Saturday, 23 February 2013

What about the “S” word? Do I have to talk about sin when I witness?

If you share the gospel on a regular basis, inevitably the subject of sin should come up in your conversations. That is because Jesus died and took our sin upon himself at Calvary to make a way so that we can spend eternity with Him. It is a subject that we shouldn’t gloss over - and must be covered at some point.

How then do we talk about this vitally important subject in a way that is relevant, understandable and above all means that when you see a person that you have witnessed to before, they don’t want to avoid you like the plague?!

There are ways of explaining the truth that will not offend people which importantly don’t involve watering down the message to get the point across. I teach adults how to communicate effectively with people in a number of ways. Many I have learned from others more experienced than myself, but others by experience – including from making mistakes. These techniques work if you use them, when you include scripture, because that is what convicts hearts.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”(.) Romans 3:23

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

The simple fact is that we all need forgiveness. There is no way of getting around it, because we need to repent and turn away from our sin and thank Jesus, who died in our place, for the grace He shows us.

Over the years I have helped people to witness; it appears that the subject of sin is one area that people particularly struggle with. This can be because of fear of rejection or causing offence. As a result people dance around the subject, often failing to explain adequately that we all have sin in our lives. The undeniable fact is that people are lost without Jesus. They are heading to a place created for Satan and the fallen angels that follow Him. It’s a truth that cannot be swept under the carpet.

Here are some points we must remember:

Forgiveness revolves around love: When we talk about sin, we must communicate the fact that Jesus died for our sins because God loved us so much. Yes - forgiveness of sin is all about LOVE.

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

We must always include ourselves as sinners: We are sinners saved by grace. Praise Him! I always explain that I asked for forgiveness of my sin when I realised the truth. I would then go on to ask questions like “have you ever done things that you know were wrong, like lying, coveting, stealing, hating?” When the person admits the truth I always remark, “That means you are just like me.” I then go on to explain about why we need forgiveness, using myself as an example. Rather than the very direct approach of “You are a sinner”, “You are going to Hell”, “You are condemned”.

If someone has not received Jesus as Lord and asked for forgiveness, then those statements are true.  When you say something like “that makes you like me”, “I realised that I needed forgiveness”, “I realised that because of the things I had done in my life I was headed for a lost eternity”, they will realise that they are in the very same situation. You are telling them the truth using your life as an example.

Key Point: Use yourself as an example, explaining why you needed forgiveness - this will get people to think about their own sin.

Be honest with your answers to questions: If the conversation is going the right way, it is very likely that you will be asked questions like “Are you saying that I am sinner? I have done nothing that bad!”

You could be direct and confrontational and say “Yes”, but doing that (it) can sound very condemnatory. So I explain this way: “That is a question that is often asked. I will answer it honestly and explain why”, then I pause for a second or two, because at that point I have their full attention.

I continue with , “I can only answer your question based on the truth that I now know from scripture. One short passage in Romans 3:23 says that “we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God - that means everyone and it is a fact that can’t be denied”.

I keep talking here and start using the word “You”. Communicators will confirm that the word “You” is one of the most powerful words in verbal and written communication today. Looking directly in the eyes of my listener, I say, “But I have got some really fantastic news for you. God made a way so that all of the wrong things we have ever done in our lives can be washed away. He did that by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for us” I then continue with “He did that because ……………….”

The technique of using yourself as an example is very effective and will get the message across. The requirement is that you of course get talking to people about Jesus.

There will always be times that you will have to be direct and give straight answers to get through to a person heart. The key in both areas is being able to rely on the Holy Spirit. He is the one who will guide you if you are willing to listen to His promptings.