A visitor kindly left a comment on one of my previous posts. Some good points were raised and I thought an article would be more appropriate than a quick reply. My response wasn’t going to be short enough for a simple comment and the subject matter wasn’t directly related to that article. So, here we are.
The points raised were:
1. How does one explain Romans 6:1-2?
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?”
In those two verses, Paul emphasizes the fact that true repentance always results in either the cessation of sin or at least the hindering of the full expression of sin. The pattern the New Testament holds before us is one of progressive righteousness in the life of the true believer, not unrelenting “living” in sin.
If Ravi did repent, as you say, “… at many stages of his life, publicly and privately”, then why did the pattern of sin go on unabated throughout his life? Ravi not only persisted in his sin but went to great lengths to finance it and hide it from those he should have been accountable.
2. Bearing that in mind isn’t the best description of Ravi Zacharias found in Jude 1:4
“For certain men have crept in among you unnoticed – ungodly ones who were designated long ago for condemnation. They turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality…”?
Harsh words but fair to bring up. Let’s deal with the first of these two items today.
Dear kind reader,
Thank you for your comments and for the points you raised.
Repentance Does Not Make One Perfect
You bring up an incredibly important passage. One which no believer should ever ignore or compromise on. Just because God gives grace despite our frailty does not mean that we go on sinning so that grace may abound. In the words of the apostle, “May it never be!”
What we need to be careful of here, though, is that repentance does not make one perfect. If that were the case, I’m afraid none of us has really repented. I include the apostle Paul in this who in Romans 7 says, as I’m sure you well know,
“For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. However, if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, that the Law is good. But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.
For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner person, but I see a different law in the parts of my body waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, the law which is in my body’s parts.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.“Romans 7:15-25 NASB
So then, I ask you, did Paul the Apostle go to Heaven?
It is very clear then that if there truly were a “pattern of sin” in Ravi’s life, as you say, we ought not automatically assume it is because he never repented but perhaps it was the flesh winning over the spirit.
As for repentance, at which point in a person’s life does God’s patience run out? At which point does God close the door of repentance? Would a moment before death suffice?
Repentance Does Not Have a Time Limit
In Judges, we read the story of a man who rejected God. In return, God took His blessing from him. The exact words are, “the Lord had departed from him” – Judges 16:20.
Of course, I’m talking of Samson.
Samson’s death came by his own hands and yet moments before that, he prays to the Lord a prayer that God would only answer if repentance were truly genuine. “Lord God, please remember me...” – Judges 16:28.
If God remembered Samson even then, who are we to limit God’s patience and grace?
That is not to say that we take grace for granted. Again, in the words of Paul, “May it never be!” Just as John says in his first epistle, we ought to walk in the Light as God Himself in in the Light. However, John also says in the same chapter, if we say we do not sin, or have not sinned, we call God a liar.
What, then, can the righteous do?
I will continue in part two.
I encourage you to read a few posts from Nathanael Zacharias at Defending Ravi. Take a second opinion.