US pastor and author, John Piper, has spoken for the first time about the late apologist Ravi Zacharias' scandal.
Speaking on his weekly podcast, 'Ask Pastor John', he said he had been slow to talk about it because he wanted to be fully informed.
"One of the reasons is wanting to know everything I should know, and the other is that I just cannot imagine the sorrow that family members and very close associates must feel. And for people to publicly assess and criticize a husband, a father, a very long-term friend must be horrible," Piper said on his podcast.
Earlier this year, an investigation carried out by law firm Miller & Martin confirmed that Ravi Zacharias had engaged in "sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape" with more than a dozen female spa workers.
Before specifically talking about Zacharias, Piper referred to Judas, Demas and Hymenaeus as examples of characters in the Bible who had spread the gospel during a season of their life but then "made shipwreck of their lives - indeed, their faith."
"Well, what happened? They did not hold faith in a good conscience," Piper said. "Over time, they began to do things for which their consciences condemned them. But instead of repenting, they found ways to dull their conscience, until their conscience was so seared that they could justify behaviours that were simply appalling. A double life, lived contrary to the Christian conscience, is a shipwreck about to happen."
Piper continued by drawing three lessons from Judas, Demas and Hymenaeus: "Soul-saving, Christ-exalting truth may be spoken by hypocrites," "Forsaking a good conscience is prelude to moral disaster, and "the amassing of money and the pursuit of lavish lifestyles in ministry are the alarm bells of the love of this age."
Referring to the Ravi Zacharias' scandal, Piper said the late apologist's "manipulation of people" was a consequence of "untethered sympathy" and added that one of the take-away lessons from the scandal was to remember that when giving sympathy "it needs to be tethered to the truth" so that when it is given unrestrainedly "the truth calls for it and is withheld when the truth clashes with it".
Piper continued: "How did Ravi manipulate people into sinfully sending him nude pictures? How did he manipulate people into sinfully providing him with sexual stimulation? He did it by demanding untethered sympathy."
"He portrayed himself as an embattled, burdened, wounded warrior in the righteous cause of the gospel. And ironically, he turned his position of power into a form of neediness and woundedness, and then he tried to coerce untethered sympathy under the guise of calling for "kingdom therapy for the wounded warrior."
He concluded his podcast by warning about lavish style among faith leaders and encouraged those who came to know Jesus through Zacharia's work.
"I think the last thing I would say to those who came to Christ under Ravi's ministry, or who had their faith mightily strengthened by what he taught, is this: Don't let the imperfections and failures of men turn you away from the perfections and the triumphs of Christ, who will never, never fail you."