A personal saviour for a general condemnation?

We preach – and rightly so – that people need to make Jesus one’s personal saviour – that it has to be a personal thing, but we usually don’t preach a personal condemnation – only a general condemnation. Here’s what I mean, the following Bible passages are commonly used when witnessing to someone, but all of them are general. They are all true, but they make general statements, rather than personal, specific statements:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: Romans 3:10

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15

There is nothing wrong with these verses – they are all true and are God’s word, but using these to convince a person he or she is a lost sinner is kind of like a police officer giving you a speeding ticket because he says everyone speeds, but he never offers you proof that you were in fact speeding. Telling a person that everyone is a sinner doesn’t convict that person. We need to be specific – make it personal.

First John 3:4 says sin is a transgression of God’s law. So to convict the sinner, tell him what God’s laws are – the Ten Commandments. Then give the evidence how he has broken those laws – his conscience will bear witness that he has broken them (Romans 2:15). Paul said in Romans 7 that he had not known sin, but by the law. He did not know lust was wrong until he learned the law said “Thou shalt not covet.” A sinner will not know he has offended God unless he knows what God’s laws are. Once the evidence has been presented and the sinner is convicted and declared guilty, let him know about the punishment that justice demands and that the holy and just God will administer. And then let him know that the Lord Jesus Christ paid his fine so he could escape damnation, if only he would repent and trust Christ.

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