Many of us were shocked and saddened by the recent revelation of Ravi Zacharias’ sexual misconduct. Nonetheless, our first reaction should be one of self-reflection and not condemnation. Each time a prominent Christian leader falls from grace, it should also serve as a warning for us. I shared the following reflections at our recent Cru staff meeting.
What is God’s call for us as His people?
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” – Ephesians 5:3
“…to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24
- We are called to be holy and set apart for Him to pursue purity, integrity, and righteousness. We are to continually put off our old sinful selves to put on our new selves in Christ as His image-bearers.
What is our heart condition regarding sin?
- The heart is deceitful above all else (Jeremiah 17:9), especially when it pertains to sin. We may look like we are walking closely with the Lord on the outside, while harbouring evil/lustful thoughts.
- We are God’s redeemed people, yet our hearts remain sinful and we have the propensity to sin (Proverbs 20:9; Matthew 15:19) because of our fallen humanity. While God’s power works in us, we must not underestimate sin’s presence and power in our lives.
- Spiritual forces are at work and the devil prowls around like a roaring lion waiting to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). We become “soft targets” when our guards are down, or when we give the devil a foothold into our lives due to our compromises.
- We deceive ourselves when we think we can get away with sin. Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Sin is a grievous and serious matter in God’s eyes. We must not trivialise it by rationalising and justifying our sins.
How then can we protect ourselves from the onslaught of temptation and set ourselves apart for Him?
- Guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Pay attention to the condition of our hearts – the darkness and deception in our hearts. Allow the Holy Spirit (Proverbs 20:27) to constantly search our hearts in our quiet moments with God.
- Hide God’s Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:9-11). When we seek God with our hearts and hold firmly to His word, we have an added shield of protection when we are confronted with the temptation to sin.
- Pay attention to the small deviations – “a little, a little, a little…” (Proverbs 24:30-34). Small and seemingly insignificant compromises can lead to a huge departure from God’s will and ways, thereby leading to a major fall. The inattention to the ruins and cracks in our lives can lead to shocking outcomes.
- Think of the consequences of sin (James 1:15b). Sin exacts a huge price, not only in our lives, but also on those who love us dearly. And as believers, we dishonour our Lord’s name and the church when we fall into sin.
- Understand how vulnerable we are, and rely on God’s sustaining grace (Proverbs 16:18). No one is exempt, and it would not be wise to think that we are able to overcome temptations by our power. Pride goes before a fall and God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
- Develop the fear and love of God (Job 31:23). The fear of God’s discipline ought to discourage us from sinning, and God’s love and His splendour compels us towards deeper trust in God and obedience (2 Corinthians 5:14a).
- Seek accountability in a community of believers (James 5:16a). Ask hard questions in our accountability groups. The onus is on us to reveal and confess our struggles and tendencies, and seek help and prayers within a safe same-sex accountability group.
God calls us to live a life of holiness (1 Peter 1:16). In our battle against sin and to pursue holiness, let us come before the Lord in daily surrender and with reverential fear of Him.