesh and blood, we need to exercise restraints in what we eat.
We need know that we don’t just eat anything, we eat those things that are nutritional, those things that are balanced, those things that are good for our bodies, because our bodies are the instruments, are the channels through which the Lord will reach to the people who are outside. When we fail to eat balanced diet there would be problems to us, some would complain of recurrent indigestion and so on. The medical people thence advise that we take fruits daily to support the immune in us, to make us whole, healthy and be fit for the master’s use anytime and anywhere.
Some of us will go on series of marathon fasting but after we stopped those fasting, we would not eat well, some would want to eat everything that he has missed over the days in a day. This is showing indiscipline in the attitude of eating and the apostle is saying we are not doing well, he is saying we are not playing according to the rules and we should expect its damning consequences which we may not like.
Again, when we exercise restraints in what we eat, we shall be able to save some money for ourselves, our future, our children and the gospel. Many of us envied those who are rich in the world today because we are lacking in this, in restraining our spending on what we eat. By this we shall indubitably discover that God desires that we have more than enough as his children, but we need to live in tandem with his will, we need to learn to play according to his rules, we need to restrain ourselves in what we take in, in how we spend on foods. This is not like before when many of us are farmers, this is the advent of technology such that we earn salaries and use it to buy other things we need. One of the primary things consuming our money is foods that we buy. If we can restrain ourselves on this wise, apostle Paul says we shall be playing according to the rules and of course would be doing ourselves and the gospel some good because of living according to the rules.
Another means of playing according to the rule as stated here in is that we need to also exercise self-restraints in chastity. Chastity is defined by online free dictionary as “the condition or quality of being chaste, especially the condition of not having had sexual intercourse or of abstaining from sexual relations.” Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Thessalonians hammered this to the saints by saying,
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
“That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
“Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:” (1 Thes. 4:3-5)
Playing according to the rules, playing as being desired by God is learning to voluntarily keep ourselves under control, keep those things God has given us under control and mostly, our sex organs. The Greek word for vessel in the above bible quotation is “σκεῦος”, called “skeuos” (pronounced as “skyoo'-os) which means “a vessel, implement, equipment or apparatus (literally or figuratively (specifically a wife as contributing to the usefulness of the husband))”. From the above definition, if a wife could contribute to the usefulness of the hubby, the hubby too needs to contribute to the usefulness of the wife. One of the things for which marriage is designed for after companionship is mutual satisfaction through sex.
“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
“But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Cor. 7: 5 & 9)
Bible enjoins those who cannot hold themselves to ensure that they go and marry instead of foul play, instead of doing what the Lord detests.
“And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2 Tim. 2:5)
The people of the world can be doing it and be scaling through but apostle Paul in the book of Thessalonians says God through Jesus does not want those of us who belong to him to do something like that, because doing something like that is a foul play before him and anyone who does that would not be without punish.
Every bible student would remember the story of King David and Bathsheba the wife of Uriah that the king despite being loved by God, when he failed to play according to the rules he was penalized by God.
“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
“And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
“And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
“And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.” (2 Sam. 11:1-4)
For the king to cover his tracks, he summoned the woman’s husband from the warfront so that he would lay with the woman. May I say that those who are send to warfront do spend days, months and sometimes years in the battle field, then and now.
“And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.” (1 Sam. 17:16)
Then is not like now that there are aircrafts that could take soldiers from warfront home within hours. When the woman, Bathsheba sent to the king that she has taken in, the king became restless and after a thorough thought, knowing that the battle will not likely come to an end before the pregnancy protrude out, because he would be receiving update from the General, Joab, everyday, de resolved that he needs to act fast and therefore he sent someone to Joab to as a matter of urgency send Uriah to him.
“And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.
“And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.
“And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.
“But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.” (2 Sam. 11:6-9)
Joab did what the king said, but Uriah did not do what the king said as he feared the Lord and considered the advice of the king good for the ears alone.
“And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?
“And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.” (2 Sam. 11:10-11)
How good it will be if we can have people who will value the word of the Lord, things of the Lord more than what their prophets say, more than what their pastors say. The world would be a better place and Christianity would be an enviable thing in the world.
Uriah told the king that he valued the word of God more than sexual pleasure that would last for a moment.
When king David saw that he did not yield to his counsel, he decided to manipulate him, he decided to use the worldly style to apprehend him, he asked his servants to invite the man to his table to dine and wine with him, the man was being served wine and monitored until he became drunk.
