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Perhaps by now you feel reasonably comfortable about witnessing using the Law to bring the knowledge of sin. You know how to present the cross and the necessity of repentance toward God and faith in Jesus—but then what? Is it valid to “close the sale” (as modern evangelism often puts it)? Should you suddenly revert back to the old, “Would you like me to lead you in a sinner’s prayer right now?” Or should we just leave the person in the hands of a faithful Creator?

This understanding comes by the Law (Romans 7:7) in the hand of the Spirit, who will “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8)

This is why we must be careful to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work and not rush in where angels fear to tread. Praying a sinner’s prayer with someone who isn’t genuinely repentant may leave you with a stillborn on your hands. Therefore, rather than lead him in a prayer of repentance, it is wise to encourage him to pray himself.

If a person is genuinely repentant (he has sorrow of heart and his mouth is stopped from self-justification), he should pray himself; his words aren’t as important as the presence of “godly sorrow.”

The sinner should be told to repent—to confess and forsake his sins. He could do this as a whispered prayer, then you could pray for him. Tell him, “Quietly confess your sins to God, asking Him to forgive you, then put your trust in Jesus in the same way you would put on a parachute to save you. You wouldn’t just believe in it; you would put it on—entrusting your life to it. After you have done that, I will pray for you and give you some literature to help you.” If he’s not sure what to say, perhaps David’s prayer of repentance (Psalm 51) could be used as a model, but his own words are more desirable.

Before you leave this place, breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon Thy name...Lord, I am guilty, I deserve Thy wrath. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to do of Thy good pleasure

Thou alone hast power, I know To save a wretch like me; To whom, or whither should I go If I should run from Thee?

But I now do from my very soul call upon Thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon Thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of Thy dear Son...Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus’ sake.”

“There are many who speak only of the forgiveness of sin, but who say little or nothing about repentance. If there is nevertheless no forgiveness of sins without repentance, so also forgiveness of sins cannot be understood without repentance. Therefore, if forgiveness of sins is preached without repentance, it follows that the people imagine they have already received the forgiveness of sins, and thereby they become cocksure and fearless, which is then greater error and sin than all the error that preceded our time.”
MELANCHTHON

“What should I say to someone who acknowledges his sins, but says, ‘I just hope God is forgiving’?”

This person could be referred to as “awakened, but not alarmed.” Explain that God is forgiving—but only to those who repent of their sins. Ask him, “If you died right now, where would you go?” If he says, “Hell,” ask if that concerns him. If it does concern him, ask, “What are you going to do?” Then tell him that God commands him to repent and trust the Savior. If it doesn’t concern him, speak of the value of his life, the threat of eternal damnation, and the biblical description of hell. Caution him that he doesn’t have the promise of tomorrow, and plead with him to come to his senses.


Some people insist “repentance” is an old-fashioned word that the world cannot understand. “Sin” is another word that falls into that category. However, we must carefully check our motives for avoiding their use. Do we want to substitute different words to help the world understand, or do we simply want to shake off the reproach that comes with their use? If the world cannot comprehend spiritual words, then we should explain their meanings. Sin is transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4), and repentance means to turn from sin

to repent means to confess sin and forsake it—to agree with God that it is wrong and to turn and go in the opposite direction. An old soldier once summed up repentance this way: “God said, ‘Attention! About turn! Quick march!’”

the Bible makes it clear that God is holy and man is sinful, and that sin makes a separation between the two (Isaiah 59:1,2)

We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and until we forsake them through repentance, we cannot be made alive in Christ. he Scriptures speak of “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). We must turn from sin to the Savior. This is why Paul preached “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21)

If belief is all that is necessary for salvation, then the logical conclusion is that one need never repent. However, the Bible tells us that a false convert “believes” and yet is not saved (Luke 8:13); he remains a “worker of iniquity.”

“He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them [repents] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Jesus said that there was joy in heaven over one sinner who “repents” (Luke 15:1. If there is no repentance, there is no joy because there is no salvation.

If repentance wasn’t necessary for salvation, why then did Jesus command that repentance be preached to all nations (Luke 24:47)? When He sent out His disciples two by two, they “preached that men should repent” (Mark 6:12).

The necessity of repentance underscores the importance of going through the Law with a sinner. If a man doesn’t know what sin is, how can he repent? Any “repentance” would be merely “horizontal repentance.” He’s responding to the Savior because he’s lied to men, he’s stolen from

men, etc. But when David sinned with Bathsheba, he didn’t say, “I’ve sinned against man.” He said to God, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4)

I would think it a greater happiness to gain one soul to Christ than mountains of silver and gold to myself.”
MATTHEW HENRY

Many people do similar things. They may steal from their employer or cheat on their taxes, then give to a charity or spend Thanksgiving helping at a soup kitchen. They think they are balancing the scales: they have done bad, and now they are doing good. However, the Bible reveals that the motive of guilty sinners is one of guilt (see Hebrews 9:14). They are attempting to bribe the Judge of the Universe. The Judge in this case will not be corrupted. He must punish all sinners. Good works cannot earn mercy; it comes purely by the grace of God. He will dismiss our iniquity only on the grounds of our faith in Jesus.

