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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Romans 7:11 - Sin Slew Me

Sin, taking occasion - Sin, deriving strength from the law, threatening death to the transgressor, deceived me, drew me aside to disobedience, promising me gratification honor, independence, etc., as it promised to Eve; for to her history the apostle evidently alludes, and uses the very same expression, deceived me, εξηπατησε με·.

And by it slew me - Subjected me to that death which the law denounced against transgressors; and rendered me miserable during the course of life itself.  It is well known to scholars that the verb αποκτεινειν signifies not only to slay or kill, but also to make wretched.  Every sinner is not only exposed to death because he has sinned, and must, sooner or later, die; but he is miserable in both body and mind by the influence and the effects of sin. He lives a dying life, or a living death. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

Deceived me - The word used here properly means to lead or seduce from the right way; and then to deceive, solicit to sin, cause to err from the way of virtue, Romans 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 11:3, “The serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety,” 2 Thessalonians 2:3. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

Romans 16:18  Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests.  By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 3:18  Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world's standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. (NLT)

2 Corinthians 11:3  But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. (NLT)

The meaning here seems to be, that his corrupt and rebellious propensities, excited by the Law, led him astray; caused him more and more to sin; practiced a species of deception on him by urging him on headlong, and without deliberation, into aggravated transgression.  In this sense, all sinners are deceived.  Their passions urge them on, deluding them, and leading them further and further from happiness, and involving them, before they are aware, in crime and death.  No being in the universe is more deluded than a sinner in the indulgence of evil passions.  The description of Solomon in a particular case will apply to all, Proverbs 7:21-23. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery.  He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart.  He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life. (NLT)

for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (NASB)

 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.  (KJV)

Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. (NLT)

For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it I died. (NET)

I am often reminded of the frailty of the human heart when I observe Philippians 4:7b "His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (NLT)  Here is an expressed truth!  My heart and mind needs guarding and I am unable to do so!  Why because I am deceived by my own sin.  How will the enemy come and by what means will he attack?  He will come by stealth and subtlety using my own deception against me.  Here we begin to see the treacherous and hopeless path from which we were delivered by the amazing love of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!  The attack will always appeal to our appetite and make a way for the gratification of our lusts.  This of course leads us to death and worse, the misery of our own wretchedness.  Our rebellious inner being's true self with all the unbridled passions provoked by a holy law to demonstrate the truthfulness of its proclamation that I am a sinner.

Romans 7:10 - Monsters from the Id

and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; (NASB)

And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. (KJV)

So I discovered that the law's commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead.  (NLT)

So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death! (NET)

The law continues to demonstrate our true selves.  If we were pure and without a sin nature the law would produce life and happiness.  There is no evil resident in the law.  The wayward inclinations of the sin-sick heart bring forth the transgressions of the law even though we may have the best of intentions to follow its precepts.  The restraints of the law cause to rebel and our the result is death because of sin's reward.  Saved or unsaved, this nature remains as long as there is a pulse in our bodies.  Thus we remain as we have begun fully dependent upon the Lord's Grace to live in a manner worthy of our calling.  This ought to keep us humble as we look upon a world full of people who remain as we once were.

"Paul’s focus in these verses was not on whether the person is regenerate or unregenerate. The power of sin is present in any person who tries to keep the law on his own. (Tyndale concise Bible commentary)

Rom 10:5  For Moses writes that the law's way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its command. (NLT)

Leviticus 18:5  If you obey My decrees and My regulations, you will find life through them. I am the LORD. (NLT)

Ezekiel 20:11  There I gave them My decrees and regulations so they could find life by keeping them. (NLT)

Luke 10:27-28  The man answered, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!" (NLT)

2 Corinthians 3:7  The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses' face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. (NLT)

"The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.  But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.  When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.  Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another." (Galatians 5:17-26, NLT)

