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Surge Summary: The exposure of serious sin issues in the life of renowned Christian apologist/preacher Ravi Zacharias is sending many believers reeling. What lessons can be drawn from this bewildering and painful situation?
7) Let’s not silence the victims because we want to protect a ministry. It is true that there are many false accusers out there. It is true that there are embittered people who want to bring ministries and leaders down. They are troublemakers and they need to be exposed.
There are also self-deceived people who live in a world of fantasy and imagination, claiming that things happened that never, in fact, did. They should not be allowed to harm the good name of a godly leader. Neither should unfounded, baseless rumors be given any credibility or credence.
But there are also genuine victims, as in the many women against whom Ravi sinned. They must be listened to, no matter what the implications might be. To think that the Lord is more concerned with the success of a ministry than with the wounded person who has been crushed by that ministry is to not know Him at all.
8) To whom much is given, much is required. To the level of gifting or notoriety we have, to that extent are we accountable. All the more does this hold true for those doing public ministry, since we can bring tremendous honor or tremendous reproach to the name of the Lord.
This is a sobering principle for any of us with public ministries or large followings. May we walk worthy of the high calling, may we be quick to deal with sin in our lives, may we practice what we preach, and may we not bring reproach to the name of the Lord or hurt His precious flock.
I would rather die than dishonor Jesus. Yet I also realize that no believer or leader ever intentionally sets out on a course to dishonor His name. That means that we all need to be gripped by a holy fear of the Lord, one that would grant us quick repentance when and if we stray.
9) Sin is never worth it. Ever. The payback is never worth the pleasure, no matter how good the feeling or how powerful the release or how gratifying the moment. Sin always leaves lasting regret. Always.
I have preached on this theme countless times – always preaching to myself as well – focusing on one, key Hebrew word: acharit (pronounced ah-kha-reet; you can listen to the message here). It literally means that which comes after, the final end, and it is found repeatedly in Proverbs.
The message is simple and clear: In the acharit, sin doesn’t pay. It will haunt us in this life and drag us down once we’re gone – unless we repent and make things right.
That’s why Proverbs states, “Listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise in your acharit” – meaning, wise in your final end (Proverbs 19:20).
None of us are exempt from sin and temptation, and it is those who think they stand who must take heed lest they fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).
My wife, Nancy, sent me these thoughts as I was writing this today: Think of your children, your grandchildren. See their faces as you dangerously toy with sin. What would this do to them? For fathers…..you are your children’s hero. We must live as if the entire world is watching…. certainly heaven is.
And again, for those who are struggling in a major way, these words of wisdom: Face your sin and GET HELP.
God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
10) Everything flows out of our personal relationship with the Lord. Nancy also shared these relevant thoughts with me: Take heed lest you fall! Apart from Me, Jesus said, you can do NOTHING…you can’t even live a holy life. We must have a living relationship with the Son of God. It is easy to teach the Word without the Spirit (look at the Pharisees). For something like this to take place, we have lost connection with the Head.
Everything in our lives is a direct result of our relationship to the Lord. Is it real, or are we going through the motions? That is a dangerous place in which to remain. Yes there can be times of dryness, but we must push on and go forward. We must have safeguards especially because of the world we live in.
Don’t fool yourself. “A little bit of sin can spoil a whole life” (Smith Wigglesworth). We don’t really get away with anything. If we dabble with sin long enough, it will come back to bite us and even destroy us, as well as cause grief and harm to those around us.
It is a life that has strayed from God that gets plunged into a base and secret life. There is no other way for this to happen. It does not just appear in one day but is a slow methodical process of yielding to our flesh and then sin. Which direction is your life going? Are you moving forward in God? We MUST be moving forward.
There will be temptations (Jesus was tempted), but God gives us a way of escape if we truly want it (a leader, a friend, the Word, safeguards etc.). If there is constant overwhelming temptation, we are in a bad place and should get help from a godly, trusted leader.
There is an old saying that either sin will keep you from prayer (or, from the Word) or prayer (or the Word) will keep you from sin.
If we are in true, vibrant, daily, vital fellowship with the Lord through His Word and prayer, we will not lead a double life.
11) Don’t become jaded, as if no leaders can be trusted. Again, we make a mistake if we look to a person – any person – in the same way that we look to the Lord. But there are many God-fearing leaders, people of integrity, people who are not living double lives.
In that context, Nancy also wrote this: It is right and correct to expect our leaders to live holy lives…to live in purity and to be godly examples…ESPECIALLY in their private lives. It should not be the extra holy ones whole live an exemplary life. God expects no less from us. But we cannot do it by mere will. It is only our close relationship with the Lord whom we love that will keep us free from a life of sin.
If there is a ministry you support from a distance, feel free to ask them questions about standards and accountability. Those who are clean are glad to bring relevant information into the light.
If there is a church or ministry you work with locally, do your best to get to know your leaders personally. Spend time with them if you can. Get to know their families. Join them, if invited, on ministry trips. While you will have some disappointments along the way, you will also meet many fine people, people worthy of your respect.
12) A massive apology is owed to those who do not believe our gospel message. If you are reading this as a non-believer – as an atheist or agnostic or member of another faith or as a former Christian – then as a public ministry leader, I want to apologize to you from the heart.
What Ravi did was absolutely inexcusable, and it is no way reflective of our values and beliefs. To the contrary, the whole reason that there is such shock and dismay around the world is because this is so abhorrent to us.
If sexual immorality and hypocrisy were our way of life, there would be no shock at all. Instead, there would be a yawn. But there are no yawns in our midst over this terrible news. Instead, there are tears and sobs and cries of grief and shock.
This is the opposite of who we are in Jesus, the opposite of the standards that He set, the opposite of the way we seek to conduct our lives.
Our God opposes this rather than condones it, and so, to each of you who says, “We expected better of you,” I say in response: You had every reason to expect something better. Please continue to expect higher standards from us. By God’s grace, we will show you that tragic cases like this are the exception to the rule. And even if Ravi’s life was not true, his message about God was true.
The bottom line is that these moral failings are ours and ours alone. They do not reflect in the least on the character of our God.
Instead, it is His light that exposes the darkness. But He doesn’t leave us there. He also sent His Son to die for these very sins. He will have mercy on you if you look to Him as well.
13) Let us live sober lives today in light of the great accounting tomorrow. Paul wrote that all of us, as believers, will give account to God one day (see Romans 14:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10).
He also warned that Satan himself could come like an angel of light. How much more Satan’s servants (see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Jesus also warned about false prophets who were wolves in sheep’s clothing, saying that we would know them by their fruit (see Matthew 7:15-20).
The Lord also said this, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
I truly hope that Ravi made things right with the Lord before he died, and, although I never knew him personally, I believe that he truly wanted to make Jesus known. Tragically, he failed to humble himself and get the help that he needed while he was alive, now bringing tremendous reproach to the name of the Lord, hurting millions in their faith, and leaving a trail of victims behind.
May all of us take stock today of our lives. And may we, with God’s help and grace, redouble our efforts to make Jesus known in all of His beauty and power.
He deserves nothing less than this, and for that, as a leader in the Body of Christ, I say, “Lord, I am so sorry we have done this to You, dishonoring You before a watching world. By Your grace, we will bring you great honor and glory in the days to come, beginning with our own individual repentance where it is needed.
“May Your name be hallowed! May Your kingdom come. May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – even through each of us.”
And let all of God’s people say, “Amen.”
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Originally Posted here.
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Author: Dr. Michael Brown
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