“And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.” (2 Sam. 11:13)
His consciousness has been affected, but none the less this wonderful man proved to be right a proverb that says someone who misbehaves after taken excess wine (or strong drink) only does so because such thing has been in his heart before. He proved that his mind cannot be manipulated, he proved to the king his strong resolution not to defile himself until the battle be over.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Prov. 20:1)
He showed the king that he was wise according to the book of proverb that if he should fall because of what he has been given he is the chief of all fools in the world.
When we see someone talking trash, someone misbehaving because of being intoxicated by wine, when we see someone who has raped a person because of strong drinks that he has taken, when we see someone who has killed a person because of strong drink he or she has taken and in the law court they are arguing that the person was no longer himself or herself when he was doing the thing, Uriah’s act here is telling us that it is a lie, that such a one who acts untowardly has been nursing what he eventually did in his heart before he carried it out.
What Uriah did touch the mind of the Lord where he was, and he was patiently watching the game as it was being played by the two players.
When King David saw that all his evil plans, the unprofessional method of play has been exhausted he designed the last one which was killing the man. All these he was doing because he wanted to cover his tracks. How have you also been going against the injunctions of the Lord all because you want to cover your tracks, because you do not want your sins to be exposed? The bible says, “and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Num. 32:23) Irrespective of what you do to cover your tracks from the people of the world to see, your sin will still reveal you one day.
“And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
“And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.
“And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.
“And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.” (2 Sam. 11:14-17)
All these while that King David has been doing all of these, I believe he would have been receiving bookings, warnings from the Lord through his mind, conscience, but he flagrantly went against the repeated warnings and continue with what he was doing until the man was killed.
After Uriah’s death General Joab sent message to him of what has happened, he was also afraid of what the reaction and the disposition of the king would be to the news and thus he asked the man he sent to give the king some “cushion” like news when he wants to be annoyed unknown to him that the king would not be annoyed with the incident. When the message was delivered to the king, he indirectly appraised the general and asked the person he sent to tell him that he should ensure that they won the war in no distant time. But this that King David did, displeased the Lord and he was officially penalized. God has been warning him before, but now, he did not warn him again, he penalized him which eventually led to him being chased out of the throne by his own son among other things that he encountered being the result of the penalization.
“Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him.
“And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.
“And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (2 Sam. 11: 25-27)
The king may have been thinking that no one can know about this, because those in the palace whom he had sent to go and call the woman, Bathsheba for him have been bought over, they have been silenced they have entered into agreement with the king to keep their mouth shut. But the Yahweh whose mouth can neither be kept shut nor bought over sees everything and he decides to expose what he did in the secret to all and sundry to see. This he did when he sent his seer, Nathan, to him that he has been penalized.
“And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
“And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
“Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
“Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
“For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” (2 Sam. 12:7-13)
What he did could have cost him his life, but the sentence was changed, and it was to be shared by his family members and tribe.
This is what it means to play foul, not to play according to the rules of the game.
It is possible that some of us may have been thinking that it is of no significance fleeing fornication especially when we see the people of the world doing it and yet making it, but we need to know that we are different from them. Take this as illustration, what indigenes of America will do and will be apprehended, scolded and discipline when the indigenes of Nigeria do it, he may go unpunished. That is how we are before God. What others who do not belong to Jesus would do and yet be prospering, you and I as children of God when we do such we shall be severely punished by God, because we have played foul, we have gone against his rules.
Playing according to the rule as this author writes is learning to exercise self-constraints, disciplining ourselves.
2. The Status: what a naïve person would neither be blamed nor penalized for, someone who has come of age would be blamed for such. A child may do something, and he would not be penalized, but when an adult does the same thing that adult would be penalized. That also happens spiritually. Shall we take the case of Prophet Moses and the children of Israel for example. What Prophet Moses did, and he was booked almost immediately, the children of Israel were given longer rope to pull before being booked. Why did this happen? It happened because of their different status before God, for God expects Prophet Moses to have matured more than that, having seen God and interacted with him closely than they were.
“(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
“And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.
“And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
“My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
“With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
“And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.” (Num. 12: 3-9)
From the above we can see the confidence reposed in the man, we can read of God’s testimony of Prophet Moses, but alas, when he ought to confirm God’s testimonial of him, he fell below the mark and this grieved the Lord greatly such that he cannot overlook it and he was penalized instantly.
“And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!
“And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?
“And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.