Romans 7:09 - The Beast Crouches

He sets himself before us as an example, in whom all men may behold, first what they are by nature before they earnestly think upon the law of God: that is, stupid, and prone to sin and wickedness, without any true sense and feeling of sin, and second what manner of persons they become, when their conscience is reproved by the testimony of the Law, that is, stubborn and more inflamed with the desire for sin than they ever were before. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; (NASB)

For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. (KJV)

At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, (NLT)

And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment sin became alive (NET)

I think Paul is trying to convey here that he lived for a season of his life, or at least I thought he was living, because he was at peace with his conscience.  But then the law provoked the sleeping beast to life and then his conscience became aware of the disease.  The beast that crouches at the door (Genesis 4:7)  We deem ourselves righteous according to our own standards until we meet the righteous standard of the law that then reveals to us this inner nature that rebels with ferocity.

Romans 7:08 - Covetous Desires

Though sin is in us, yet it is not known as sin, neither does it rage in the same way that it rages after the law is known. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. (NASB)

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. (KJV)

But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead. (NET)

But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. (NLT)

The challenge here is to accurately convey the length and breadth of our fallen estate.  We are reprobate in our reaction to a perfect and holy law!  It is because our vile affections have no other avenue but to express vile expressions.  A piteous place to be indeed.  The harder we kick against the goads the more the light of the law illuminates our true character.  The greater our rebellion the darker we become.

But sin - To illustrate the effect of the Law on the mind, the apostle in this verse depicts its influence in exciting to evil desires and purposes. Perhaps nowhere has he evinced more consummate knowledge of the human heart than here. He brings an illustration that might have escaped most persons, but which goes directly to establish his position that the Law is insufficient to promote the salvation of man. Sin here is personified. It means not a real entity; not a physical subsistence; not something independent of the mind, having a separate existence, and lodged in the soul, but it means the corrupt passions, inclinations, and desires of the mind itself. Thus, we say that lust burns, and ambition rages, and envy corrodes the mind, without meaning that lust, ambition, or envy are any independent physical subsistence, but meaning that the mind that is ambitious, or envious, is thus excited.  (Dr. Albert Barnes)

There is no way of coming to that knowledge of sin, which is necessary to repentance, and therefore to peace and pardon, but by trying our hearts and lives by the law. In his own case the apostle would not have known the sinfulness of his thoughts, motives, and actions, but by the law. That perfect standard showed how wrong his heart and life were, proving his sins to be more numerous than he had before thought, but it did not contain any provision of mercy or grace for his relief. He is ignorant of human nature and the perverseness of his own heart, who does not perceive in himself a readiness to fancy there is something desirable in what is out of reach. We may perceive this in our children, though self-love makes us blind to it in ourselves. The more humble and spiritual any Christian is, the more clearly will he perceive that the apostle describes the true believer, from his first convictions of sin to his greatest progress in grace, during this present imperfect state. St. Paul was once a Pharisee, ignorant of the spirituality of the law, having some correctness of character, without knowing his inward depravity. When the commandment came to his conscience by the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and he saw what it demanded, he found his sinful mind rise against it. He felt at the same time the evil of sin, his own sinful state, that he was unable to fulfil the law, and was like a criminal when condemned. (Matthew Henry)

Romans 7:07 - Is the Law Sin?

Paul’s point here is that the law reveals what sin is and must be distinguished from the sin itself. The law is not sin (5:20; 7:4–6), just as light is not that which it illuminates. (Tyndale concise Bible commentary)

By the word "lust" in this place he does not mean evil lusts themselves, but the fountain from which they come, for the heathen philosophers themselves condemned wicked lusts, though somewhat poorly. But as for the fountain of lust, they could not so much as determine it, and yet it is the very seat of the natural and unclean spot and filth. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET." (NASB)

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.  (KJV)

Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "You must not covet." (NLT)

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, "Do not covet." (NET)

As we stand in the light of God's holy truth, we see the depth of our own sin!  The law then becomes the mirror whereby we see an accurate reflection of our fallenness.  We have nowhere to hid, the reality of our transgressions appear before us and we find ourselves helpless to live in obedience to this writ.  To the contrary, we like Paul, are transgressors always despite our best efforts.  Thankfully Christ's sacrifice on the Cross made a way for us to live our lives in victory in union with Him.  The more we see of our real selves, the more reasons we have to be thankful.  The "fountain of lust" that pulses in our veins is slaked upon the Savior's breast.

