THREE STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT

“Three strikes and you’re out” is baseball terminology. When someone is up to bat, they only get three swings to hit the ball. If you do not hit the ball, you are out. There are no more chances at that time at bat. No forgiveness for missing the ball that will afford another opportunity. This principle is also used in life. There is a three-strike rule when it comes to criminal offenses. Prison sentences are significantly higher upon the third conviction. There are jobs that have a three-strike rule. When someone is late three times during their probationary period they are fired. Even some people have a three-strike rule when it comes to friendship. If they are hurt or burned three times by a friend, the friendship is over. Thankfully, God does not have a three-strike rule for forgiveness if the Christian does not give up and continues in commitment. God understands how Christians must grow out of spiritual weakness and fear.

Judas, the Lord’s disciple, fell through the temptation of the devil and betrayed the Lord in his lusts for money, for “30 pieces of silver” (Mt.26:14-16). “Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly” (Jn.13:26-27). Therefore, when Jesus went into the garden to pray, he took his disciples and instructed them to pray that they, “enter not into temptation” (Lk.22:39-40). However, a parallel text shows how Peter, James, and John spiritually failed in doing what they should have done by falling to sleep three times (Mt.26:36-45). The Lord said, “…the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (v.41). The disciples also failed in spiritual strength in courageously standing with the Lord in the face of persecution as they had promised (Mt.26:31-35,56). Peter, who said he would die with the Lord, utterly denied the Lord three times (Mt.26:35,69-75). The Lord understood that Peter and the apostles needed to grow in spiritual faith (Lk.22:31-32). But if the Lord had a three-strike rule for forgiveness, his disciples would have been disqualified from salvation (Mt.10:32-33). However, because they did not give up as Judas did (Mt.27:3-5), the Lord did not give up on them. Even after physically proving his resurrection to his disciples, some still doubted, but he continued to use them anyway (Jn.20:19-28; Mt.28:16-20).

The Lord will continue using committed Christians as they grow out of spiritual weakness and fear too (2Cor.12:7-10; Heb.12:2-3). There is no three-strike rule for forgiveness for committed Christians.

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