“And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
“Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
“And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
“And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
“And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” (Numb. 20:3-12)
For this decision against him, Prophet Moses went before the Lord thrice to appeal unto Yahweh that he should have mercy on him, but his prayers were turned down.
“And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,
“O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?
“I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.
“But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.
“Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” (Deut. 3:23-27)
After seeing the land which the Lord swore to give the Israelis, he was commanded to go to mount where he died.
“Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:
“And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:
“Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
“Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.” (Deut. 32:49-52)
“So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
“And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
“And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” (Deut. 34:5-7)
3. The Frequency of The Infringement Committed: Frequency is defined as the number of times that an event occurs within a given period. When a person continues to play against the rule of the spiritual game, and the person is being warned repeatedly but fail to yield, the person will be booked. Take the case of High Priest Eli’s sons as example, when they were not doing the service as being laid down by God, after several warnings they were penalized.
“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Prov. 29:1)
“Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.” (1 Sam. 2:12)
“Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
“And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
“Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord's people to transgress.
“If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.” (1 Sam. 2:22-25)
When they did not repent, they were penalized by God as contained in the message sent unto their father.
“And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them” (1 Sam. 2:34)
What God said he did because the two of them died the same day on the battle field leading to the father’s death too.
“And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
“And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
“And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.” (1 Sam. 4:16-18)
Have you been warned by God to stop some actions? Is your conscience condemning you on some things? You have to stop doing those things and turn to God. Do not consider the warnings of the Lord to mean laxity on his part, he is giving you a long rope to pull, giving you time to repent.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)
After repeated warnings on what one is doing that is not right by God, such a one would be ignored by God, left alone so that he would receive the punishment that is due unto him in due time.
3. Force: in sports the force at which one commits the infringement would be noticed by the umpire or referee, this would also affect their decision on what to do for the person who has committed the offence/infringement. This is also taken into consideration by God the force which one commits the infringement.
One of the definitions of force says, “to compel or cause (a person, group, etc.) to do something through effort, superior strength etc.; coerce (to pressure or intimidate, or force someone into doing something).
From this definition bible students shall recall that King Saul did something like this when he started playing against the rules seeking the life of David all around the kingdom, but God did not give him David, after which he was judged and he died in the battle field.
4. The Law Governing The Game: in football game, one of the law of the game is that players should not attack from the back. If any player does this such a player would be penalized and depending on the severity of the attack, he may be sent off the pitch of play.
One of the laws governing the race to the kingdom of God is that we speak the truth one to another. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deed” (Col. 3:9) anyone who tells lie is considered to belong to the devil because it is the devil who lies, and Jesus calls the devil the father of all liars. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (Joh 8:44)
Let us see the case of a man who tells lie in the bible to the apostles, “Ananias, with Sapphira his wife” in the book of Acts of the Apostles chapter 5, we shall see that they were penalized and the penalty of their lies was death.
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
“And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
“Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
“And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
“And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
“Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
“Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.” (Acts 5: 1-5 & 7-10)
Anyone who speaks lies would be penalized by God has he has done unto his spiritual father, the devil, the father and originator of lies. One of the chief penalties that will sure be handed over to such a one is eternal death.
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)
5. Location: where the infringement is being committed is important, because if it is in the 18-yard box it is a serious offence which may result in a goal and subsequent loss of the team in addition to the penalization that would be handed over to the player. The location is also important to God. Ananias and Saphira lied to the apostles in the temple, they should have feared the Lord, feared that the Lord has put his name to be in the temple but they did not and they could not dodge the judgment as they died on the spot.
We shall also remember that the sons of High Priest Eli also committed most of their offences in the temple, desecrating the temple, though they weren’t killed immediately because the Lord was expecting a stiffer measure from their father, but he did not do that, he was patting them at the back of their hands. What he did God was not happy with and thus he was also judged alongside with those children.
“And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
“Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress.
“If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.” (1 Sam. 2:23-25)
When we read this place sometimes we shall think that their father rebuked them, after all they have come of age, he cannot take cane and be beating them, but on further read of the scriptures, when we get to verse 29 of this same book we shall see that the sharp rebuke that God expects of him he did not do, God sees his heart, God sees that he uses preferential treatments for his children, he did not discipline them as he expects which makes the children to continue in their nefarious activities.
“Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?” (1 Sam. 2: 29)
Is this not what used to happen today? Many of us in the name of trying to press home our messages would lie on the podium, would lie in the house of the Lord, we would lie to win people’s hearts because our lies do not win God’s heart, he detests it as he detests the first liar and his lies.