Romans 7:06 - Delivered and Free to be Righteous

But now we are delivered from the law - We, who have believed in Christ Jesus, are delivered from that yoke by which we were bound, which sentenced every transgressor to perdition, but provided no pardon even for the penitent, and no sanctification for those who are weary of their inbred corruptions. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

Our old man is crucified with Him, so that it is our deliverance to die to the law. It did but condemn us, but its authority ends with the life of him who was under that authority. And being dead in Christ, the law can no longer reach those who had been under it: we belong to the new husband, to Christ risen, in order that we should serve in newness of spirit, the goodwill of grace in our new life, and — as the apostle will afterwards explain, by the Holy Ghost [36] — not in the bondage of the letter. (Dr. John Darby)

But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. (NASB)

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. (KJV)

But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. (NLT)

But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code. (NET)

We can live and still be free from the demands of the law!  The God's law still exists and rules over men. But we ourselves, in Christ, died to its control.  We are not lawless, but instead are joined to Him whose name is above all names that we might walk in the newness of life.  This life is now motivated to service of the King an not in an old worn out way of the written statutes.  So now we are dead unto sin, dean unto the law and free to serve in the Spirit!  The phrase "new life" just doesn't give wings to all that we have been given to enjoy in Christ Jesus our Lord.

the Ethiopic version renders it, "we are loosed from the law, and are delivered from the former doctrine"; the doctrine of the legal dispensation. (Dr. John Gill)

Romans 7:05 - Flesh and the Law

The illustration in this verse and the following is designed to show more at length the effect of the Law, whenever and wherever applied; whether in a state of nature or of grace. It was always the same. It was the occasion of agitation and conflict in a man’s own mind. This was true when a sinner was under conviction; and it was true when a man was a Christian. In all circumstances where the Law was applied to the corrupt mind of man, it produced this agitation and conflict. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues the slave of sin in some form. (Mathew Henry)

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. (NASB)

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (KJV)

When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. (NLT)

 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. (NET)

Gal 5:24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. (NLT)

Tit 3:3  Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.  Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. (NLT)

Gal 5:16-17  So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (NLT)

It is our inner nature, lustful passions, that are exercised, because the law prohibits, to seek gratification.  This is the very mechanism that the enemy of our soul will continue to use to deceive us even as we endeavor to walk in the Spirit!  It is this desire for gratification that can lead us into thinking we are following the Lord when we are merely deceiving ourselves.  Should we believe that we are caught up in "holy affections" when we bark like a dog or shake uncontrollably?  These are the "fair shows and glistering appearances" of which Jonathan Edwards spoke during the great awakening.  "War on the Saints" likewise condemns such things as of the devil.  Our inner nature seeks an "experience" and while true religion will bring with it great affections, having such experiences does not necessarily mean they are holy!  The human psyche is capable of great things in its own right, including leading a morally upright life.  The problem is still the man within that wants to have his own way ("justification by obedience")!  However, we know that Jesus is the only way!

