Ravi Zacharias: when sin destroys a legacy

Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries
Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

“Be sure your sins will find you.”

This verse, found in the Old Testament in the book of Numbers, is part of Moses’ conversation with the leaders of two of Israel’s tribes who decided to settle before crossing the Jordan in their conquest of Canaan, the Promised Land. The other tribes were getting ready to move into the new territory, but two tribes decided not to join them. As a compromise, they vowed to fight side by side with the remaining tribes and help them conquer Canaan.

Their proposal was fair and generous. Moses thus granted their request, trusting that they would fulfill their promise, and blessed their desire to settle on that side of the Jordan. But with the blessing, he warns them of the dangers of breaking their vow: “If you fail, you sin against the Lord, and not against your brethren only, and be sure your sin will find you out (…)”

Moses’ words in the context were meant as a warning against breaking a promise made before God, but the principle certainly applies to the secret lives that many people live. In the New Testament, Jesus addressed the issue in one of his parables:

“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

Through the years, we have witnessed the rise and fall of many influential spiritual leaders, eventually exposed by the depth of their sins. From church leaders caught in adultery to cases of sexual abuse, to infamous claims of financial fraud, men and women of apparent irreproachable conduct managed to live a lie for many years. They continued gracing their pulpits or proudly serving their church while living a double life. They lift their hands high in praise to a God who has long turned his face from them because of their counterfeit faith and unrepentant deception.

In the past several months, we have witnessed it happen again, as the secret life of one of the greatest apologists of all times, Ravi Zacharias, was exposed in sordid details. In 2017, an allegation of sexual misconduct by a Canadian woman, Lori Anne Thompson, ended in Zacharias suing Thompson and her husband for racketeering. For the most part, the public buried the subject and believed the legendary Christian leader.

In the meantime, investigations into the accusations continued after Zacharias’ death in May 2020, as more witnesses came forward, exposing Zacharias’ double life. Last week, the Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin, hired by RZIM, Zacharias’ ministry, released its final report of the independent investigation conducted into the leader’s behavior.

The findings are sickening. Zacharias went to the grave honored as a man of great faith and exemplary behavior. Still, the investigations unveiled a web of deceitful conduct, confirming the victims’ allegations that the leader had engaged in serious acts of sexual misconduct, including “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape.”

When he died in May, the Christian world celebrated his legacy with deference and gratitude. I wrote a column for this paper in his honor, as did many other writers worldwide. We did not know the truth about his dark side, hidden behind his powerful and enlightening messages.

But God knew the truth, and Zacharias should have known better: His sin indeed found him, just as God promises in his word. And even though he is not here to face the victims, family, and those who looked up to him for spiritual direction, make no mistake, he will certainly answer for every bit of evil he has done. And the judgment will be more somber than any lawsuit on earth.

Ravi Zacharias’ life story is heartbreaking and eye-opening. Even though the messages he preached and his teachings remain relevant, inspiring, and filled with truth, his legacy is blemished beyond repair. The irrevocable pain that he caused victims and his family will forever rest on his shoulder. And his life’s work, ever-relevant as it still is, will forever bear the stain of his sin.

What a tragedy! May we ponder this sad story as an example to encourage us to repent of our sins, lest pleasure and disregard of our actions’ consequences destroy the legacy we work so hard to build. May we remember that everything done in darkness will undoubtedly be revealed and come to light. It’s just a matter of time.

Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger and international speaker. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com to learn about her speaking ministry, Bible studies and book. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com

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