Causes of (Spiritual) Foul
Here in I want us to see some of the things that usually cause spiritual foul.
1. Under Pressure: when we are under pressure we tend to play against the rules, but that is not an excuse before God for he knows we shall be faced with such a situation and condition and would have make ways of escape for us, we are those who should explore such escape route. We would remember Eve in the garden of Eden that she succumbed and played against the rule when under pressure from the serpent so to say, but despite this, lodging the complaint unto God she was not absolved of the blame. (Genesis 3)
2. When Down (Losing): when we are losing, we also tend to play against the rules. One person that would readily come to our mind is King Saul. He was expected and commanded to wait for the confirmation and the establishment of his kingdom, but when he started losing followers he succumbed to pressure from within and without to do what was not expected of him and he was penalized, for his reign couldn’t be established on the people of God again.
“And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
“Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
“And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
“But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.” (1 Sam. 13: 11-14)
When we think we are losing grounds while waiting for the Lord, when we think we are losing grounds when we are doing the will of God, it is expected of us that we keep on keeping on, because God is neither blind nor deaf as to see and notice what we are passing through at that moment, what he expects of us is to wait till the end, for he says whosoever waits unto the end shall be saved.
3. Position: When some of us are seeking position, we tend to play against the rules. Some because they want to become the governor of their state, the president of their association and all what not would deep their hands into things that should not be heard of among the children of God.
Consider the story of one of the sons of Gideon (Jerubbaal), what he did unto his other siblings all because he wants to be the head, he wants to step into the shoes of his father, he killed his other siblings.
“And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father,…
“And … Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.
“And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.” (Jugd. 9:1, 4 & 5)
What are you doing because you want to attain a position in the society? Is what you are doing according to the will of God? If what you are doing is not in tandem with the will of God, it is better for you to have a re-thought and repent and come to the Lord today, for his hands is still stretch out to welcome and accept you.
4. Desperate to Acquire Something: when we are desperate to possess something, we tend to do anything to possess or get that thing. A definition of desperate says “having no hope”. Take as instance the story of King Ahab when he wants to possess Naboth’s inheritance he was pushed by his wife to do the unexpected and they were penalized afterwards.
“And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
“So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
“And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
“And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
“And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
“They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
“And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
“And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
“And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
“Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
“And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
“And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.
“Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
“And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
“And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
“Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.
“But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” (1 Kings 21: 7-13 & 16-25)
It does not matter to God whether it is your wife who pushed you or your husband who advised you to do what is not in agreement with the will of God, what matters to him is that you have failed you have not overcome the evil with good and you will be punished as he has punished those afore you.
Some of the effects (or outcome of spiritual foul play is what I want to say here.
1. Sickness: one of the penalties of spiritual foul play is that the person would be struck with disease by God. One of the kings of Judah called Uzziah played foul play and he was struck with infirmity in the bible.
“But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
“And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men:
“And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.
“Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar.
“And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him.
“And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land.
“Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.
"So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.” (2 chron. 26:16-23)
2. Withdrawal of Promises or Break of Covenant: when we do not play the game as being stated by the Lord, he can withdraw his earlier promises that he made with us and or break his covenants with us. I want us to recall the incident that betide the house of High Priest Eli again. What High Priest Eli God’s servant did pained God such that he withdrew his earlier covenants made with his lineage.
“Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the lord saith, be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
“Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
“And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
“And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.
“And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
“And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.” (1 Sam. 2: 30-36)
God broke the covenant of his lineage being a high priest before him, the privilege that has been given their family members were taken off them because they did not play according to the rules and most especially because the high priest honored their children instead of making God the supreme.
3. Captured by Enemies: another effect of this spiritual foul play is that the person would be handed over to his or her enemies. One could only imagine what it means to be handed over unto the enemies than experiencing it. Someone who knows what it means to play foul play and be handed over unto one’s enemies was Samson in the bible.
Samson has been enjoying God’s divine provisions for long until he decided to play against the rules. When he did this God stand afar from him and allowed his enemies to overtake him, they arrested him, imprisoned him and remove his eyes from him. Is this not terrible?
“And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.
“But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.” (Judg. 16:20-21)
4. Sending Away: when Adam and Eve played foul play in the garden of Eden God penalized them by sending them out of the garden of Eden.
“Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Gen. 3: 23-24)
When we play against his rules, he will not take it lightly with us and those things that we are enjoying maybe taken away from us.