"the motions of sin" are meant, the evil passions and affections of the mind, the lusts of the heart, sinful desires, evil thoughts, the imaginations of the thoughts of the heart, the first motions of the mind to sin: these "were by the law"; not as the efficient cause of them, that neither produces nor encourages them;  (Dr. John Gill)

When ye were in the flesh - Carnally minded, in a state of nature; before we believed in Christ. Our sins which were by the law - Accidentally occasioned, or irritated thereby. Wrought in our members - Spread themselves all over the whole man. (John Wesley)

Romans 7:04 - Dead to the Law

An application of the similitude of marriage. "So", he says, "it is the same with us: for now we are joined to the Spirit, as it were to the second husband, by whom we must bring forth new children: we are dead with regard to the first husband, but with regard to the latter, we are as it were raised from the dead."  (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

Wherefore, my brethren - This is a parallel case. You were once under the law of Moses, and were bound by its injunctions; but now ye are become dead to that law - a modest, inoffensive mode of speech, for, The law, which was once your husband, is dead; God has determined that it shall be no longer in force; so that now, as a woman whose husband is dead is freed from the law of that husband, or from her conjugal vow, and may legally be married to another, so God, who gave the law under which ye have hitherto lived, designed that it should be in force only till the advent of the Messiah; that advent has taken place, the law has consequently ceased, and now ye are called to take on you the yoke of the Gospel, and lay down the yoke of the law; and it is the design of God that you should do so. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. (NASB)

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (KJV)

So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the One who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. (NLT)

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God. (NET)

Are become dead (ἐθανατώθητε). more accurately, ye were made dead, put to death; because this ethical death is fellowship with Christ’s death, which was by violence. (Vincent Word studies in the New Testament)

Once again we see the identification with Christ's death brought forth.  We now see our marriage to Him in the resurrection so that we may bear fruit. In this illustration Paul shows us two husbands who are both perfect and holy.  However, the first is not very helpful to our fallen estate but to the contrary displays our true character.  The second husband, who is Christ, delivers us from our fallen estate so that now we are no longer under the law but under His Grace.  We are no long subject to the law but rather, because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, a fulfillment of the law allowing us to be fruitful.

that we should bring forth fruit unto God — It has been thought that the apostle should here have said that “the law died to us,” not “we to the law,” but that purposely inverted the figure, to avoid the harshness to Jewish ears of the death of the law [Chrysostom, Calvin, Hodge, Philippi, etc.]. But this is to mistake the apostle’s design in employing this figure, which was merely to illustrate the general principle that “death dissolves legal obligation.” It was essential to his argument that we, not the law, should be the dying party, since it is we that are “crucified with Christ,” and not the law. This death dissolves our marriage obligation to the law, leaving us at liberty to contract a new relation - to be joined to the Risen One, in order to spiritual fruitfulness, to the glory of God [Beza, Olshausen, Meyer, Alford, etc.]. The confusion, then, is in the expositors, not the text; and it has arisen from not observing that, like Jesus Himself, believers are here viewed as having a double life - the old sin-condemned life, which they lay down with Christ, and the new life of acceptance and holiness to which they rise with their Surety and Head; and all the issues of this new life, in Christian obedience, are regarded as the “fruit” of this blessed union to the Risen One. How such holy fruitfulness was impossible before our union to Christ, is next declared.  (A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

Sharing Jesus Part 2

This is the second of several short articles about sharing Jesus in a normal and natural manner that is not dependent on a specific ‘method’.  In Part 1 of this short series of posts, we talked about starting a conversation that can lead to sharing Jesus and the message of salvation with a family member, friend, co-worker, or anyone for that matter.  The goal of the conversation was to arrive at the conclusion that the reason people do bad things is because they have an inner problem that the Bible calls ‘sin’.

The Sin Problem

Before we start talking about ‘sin’ let’s give our conversation partner a name.  We’ll call him/her ‘Pat’ (a good gender neutral name). The next step in the conversation we are having with ‘Pat’  is to define the extent of this ‘sin’ problem.  And just like we asked a lot of questions when we started the conversation (the Colombo technique), we’ll continue our discussion with another question:

“So ‘Pat’, what do you think sin is?”

The first answer you will get will most likely have to do with bad things we do and/or mistakes we make, which is the most immediate and natural response.  You might get the same answer from the vast majority of believers, but that’s for another article.

