In the last few days, we have read and heard about one of the greatest Christian scandals of our time. Some shocking revelations about Ravi Zachariahs, the Ravi Zachariahs ministers who is now deceased, have come out months after his death. It is now in the public domain that he had, allegedly in private, sexually abused ladies. These revelations have shocked the Christians circles and, more so, the apologetics fraternity. The renowned author of over forty books, public speaker and Christian apologist, passed on May 19, 2020, after a long struggle with prostate cancer.
The purpose of this article is not to defend or condemn Ravi, but in my opinion, to high-light how Christians should respond whenever such revelations about a Christian comes out. It is worth noting on the onset that as Christians, we are called to call out and rebuke such sins both in private and in public. The difference is that when we endeavour to call out such sins from our brothers and, more so, our leaders, we are to do so in love, with grace and with the aim of restoring them.
Secondly, to the ladies who were violated, we have the responsibility to care for them with tenderness and show love and grace to encourage their trust in the perfect redeemer Jesus Christ. Thirdly it is also worth noting that this is not in isolation. There are Christian men over the years who have failed in various ways, especially when it comes to sexual sins.
Presence of Sin
It is vital to remind Christians that by grace, God has saved us through faith in Christ from the judicial punishment of sin, the power that sin had us under, and are being saved from the pleasure of sin and eventually when we join Christ in heaven we will be saved entirely from the presence of sin (Ephesians 2:1-8). Since we are here on earth, we are not under the power of sin, and Christ atoned for the punishment of sin (Romans 3:23-24). We are yet being saved from the pleasures of sin (1 Corinthians 1:18) and the very presence of it so long as we are on this side of eternity. That is why Christ prays for us and ask God to keep us here in his name (John 17:11).
For this very reason, the Christian will, at times, sin. The Lord taught us to pray that God may not lead us into temptation (Matt 6:9-13). John warns us not to say that we (Christians) are without sin. If we say so, we make God a liar, and the truth is not with us (1 John 1:8). The more you have the truth-Jesus (John 14:6), the more you know how sinful you are, and the more you discover sins in you (Romans 7:7). How should we then respond when a Christin falls into sin?
Should its shock and shake us when a believer falls into sin? NO! Since we know that they are still in the presence of sin. However, he should be shocked and shaken when he or she professes he is a believer and does nothing about his sin. Not that whatever s/he does will earn them any favour from God. His action will tell us if he is truly born of the spirit (Galatians 5:6). Ravi is not alive, and I don’t know him in person. Judging from the relieved stories of his sexual abuse and misconduct, it seems he had hidden this sin for far too long. My question is, didn’t he have an accountability system?
Does Sin Discredit Truth?
Should we disregard all that he wrote and taught since his sin is now in public? It is important to know that any spirit must be tested (1 John 4:1-6). Especially when it comes to knowing if someone’s teachings are biblical, we should be of noble character as the Bereans and check that teaching by the scriptures and measure if what was taught agrees with it (Act 17:11). Teachings are judged by the scriptures (1 Corinthians 14:32-34). King David wrote a lot of psalms before committing adultery. That sin didn’t discredit all that he taught before the sin. Neither did it change what Judas, together with the other disciple, when Jesus sent them out to teach (Luke 10).
That doesn’t mean that our lives ought not to reflect what we say. On the contrary, we must endeavour to beat our bodies to be qualified (1 Corinthians 9:26-27). Let us remember at all time that you can teach, cast out demons and even do wonders and live a life perceived as non-scandalous, but find out at the end Jesus telling you to depart from me you worker of lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).
Faith Alone Saves
Therefore, does it mean that Ravi or such a leader or Christian is cast out of God’s presence because of his private sins? There is too great a temptation to say who knows simply? I am not God, am I? It will do us a lot of good to put it forward that, unlike other religions, Christianity is the only one that salvation from God’s wrath is apart from the works of man, but by the sovereign grace of God himself. God made Christ to be the Just (fulfilled all the legal requirement for salvation) and the justifier of all who has faith in him (Romans 3:21-26). The thief on the cross had no time to live a righteous life. He believed in Jesus, and despite his sins, Jesus assured him that he would be with him in his kingdom that day (Luke 23:39-49). Did Ravi or any such leader or Christian believe in God?
How do we know when someone believes in God? The profession of faith is part of knowing that someone is a believer of Christ. But to faith, one has to add good works. No one on earth will achieve moral perfection, but there is deliberate diligence striving to be more like Christ (James 2:14-26). It should be clearly seen that you are leaving the work of the flesh and now doing your best to live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18-25). Jesus said that the people will know you are his followers if you love one another (John 13:35). The commandment of God is that we believe in the Name of his Son and love one another (1 John 3:22-23).
It is our place to judge believers and to do so when they are alive (1 Corinthians 6:21-3). Even the human courts will not bring a criminal charge against a deceased person since they are not there to defend themselves regardless of the weight of evidence against them in all matters of justice. Secondly, we should learn that we ought to have a functional and robust accountability system. This can never be overemphasised. You have to, for the sake of your soul and the testimony of the Gospel you hold dear, keep good friends who you’ll always feel safe to open to about your ugliest of struggles, for they will save you like one who is snatching you out of the fire (Jude 23).
With this regard, I would love to say. There is never a better opportunity for believers to remember that firstly, those holy teachings of scripture that we are saved by God’s grace alone, shown to us in the power of the word of God alone (BIBLE) through faith alone, in Christ alone for the glory of God alone, when one falls in sin. His confidence in self-righteousness is diminished, and he only puts his confidence in Christ, who is the one who can keep him from falling and present him without blemish with exceeding joy before his glorious presence (Jude 24).
Lastly, more than ever, we should hold the fallen believer, and like solders in battke would hold their wounded comrade. We are in the battle, brother and sisters. It is no time to add insult to the wound but to care for the wounded and help them heal and move on from their sin. We should mourn over his sins as if it is our very own (Matthew 5:4). We should rebuke them in love and grace, for that’s the only way they will see victory over sin. We are all men, and the best of men are men at best. When those in leadership fail, it should remind us that they too are men and the faith that gave them salvation is the same and is equal to that which we have (2 Peter 1:1).