Truth, Love, and Lance

by David Asscherick  |  November 3, 2014

“What Lance couldn’t handle was the truth.” So said Betsy Andreu at the close of Alex Holmes’s difficult-to-watch documentary on the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong, Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story.

Lance is not alone.

Most of us can’t handle the truth.

Just today, I returned from a two-week trip to Jasper, Oregon to teach for the 2014 ARISE program. Nowadays, many airplanes have movies and television programs available on demand. I surveyed the offerings and found 90% of them entirely uninteresting or just plain ungodly. But Stop at Nothing caught my eye. Lance is the ultimate study in deception and perhaps self-deception. Seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance was the most decorated and successful cyclist of all time. More than this, he is a cancer survivor and founder of The Livestrong Foundation, a cancer research and support organization which has raised more than half a billion dollars since 1997.

Lance was a very big fish indeed, until he admitted in early 2013, after years of deflection and denial, that he had employed PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) to help him accomplish his seemingly superhuman feats.

He now lives in ignominy and relative obscurity.

As I sat on the plane watching, I found it hard to believe what I was seeing and hearing. I already knew the story, yes, but it’s almost unbelievable nonetheless. Nearly two decades of deception and lies had finally caught up to Lance. He hadn’t confessed out of contrition or a feeling of moral sensitivity or duty. No, he’d gotten caught, plain and simple. He confessed out of sheer necessity. He was forced to face the music.

His major sponsors—Nike, Oakley, Trek Bicycles, and others—were like rats off the proverbial sinking ship. Lance, a giant figure both in and out of the word of cycling, was suddenly quite alone. In an interview with Oprah, in which he made his confession public, he estimated that he’d lost 75 million dollars in a couple of days from forfeited sponsorship deals and contracts. His seven Tour de France titles were stripped.

The truth had been there all along. There’s debate about who in Lance’s inner circle knew what. And when they knew it. There’s no debate about this, however: Lance knew the truth all along.

Or did he?

Self-deception is very dangerous and very real. And it’s not uncommon. In fact, probably the easiest person to fool is yourself.  And the toughest person to convince that you’re not being fooled is yourself.

Scripture has much to say about self-deception. Here’s a sampling.

  • “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1Corinthians 3:18).
  • “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3).
  • “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1John 1:8).
  • “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

Plainly, self-deception is real, dangerous, and common. The repeated warnings about it in Scripture should awaken and alert us. They should frighten us.

The only antidote for self-deception is the truth. But the truth can be hard to come by for the person entrenched in self-deception. Layer upon layer of lies effectively insulate the deceived from coming face to face with the truth. When this happens, when an edifice of lies surrounds and insulates us, we are in a very dangerous and precarious position.

Though he may not think so now, and certainly wouldn’t have thought so on that fateful day he lost an estimated 75 million dollars, Lance was lucky that, at last, he was caught. It was the best thing that could’ve happened to him.

As the documentary drew to its climatic close, I found myself thinking about the ARISE students I’d spent the last two weeks with. In class after class, and study after study, it was clear that they were craving truth, whatever the cost and whatever the consequences. Their enthusiasm for Scripture, ministry, and the truth was inspiring. These truths were not always easy to hear or bear, but they longed for them nonetheless.

This craving isn’t natural. It’s supernatural. It comes from above, from Him who is the Truth—Jesus Christ.

Because the truth is that none of us can handle the truth. Not Lance. Not me. And not you. Naturally, we love to lie and be lied to. Only Jesus and His love can break that spell. And that’s what I was seeing day after day in the ARISE classroom: the love of Jesus and a love for Jesus.

Love not only casts out fear (1John 4:18), it also casts out falsehood, lies, and deception. Truth and love are the closest of friends. We need them both. And both are abundantly available in Jesus Christ.

The ARISE students are learning this day by day. So am I.

I hope Lance does too.

David Asscherick Speaker
Light Bearers
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  • Denése F. Newby

    IT WAS A SAD DAY WHEN IT BECAME CLEAR THAT LANCE HAD CHEATED IN ALL THOSE RACES. I couldn’t grapple with it. It was weird! How could he have gone on so long and deceived SO MANY people? How could he keep on doing it? He’ll always wonder how he would have performed without the drugs. He trained hard anyway. What a waste of all those years!

    I hope he finds Jesus one day soon. It will help him so much.

    I’m from Kloof, near Durban, South Africa

  • Theophilus

    Thanks David. I find your articles encouraging and well thought out. Truth along with Faith and Love are of inestimable and eternal value. I recently discovered that they are represented by the pure gold offered to each of us by the True Witness (Rev. 3:18). Check out the following EGW encouragement (entire article is too long for a blog post).