You might also hear that sin means NOT doing things we ought to do.  We do have a natural sense of what the ‘right’ thing to do would be at certain times, but we fail to do it.

And since we left off the first part of our conversation agreeing that we all have an ‘inner problem’, you might even hear an answer that talks about our natural selfishness and/or inner tendencies.  And that, my friends, is where we want to go now – the sinful human nature, or tendency to sin.  Once you’re there, you can ask the big WHY question:

“So Pat, since you have rightly recognized that we have an inner problem, a natural tendency to do bad stuff, and sometimes to NOT do what we know would be right, WHY do you think we have a natural tendency to sin?”

It’s the natural and logical next question.  Regardless of the response, this is the opportunity to discuss what the Bible has to say about the WHY. We did the same thing earlier in the conversation when we said that the Bible calls man’s inner problem ‘sin’.  And remember that you are sharing the ‘Christian worldview’ and not trying to convince Pat of your personal opinion. Just share what the Bible has to say and let God do the convincing.  It would be good if you have a Bible handy to share straight from scripture.

In sharing what the Bible says about our sin problem, you can take it all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the story of creation and the fall of man.  After all, that’s where our sin problem started – when the first couple disobeyed God.  The point is that God created everything good, and it went sour because of man’s disobedience.  Adam’s sin impacted the ‘nature’ of every human being born since then.

Regardless of what we think about the fairness of Adam’s sin affecting the rest of the human race, it did.  We are told several things about the ‘natural’ man that describe him in rather ‘dark’ terms.

The entrance of sin into the world rendered the human heart deceitful beyond all things i and desperately sick, the human mind blind to spiritual things, ii hostile to God, iii and unable to please God. iv

It’s really important for us who share Jesus with others and for those listening to our message to grasp just how bad the sin issue is.  It’s in knowing just HOW bad the bad news is that we can most fully understand and appreciate the good news of what God has done in sending his Son to die for OUR sins.  The main point about sin is that it’s more than what we do or don’t do, it’s part of our very nature as sons of Adam.

Sadly, much of today’s ‘evangelism’, both in churches and person to person, minimizes the real issue of our sin problem and in some cases, omits it entirely.  We would rather attract sinners to Jesus with our ‘changed lives’ rather than speak the truth about our bondage to sin, while trusting God to open stone cold hearts and effectually draw men to the cross.  Are our lives irreversibly changed when we have trusted in Christ for forgiveness of our sins and in his death on our behalf?  Of course they are, but as a result of the cross, not as the reason for believing in Jesus.

And once the reality of sin has, with the help of the Holy Spirit, sunk into Pat’s heart, the conversation can move on to the consequences of, and a solution to the problem.  Stay tuned for Part 3.

i. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “Jer 17:9

ii. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Cor 4:4

iii. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.” Rom 8:7

iv. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:8

 

Sharing Jesus Part 1

This is the first of several short articles about sharing Jesus in a normal and natural manner that is not dependent on a specific ‘method’. As believers, many of us want to share Jesus with others, but hesitate out of nervousness and even fear. On the other hand, some of us aren’t nervous or fearful, so we charge right in using a particular method we found somewhere or were taught by someone. My friends, it doesn’t have to be so hard. How hard is it for us to talk about other exciting things in our lives? Sharing Jesus can and should be as natural as talking about a new house, car, smartphone, or even having just been married to the man/woman of your dreams. Having said all that, let’s begin.

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

Here’s the scenario.

God has placed in your heart a desire to share Jesus and the message of the gospel with a relative, friend, co-worker, or even someone you just met (it happens). You know it’s a real because 1) God has given you a burden to reach the lost around you and 2) you asked God to point you in the right direction. And although you’ve studied various ‘methods’ of personal evangelism, you don’t know which one to use, or how to start. You are afraid of using the wrong method. How do you proceed with this important task?

Well, like the title of this blog post suggests, start a conversation, after having asked God to open a heart to hear a hard message!

