Hardened By The Deceitfulness of Sin

Hebrews 3:13, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” 

When Ravi Zacharias died of cancer in May, 2020, at age 74, he was one of the most revered evangelists in the United States. Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service in Atlanta, calling him, “a man of faith who could rightly handle the word of truth like few others in our time” and comparing him to Billy Graham and C.S. Lewis.

Personally, I was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Ravi. For years I had been blessed and better equipped to give reason for the hope we have in Christ because of Ravi’s ministry. Over those many years, I read his books, listened to his lectures, and watched his debates with unbelievers, with enthusiasm, enjoyment and edification.   

Then several months after Ravi’s death, the magazine Christianity Today reported on allegations that he had groped and masturbated in front of several women who worked at two day spas he co-owned near his ministry’s headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga. After initially denying those claims and hiring the Southeastern law firm, Miller & Martin, RZIM went public a couple of weeks ago, declaring that accounts of sexual misconduct by Ravi Zacharias were true.

“We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but whose identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation,” the ministry’s board of directors said in a statement accompanying the report. “We are devastated by what the investigation has shown and are filled with sorrow for the women who were hurt by this terrible abuse.”

One massage therapist “reported details of many encounters over a period of years that she described as rape,” the report says. She said Mr. Zacharias talked with her about topics including her faith and her finances, and she came to think of him as a “father figure.” After he arranged for his ministry to provide her with financial support, however, he demanded sex, according to the report. Often after their sexual encounters, Ravi would take her hand and pray, thanking God for the special blessing she was to him! She said he warned her, “never to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the ‘millions of souls’ whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.”

The law firm also found a pattern of intimate text and email-based relationships with women. In reviewing his electronic devices, they found the phone numbers of more than 200 massage therapists and more than 200 selfies, some of them nudes, from much younger women.

Ravi Zacharias made this mind-boggling statement in 2017: “In 45 years of marriage, I have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.”

Realizing that one of my heroes of the faith had been living a duplicitous, “Dr. Jekyll – Mr. Hyde type of life, I have asked myself and the Lord so many questions. How can this be? Was Ravi truly born again? When and how did this begin? Does this mean that I should discard all his books and never watch another one of his videos on the internet? When I begin to get some clarity from the Lord, the most shocking thing was to be reminded by the Lord that I, or any other believer, at any age, was capable of the same sins (even at my age, 73). Remember, Ravi was 74 when he died! 

I am convinced Ravi, over a long period of time, was slowly deceived by sin and hardened by continued involvement with it.

The first work of Satan was in the capacity of a deceiver. The first sin was because of deception. Satan, working upon and innocent women's highest and purest desires, uses the promise of something good to blind her to the consequences of disobedience. Pay close attention: Goodness is no guarantee against deception!

Being deceived is much like being asleep. For example: (1) You don't know that you've been asleep until you awaken. (2) You do things in your dreams that you would never do if you were awake. (3) You don't like the sound of the alarm because sleep feels so good. (4) If it's not the proper place and time to sleep, you deny it. People with addictive behaviors i.e. alcoholics, anorexics, sex offenders, all deny having a problem. Lying is the primary defense mechanism of the deceived.

No Spiritual Accomplishments of Yesterday Can Protect us from Serious Defeat Tomorrow!

Great successes, international fame, profound experiences with the Lord in the past, etc., cannot protect us from serious deception and defeat in the future. 

Times of success should always put us only double guard duty to detect the subtle and subversive attacks of the enemy of our souls. The fuller the cup of success, the steadier the hand required to hold it.

The slippery slope into the grasp of the deceitfulness of sin usually begins with one sin being allowed which prepares for another. Every act of sin confirms the habit.

When sin is denied it dulls the conscience and the process of being “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” begins (Hebs 3:13). Sin defies and deceives the human conscience, and thereby hardens the human heart. A sin-hardened heart grows ever more susceptible to temptation, pride, and the feeling that because of our service to God, we’re exempt from the deception and devastation sin produces. Unconfessed sin therefore becomes a cycle that desensitizes and corrupts the conscience and drags people deeper and deeper into bondage.

Sin will wind itself into our understandings to darken them, into our judgments to pervert them, into our wills to poison them, into our affections to disorder them, into our consciences to corrupt them, and into our lives to debase them.

Repenting is Our Only Source for Mercy!

  1. We Must Turn from our folly. Accept the blame. Don't blame the devil or other people. Don't be like the fellow who killed his parents and then tried to get off light on the premise that he was a poor orphan.
  2. Take the fall. Repentance means that I see that I'm headed for a disaster and rather than stubbornly riding it out to the very end where it may prove fatal, I willingly take the fall and cast myself upon the mercy of the Lord.

Many years ago there was a TV program titled, The Wide World of Sports. Every week the show’s introductory statement was, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Then there was a film clip of a man falling down a ski jump and off onto the snow on the side of the slope. It looked horribly painful, if not fatal. What the viewers didn't know was that this man chose to fall rather than finish the jump. Why? He explained later that the jump surface had become too fast, and midway down the ramp he realized that if he continued the jump, he would land on the level ground, beyond the safe sloping landing area, which could have killed him. As it was, the skier suffered no more than a bad headache from deliberately taking the fall.

Commenting on the skier’s decision to take the fall, Dutch Sheets adds, "The man found repentance. Speeding down the jump, he received a revelation, bringing new understanding, and changed his direction. He decided the change, despite its appearance and embarrassment, was better than a fatal landing."

If only Ravi Zacharias had seen the terrible fruit of his sinful choices and taken the fall, things would have been different. Sure, there would have been hurts, humiliation, castigations, loss of integrity, lawsuits, etc. but many of the millions who loved him and had benefited immensely from his ministry, would have forgiven him, and at least some of the tattered legacy of his life and labors would have survived. But now, it’s totally and irrevocably shattered. Beware lest we become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin!