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How ought we respond when we hear that a Christian has fallen into scandalous sin?
It seems very common today to hear of a Christian or Church leader who has sinned in some way, has fallen into financial sin, or has been dishonest in speaking or writing, or has committed great sexual sin, or has been aggressive and blasphemous in some way. Or he has in some other way dishonored the gospel of the Lord Jesus and damaged the church.
When the apostle Paul hears of someone who has stumbled, he burns with indignation (2 Cor. 11:28–29); and it makes him angry at sin, the Devil, and the one who has sinned. When a pastor or church leader falls into sin, a whole church or ministry will be hurting and shocked. When someone like Ravi Zacharias with a wider ministry is snared in scandal, the shockwaves of pain and sadness spread far and wide.
Anger at the sin of others is dangerous and seductive in that it can blind us to our own frailty and sin nature. The sin of another person regardless of their status should humble us under the mighty hand of God, to move us all to repentance for our own sins, to pray for a new realism about the darkness and depravity in our own hearts, to watch ourselves closely lest we too be tempted and fall. “Lead me not into temptation” takes on a whole new clarity when we hear this news.
Sin is desperately deceitful; we can fall into scandalous sin and persuade ourselves it’s okay.
A professing Christian’s fall into scandal and sin is always a shocking thing. But it’s especially shocking when the one who falls is either a senior/respected Christian leader or a young, gifted Christian leader. Pray for them. They are engaged in a noble task with high moral expectations and demands; there is a Devil who prowls around like a roaring lion, desiring to destroy (1 Tim. 3:1–7; 1 Pet. 5:8).
Ravi Zacharias was a faithful servant that brought people to Christ and upheld God's word. We should not be so judgmental or arrogant to think his sins negates any of his teachings. Psalm 146 says put not your trust in princes.
In this age of the Christian celebrity, this warning must be sounded with clarity and frequency. We must never trust ultimately in even the greatest Christian leader. As the psalm goes on to say, even if they don’t let us down in this life, they will eventually die. Even the Christian leader who remains faithful to the end cannot save us. That should be obvious, but somehow in our short sightedness we keep forgetting it.
So this is the take away; devote your life afresh to the gospel. Don’t let this sad reality discourage you or slow your steps, weaken your knees, or lower your spirit, but keep on proclaiming the good news of Jesus, our only Savior.