Now what that conversation might sound has a lot of possibilities, depending on the specific situation, your relationship with this person, and what you know about his/her level of spiritually. Never mind all that for now, just start the conversation with a few things in mind as you press toward the final goal of the discussion – the point at which it’s time for your conversation partner to consider responding to the message of the gospel you are about to share.

First of all, you need to identify and understand the root problem before you offer a solution. Jesus didn’t come to earth and die on a cross for ‘your best life now’, or any variation of that theme. He came to die for the sins of God’s people (See Matthew 1:21).  Our ultimate goal is to share the Christ who died for our sins, I don’t know anyone who wants to hear they have a sin problem.

Does that sound tough, or what? Yes it does, but remember that you have already prayed that God open a heart to hear.  The problem of sin IS the main issue the message of the gospel addresses. We have all sinned, Christ died for those sins, and that ultimately deserves a response. Never fear, you don’t have to quote Romans 3:23 at the start of the conversation, but you do need to somehow take the topic of the conversation to the main issue..  

Actually, you don’t even need to use the dreaded “S” word, not yet anyway. You can start this most important conversation just like you might start any other conversation. Just choose a hot topic from the news. If you don’t listen to, watch, or read the news it’s time to start. Think of something ‘bad’ that was reported. There’s plenty out there. It could be local crime, dirty politics, another mass shooting or terrorist attack anywhere in the world. Pick one.

You might ask, “Did you hear about what happened at/in ________________?” “Why do you think that guy did that?” Just ask about something specific everyone probably knows about and ask a “Why do you think…..” question. You’re sending the message that you are interested in a thoughtful response, the other person’s opinion.

The answer most likely will be on the lines of “He was nuts…….just plain mean……he hates, etc., a specific possible reason. Take the reason given and ask another “why do you think” question. “Why do you think he’s nuts, mean, hateful, etc. That’s a different level question that goes to the motive for the ‘act’. You might get an answer or you might not.

What you would like to hear is something like “Well, I don’t know for sure, but maybe there’s something inside that caused him to …….” If you get that response, you can take the conversation to a still deeper level by asking another question along the lines of “What do you think that ‘inner’ problem might be?” Or, if you didn’t hear something about an inherent human problem, suggest the possibility of an ‘inner’ issue. The entire goal of the conversation is to agree that there’s an ‘inner’ problem with all of us humans.

At this point it’s time to identify and name the problem. People attribute bad acts to psychological problems, growing up in a bad home, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and even genetics.  The Bible calls our problem ‘sin. This is a the moment in the conversation to bring that up. The conversation has officially begun!

The discussion might continue, or be left for thoughtful consideration. The problem has been identified; the next part of the conversation will be to understand the problem. We’ll address that in the next article.

Do you see where this is going? Some have called this the “Colombo” technique (Think Peter Falk and all his question asking). All you are doing is having a friendly conversation with the goal of taking the conversation to the main problem we all have - sin. You don’t really have to open a Bible until you get to the part where you suggest that “The Bible calls our problem sin.” That’s the time to read directly from its pages (Romans 3:23 for example). Reading text from the pages of scripture leaves little or no room for receiving a “that’s your opinion” response.

So that’s how you start a conversation with an unbeliever. It might only take a single conversation to get to the main issue, or it might take longer.  You asked God to open a heart before you began the conversation and you continued to pray during the conversation. Now pray that God, through the Holy Spirit, would water the seeds you planted.

At the right time, you might hear “Remember what you were telling me about. . .” (The door has just been blown wide open.), or you can ask about the last BIG conversation. Just move at a perfectly natural pace. Remember that the goal of personal evangelism is, as Alistair Begg defines it:

“…to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him.”

May God add his blessing to your sharing Jesus with a lost world!

P.S.  It’s quite possible that you might be sharing Jesus with one person, and someone else will stop you one day and share that he/she  overheard you talking and met the Savior because of it. It happens. I know this one. J 


Christian Military Fellowship

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