• Jenna

Witnessing Part 6 - For All Have Sinned

Updated: May 25

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:23-24



The Rich Young Ruler and A Felt Need


A felt need is an important change needed to satisfy an empty hole, a lacking, or a deficiency in someone’s life. The rich young ruler had a felt need. So much so, that he ran to Jesus. Obviously, if he ran, it was something urgent. He ran up to Jesus and asked Him, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” That’s what he was missing; salvation. Now Jesus didn't just respond to him and say, “Oh, so you want to go to heaven, eh? Alrighty then! Congrats, you’re in!” No, instead Jesus said, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). See, what Jesus was doing was progressing to the next step in evangelism with him.


A felt need is good, but with coming to saving faith in Christ, it takes more than just having a felt need. In evangelizing someone, the person must also recognize their own sinfulness and admit that they are living in rebellion to God. Beyond a felt need, they need to be aware that they are going to be judged by God’s perfect standards and not by the world’s fallen standards or their own personal standards. Very often, this is the most difficult step in sharing the gospel; addressing sin in order that people come to recognize their need for a Savior.


Addressing and Recognizing Sin


It’s common to come across people who are looking for peace and purpose. People are often open to hearing more when you tell them you have an answer for all of that. People are not offended if you share with them something that could bring them peace and purpose. Yet, people are often offended when you bring up sin. So you have the creme de la creme answer that will give them meaning, purpose, value, fulfillment, potential, and ultimately eternal life. But see, the difficult part is pointing out the real issue that needs to be addressed first; and that's their sin.


The reason people don’t feel peace, fulfillment, or purpose is because they’re living a life of sin, and they are rebelling against the One who provides all those things. This person can never come to experience those things until they first come to grips with the reality - that they are living in violation to God’s Law, which angers a righteous, holy God. They can never come to know those things like peace and purpose, unless they come to the full knowledge of God (salvation in Christ). And it will only be in Him that they will find those things. See, many people want the by-products of Christ; the joy, peace, comfort, healing, fulfillment, purpose, true love, and eternal life. But many people don't want Christ Himself. Many people want to go to heaven. But many people don't want there to be a righteous God when they get there.


So what someone has to do next is recognize their own sin. In the next step in evangelism we have to name at least a few of the commandments, and we should use Scripture along with them. It's God's Moral Law, written in every heart, that strikes the conscience. Once someone's conscience is struck by hearing the Law, they are able to see their own sinfulness and recognize that they fall short of God's perfect standards.


For All Have Sinned and Fall Short of the Glory of God


Jesus named the commandments to the rich young ruler when he asked Jesus which ones must he keep. He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young rich ruler said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:18-20).


The problem here was that the rich young ruler's conscience was not struck by God's Law. He proudly and ignorantly thought that he had kept all of those commandments and wasn't lacking anything. See, the rich young ruler didn't understand either that breaking God's commandments starts in the heart of a person. Sin is a heart issue, which manifests itself in different ways. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). Yes, many people don't commit full out murder or adultery, but those crimes are ones that must originate in the heart of a person for it to come to pass.


Sinning Against an Infinite God Carries Infinite Consequences


For example, Jesus says, "but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Scripture also says, Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15). And even if we have told the tiniest white lie, or stolen someone’s pen along the way in life, we have broken His Law, we have fallen short of His perfect standards, and according to His Law, we would be considered a lying thief, deserving of His eternal wrath. I know that seems unfair in our eyes and in our minds, but we have to understand that we are not judged by our own fallen standards. We are judged by God's perfect standards. We are also sinning against a righteous God who is set apart from us (Holy) and doesn't have a stitch of evil anywhere in Him. People ask how could God ever make people suffer in hell for an eternity? It's because the One we are sinning against is an infinite being, which carries infinite consequences.


So, even if we were able to keep nine commandments perfectly (obviously that's impossible) and break only one commandment one time, Scripture says we would be guilty of it all. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law (James 2:10-11). The purpose of God's Law is there to show us our depravity and our desperate need for a Savior, not for us to keep the law, since that's humanly impossible. The Law is to point us to Jesus. We all fall insanely short of God’s perfect standards. Each and every one of us. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (Romans 3:23).


