Cut it Off!

Matthew 5:27-30 (CSB) “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

With the confirmed news, and by the way, it is not new news, that Ravi Zacharias had been involved sexually and abusively with so many women and that it was known in 2017 but not believed, I have so many nameless emotions coursing through my soul. 

I hurt for the victims. My goodness. I hurt for Ravi’s family. I feel sad for the gospel and how it will be viewed by naysayers. There is a kernel of anger there too. 

I can’t escape the thought that theological orthodoxy and evangelical conviction does not equal character. 

Being super intelligent and using that for good does not equal righteousness. 

Being a Christian “star” is fool’s gold. 

Also, I feel warned. I feel grace from God in a living warning to make sure I never let myself get to whatever point he got to that allowed him to believe his behavior was suitable and could be covered up. My God. 

Being a good speaker, leader, sharp theologian, or whatever is celebrated in our little sub-culture of evangelical Christianity does not equate to holy character. No, that must be forged in conviction, accountability, and full disclosure through corporate confession of sin.  

John 15 is clear. God, the Vinedresser, will prune his vines to make them more fruitful. 

Even more clear is the command from Jesus, specifically related to adultery and I would argue we can apply it to any besetting sin, to prune off sinful behavior with violence. 

Let me be clear. Jesus is speaking metaphorically not literally. There should not be any one-eyed and/or one-handed people running around because they read Matthew 5:27-30 poorly.

No, Jesus’ point is that we must deal with sin with as much spiritual violence as we can muster. Meaning, that if I need to put my phone down, I need to hand it off to my wife until it has no more power over me. If I need to pass my laptop off to my elders until it is no longer my “god”, then by God I do it. His point is to cut off whatever is causing us to sin because it’s better to be phone-less than to go to hell. Yes, Jesus said that. 

We have to get over the idea that we can keep on with sin as our go-to coping strategy or our go-to idol when we don’t find Jesus to be enough and believe we are Christians. 1 John 3 could not be clearer. 

Christians must kill their sin out of love for Jesus and his people. 

I hear Jesus in Luke 13 saying, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

I don’t believe there is any way to avoid the good Vinedresser’s gracious pruning as that pruning is a divine act of Fatherly love to make us more fruitful, but I can avoid God’s pruning of discipline by obeying his word to cut off sinful things that will kill me. 

So, my primary response to Ravi’s mess is to not condemn him, although I’m disappointed, rather I want to run a solid self-diagnostic and cut off the most minute “thing” that is sin that might rise up and do to me as Ravi’s sin is doing to him, his family and his victims.

Unless I repent, I will likewise turn out like that. 

God won’t let his name be dragged through the mud, and if I’m the one doing the dragging, then I’d better repent or get ready for God to shut me down. 

My response will be to personally mourn this mess as well as my own sin and thus repent. 

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