5. Destruction Properties: Jehoshaphat king of Judah forms ally with the king of Israel which God did not like, God considers this a spiritual foul play and penalized king Jehoshaphat for this.
“And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.
“And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.” (2 Chron. 19: 1-2)
“And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:
“And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongeber.
“Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.” (2 Chron. 20: 35-36)
6. Death: when the children of Israel did not carry the ark of the covenant as it should be carried, one of them was struck dead by God for touching the ark.
“And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
“And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
“And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day.” (2 Sam. 6:6-8)
Sometimes when we choose to follow our own paths and ignore the laid down path of the Lord to follow this may incur his wrath and we would be killed by him.
Fouls needed to be avoided by good players as best as they can. Therefore, in ensuring that they are not caught in the web of foul or rough play they usually do some things. Shall we see some of the things being done by players as we bring it into the spiritual realm?
1. They Get A Good Coach (or Trainer) For Themselves: A person who has desired to make sports his or her career would not be playing the game like someone who is playing it for leisure someone whom the medical personnel advised to be doing exercise regularly to burn the fats in his body. Those kinds of people do not need coaches to tell them about the rules and the rudiments of the game, because what they are doing, they are doing it for fun of it. We as believers cannot afford to follow Christ like those who bear Christian names, because their parents were Christians or because they got to a place where they discovered that majority of the people there are Christians and for that change their names to avoid segregation or to get promoted easily but who have not given their lives to Jesus Christ, people who have not been saved. We cannot practice our Christianity like that for if we do, we shall soon play foul plays in the field of play that we are in. To avoid this, we need a coach and the coach assigned for all who have given their lives to Jesus on earth is the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:13-14) do you have Holy Ghost inside of you? As believers, I believe you have some measures of Holy Spirit in you the day you give your life to Jesus, but how do you allow the Holy Spirit to have effect on your life, your decisions and on what you do? A player who does not give his coach free hand to instruct him would soon be playing it rough and by that lose it all.
2. Know The Laws or Rules of The Game: It is essential that a player knows the rules governing the game he has chosen because failure to do that would make him vulnerable. When the children of Israel have not been given laws, they do what they like in the wilderness, but immediately the laws have been spelt out to them, they became cautious of God and what they were doing. For you as believer to know the laws of God you need to be reading the bible, do not make reading the bible once in a while thing, read the bible every day and every time for in reading it we shall know those laws and we won’t play amiss.
“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.” (Josh 1:8)
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (Jn 5:39)
3. Conform To Those Laws: It is of no use knowing something but not doing it. Jesus talks about the leaders of his days that they know what the laws say but they will not do it, such shouldn’t be our lot we need to be practicing the word of God.
“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
“Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
“All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” (Mat. 23:1-3)
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (Jn 8:31)
4. Discipline Yourself: In playing to the rules one should learn to discipline himself because there are people on the field of play who are going to be doing what is wrong, when they do what is wrong the bible enjoins us to do what is right to overcome evil with good because two evils don’t make a good.
“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:17-21)
5. Don’t Be Overtaken By Emotion: Emotion is defined as instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge. Sometimes what other players do on the field of play make the player from another team angry or even the player of the same team. In an attempt or effort to pay back the player who has miffed the person, such player that have been overtaken by anger would not play to instructions again which would have negative effect on the team as well as the player who wants to pay the player back in his or her coins. Apostle Paul and Apostle Barnabas got separated because of their emotions that couldn’t be controlled.
“And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
“And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
“But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
“And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
“And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
“And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.” (Acts 15:36-41)
When we accepted Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior we need remember that, our reasoning are not been taken away from us, God leaves our reasoning in us expecting us to use it in the service for him as we guard our hearts.
“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
“For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:13, 22 & 23)
6. Repent in Case of Mistake: No one on earth is faultless, we make mistakes every time, and when we make the mistake and we are being shown the mistake, what is expected of us is to repent from them and apologize where and when necessary. Apologize to God as well as our partners.
When we do these, we shall be worthy ambassadors of Jesus Christ and would play less foul plays in the world.
We need to ensure that we always play according to the rules, play as God has highlight it for us. In doing this we need to be close with our bibles, no one can be our standard because every human being has fault it is only God who is perfect and in reaching the Lord’s perfection, we need to know him and his word as contained in the bible.
After getting to know the Lord God, we need to be cautious of our ways, take heed to ourselves always, obeying his injunctions to the letters as we have read them in the bible.