Blinded By Pride


It’s impossible to bring someone to conversion if they first can’t see that they are a sinner and admit that they have broken God’s Law. They need to realize there is a much deeper issue within themselves, that it's a heart issue. With evangelism, we have to bring that person to the place in their heart and mind where they can really accept the truth that they are inherently sinful, not "good" like most people believe in today's world. This is hard to do and often very uncomfortable, especially since the majority of people on this planet consider themselves to be a "good person."


46% of Professing Christians Believe This


According to a recent study done in 2020 by Ligonier Ministries, they asked professing Christians, "Do you believe people are good by nature?'' And 46% of "Evangelicals" believed this: "Everyone sins a little but most people are good by nature." This is in complete contradiction to what Scripture teaches us about the true nature of human beings. According to Scripture, we are all actually children of wrath by nature. among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:3). We are all born with a sin nature, in the likeness of Adam, and only until we are born again do we become children of God and stand righteous before God, through faith in His Son. Scripture also says, None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (Romans 3:11-12). Scripture makes it abundantly clear what we are by nature - we are not good. Only God is good. And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone (Mark 10:18).


Outside of people who call themselves Christians, just imagine how many more people out there in the world are under the same impression that they as well, are inherently good. See, it's difficult to be a messenger of something that is an absolute contradiction and offense to what most people believe. That's why sacrifice is needed in effective witnessing. If we are not willing to sacrifice, we won't get very far with sharing the gospel.


One Step at a Time


Evangelism involves steps, and if someone can't get past step one or two, the only direction they can go is back where they started. Someone can't come to faith without first seeing their sin and their need for a Savior. The tremendously good news of the gospel isn't good news to them unless they can understand their need for it. When we do help people recognize their sin, then they're able to take that next step forward and acknowledge their need to forsake their own wills and submit their life to the will of God.


In the next step of evangelism with the rich young ruler, Jesus told him that if he was already perfect, the next thing he had to do was sell all his possessions and come follow Him. Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Matthew 18:21-22).


Counting the Costs


Of course, the rich young ruler wanted eternal life, which would bring peace, joy, and freedom from his angst. Everyone wants that stuff. But with the rich young ruler, he wasn’t willing to do it on the terms Jesus clearly laid out for him. He first would have to admit that he was a sinner, and he couldn’t do that because he wanted to protect his own sense of self-worth. Next, he would have to sell his possessions and give to the poor, but he chose not to because he valued those temporary things more than eternal life. Ultimately, the rich young ruler would have to submit his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but He chose not to because He wanted to be the lord of his own life, yet still have eternal life.


When we come to faith as Christians, Jesus tells us to count the cost of following Him. Although eternal life is a free gift and the gospel is as free as the air we breathe, Christians are not free to live in sin, and we must forsake our own wills if we want to be true disciples of Christ. That's the cost of following Him. It's doing the will of God through faith, by His grace. In Luke, Jesus says, "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" (Luke 14:28).


Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26).


Faith Comes by Hearing


So what the rich young ruler did was count the costs, and he chose to pass up eternal life. Eternal life wasn't worth the cost he would have to pay in this short life. It cost too much for him. These are the types of things we have to bring people to in sharing the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. These are the conditions people need to understand in order to follow Christ and truly be saved. And we must rely on the power of God and the work of His Spirit to move in people's minds and hearts. That's the only way someone gets saved - by God Himself. However, we must be responsible for what God calls us to do - and that's share the gospel, preach the Word.That's our part. Someone can't come to faith without hearing the Word of God.


For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:14-17).


Also, this is just my own personal hope about the rich young ruler. For some reason, I like to think that he changed his mind by God's grace somewhere down the line, that he eventually repented and believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't know why out of all the Bible characters, I think about the the rich young ruler and if ever he changed his mind and gave his life to Christ. I mean God Himself evangelized him. Hopefully, he came to his senses. I hope to see the rich young ruler on the other side.


Continue reading part 7 here.

 

Surely there is no righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20


If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10


But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:22


Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. Romans 3:19


So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

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