It seems minor compared to adultery, theft, or rape. However, before a man steals, he covets. Before he rapes or commits adultery, he covets. Covetousness is the spark that sets off the fuse of sin

Whether we long for an-other’s house, car, income, or lifestyle, our covetousness reveals a lack of gratitude for what God has already given us.

“be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

He will dismiss our iniquity only on the grounds of our faith in Jesus.

Learn to pray along with the psalmist, “Incline my heart unto your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity . . .” (Psalm 119:36,37).

As long as a person thinks he is right he is going to be incomprehensibly proud and presumptuous. He is going to hate God, despise His grace and mercy, and ignore the promises in Christ. The gospel of free forgiveness of sins though Christ will never appeal to the self-righteous.

This monster of self-righteousness, this stiff-necked beast, needs an axe. And that is what the Law is, a big axe. Accordingly the proper use and function of the Law is to threaten until the conscience is scared stiff.

What if someone says they’ve never lied, stolen, lusted, blasphemed—if they deny having any sin at all?”

Ask the person if he has kept the First of the Ten Commandments. Has he always loved God above all else—with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:3? If he says that he has, gently say, “The Bible says that ‘there is none that seeks after God’ (Romans 3:11). Nobody (except Jesus Christ) has kept the First of the Ten Commandments. One of you is lying—either you or God—and the Bible says that it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2).

Should a Christian ever tell a lie? There are times when we may find ourselves in the difficult position of realizing that telling the truth may have dire repercussions. For example, you are asked by a Nazi if you are hiding any Jews in your home. Should you tell him there are two under your bed? To do so would result in their sure death. Your choice is to lie and save lives, or tell the truth and be a party to murder. Another example is putting “tourist” rather than “Bible smuggler” on your visa into China, or not telling the police in a persecuted country the names of other members of your underground church. Perhaps the answer is that it is the motive that matters. However, the issue depends on the conscience of each individual.

The dictionary defines a lie as a false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood; something intended to deceive or give a wrong impression. People often claim that they have told only a “white lie.” But there is no difference between a white lie, a half-truth, a fib, or an exaggeration. All are lies in the sight of God. How many murders does one have to commit to be a murderer? Just one. In the same way, if they have told even one lie, no matter what color or size, that makes them a liar.

The Ninth Commandment requires the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. God is a God of truth and His Law demands absolute honesty from the heart. Yet the human heart is deceitful above all things. It has been well said that taking the easy path is what makes rivers and men crooked.

Most people don’t think that God considers theft to be theft until the value of what is taken impresses Him. However, if I open your wallet and take just one dollar, I’m a thief, and the Bible says that thieves will not enter the kingdom of God. What would be worth stealing for the loss of your soul? Jesus asked, “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Theft comes easily to us because our spiritual father is a thief. He came to steal, kill, and destroy, and his will we willingly do . . . and love it.

If a man is hungry, he should beg before he steals.

(Romans 3:19). Show him that the only way to escape the terrible consequences of his sin is the Door of the Savior. Let the hurricane of the wrath of the Law of God blow far from him the scanty leaves of self-righteous-ness. Have him admit his transgression by name—that he is a thief. Then point to (and have him read) 1 Corinthians 6:9,10.

Charles Finney said, “This Law, then, should be arrayed in all its majesty against selfishness and enmity of the sinner. All men know that they have sinned, but all are not convicted of the guilt and ill dessert of sin. But without this they cannot understand or appreciate the gospel method of salvation. Away with this milk-and-water preaching of a love of Christ that has no holiness or moral discrimination in it. Away with preaching a love of God that is not angry with sinners every day.”

6 months ago

Most people don’t think that God considers theft to be theft until the value of what is taken impresses Him. However, if I open your wallet and take just one dollar, I’m a thief, and the Bible says that thieves will not enter the kingdom of God. What would be worth stealing for the loss of your soul? Jesus asked, “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Theft comes easily to us because our spiritual father is a thief. He came to steal, kill, and destroy, and his will we willingly do . . . and love it.

If a man is hungry, he should beg before he steals.

(Romans 3:19). Show him that the only way to escape the terrible consequences of his sin is the Door of the Savior. Let the hurricane of the wrath of the Law of God blow far from him the scanty leaves of self-righteous-ness. Have him admit his transgression by name—that he is a thief. Then point to (and have him read) 1 Corinthians 6:9,10.

Charles Finney said, “This Law, then, should be arrayed in all its majesty against selfishness and enmity of the sinner. All men know that they have sinned, but all are not convicted of the guilt and ill dessert of sin. But without this they cannot understand or appreciate the gospel method of salvation. Away with this milk-and-water preaching of a love of Christ that has no holiness or moral discrimination in it. Away with preaching a love of God that is not angry with sinners every day.”

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  • Discussing the reasons for our Christian beliefs, and giving a defense (apologia) for the hope within us. 1 Peter 3:15