    “And yet the case is not altogether beyond remedy. The Mediator has not left them hopeless. He says, ‘I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed’ (Rev. 3:18, KJV)…. The churches may yet obtain the gold of truth, faith, and love, and be rich in heavenly treasure” (RH, July 24, 1888 par. 2, 3).

  • claudinec

    We all need Trust and Love. Thank you Dave

  • Glenda Mock

    Excellent article. We lie to ourselves and try to make deals with God. Who are we kidding…or we behave differently out of town than we do at home thinking no one will see us..going to the movies, the bar, the dance,we are only deceiving ourselves…forgetting God is aware of our actions and thought son matter where we are. We must stay buried in the Word to be born again.

  • My question now would be, “How do I, a blinded, ignorant, comforted, numbed sinner, know how to search for Truth? How do I awake from the dead body that I have and become new? How do the dry,lifeless desserts in my soul become flourishing gardens with rushing rivers? How do i get out of this wretched situation from where I’m in?” I’m not comfortable with this garment of lies and I long to be free from it, but how in the world do I get myself out of this when I cant even do anything myself. The weight of the lies that sits upon my shoulders cannot let me move or even fight for myself. Any help would refresh me. Thank you.

  • Israel,

    Ty Gibson addresses your very question in point 3 of this post: Three Simple Steps for Overcoming Any Sin

    Blessings in your continuing journey!

  • Tracey Grentz

    Thank you for this very insightful article. It is so true, we often lie to ourselves about our true condition, We lie to ourselves in the vain attempt to protect ourselves from what we do not want to face in the mirror. We can read astounding truth in scripture and easily see how it applies to someone else, yet be blinded to how profoundly it applies to our own selves. But time is rapidly running out, and we need to boldly, prayerfully, face the truth about our desperate condition and our desperate need for Christ. I marvel at what I see that Christ has put into the hearts of this young generation. I hear the young in our church speak with an honest, sincere passion for Christ, Quite honestly, I see in so many of them, what so many in my generation lack. You can plainly see how Christ is equipping them to finish His great work. But that does NOT leave my generation off the hook, we need to wake up and sincerely pray for His outpouring, and we need to ACTIVELY encourage and support our younger generation. I see in my church too many of the older afraid to listen to what the younger have to say. They seem to be afraid that the younger may say something inappropriate. But I say let them speak, let them share what is in their hearts, because I believe we will be astounded if we do. Please stop giving them a script, and trust the Holy Spirit to speak through them with their own voices. Do not forget how young some of the founding members of our denomination were! I am in no way taking away from those in my generation who have faithfully and actively worked for Christ’s cause, there are MANY. But it deeply bothers me when I see them refusing to give our younger generation their voice in our church, after all, it IS their church too!

  • Very good blog david I remember what you said one day; how does one know one is being deceived?? You don’t, until you realize youre being deceived …that has always stuck in my head

  • Flynn

    Poor Lance! As I was reading your comments my heart hurt. For Lance; for the deception he perpetrated on folks that believed in what he professed to stand for: for the people that were deceived by his shameful behavior: and for humankind for the easy come/ easy go support they lent to Armstrong while he was in their “good” graces. While reading, I also thought of Jim and Tammy Baker and the grief and heartache caused by that man’s (and woman) deception. I think of the Seventh-day Adventist history that I know about and shutter to think about the shameful behavior we have exhibited (who will say that we are free (either historically or currently) from scandal, wrong doing, and faithlessness?).

    You, the Arise/ Light Bearers team just had a convocation wherein the Righteousness of Christ was the theme. The faith of Christ was the topic throughout the history of the world, even to our own times. The year before the theme was the Acts of the Apostles, but it was clear the Acts of the apostles, could also be our Acts, by faith in Jesus Christ. And the year before that, the theme was “We would see Jesus” (through the gospel of John). Christ and His matchless love was presented.

    Brother(en) keep up the good work. It is evident the love of God resides with you all, and is shared with many through your works. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Rom 10:15 KJV

    May we as God’s people confess our faults and ask for His wisdom. He will for sure pardon our wrong doings; for He has given His word to do so. He will open our eyes if we truly want to see. He will heal our hurts and give us a new heart. How can we go back to the former things of the old man, seeing how we have put on the new man (see Eph. 4:22 & Col. 3:8-10). Let our prayers be for forgiveness; for knowledge and insight of spiritual things; for the desire to “do” God’s will and Act in faith to perform it; for greater love for one another. Amen.

  • SENAYA

    A biblical biography that suits this illusionary fallacy is King Saul, but thank God for His saving disillusioning intervention!

  • Bryn Jones

    It started with Lucifer and he’ll use this ploy until the end on sin.
    Thank you for this reminder.
    Auckland, NZ