The Enemy is tricky, but very clear in his goals. He wants to deny humans the free gift of salvation, and will do all he can to accomplish this. To that end, when you seek to share the Gospel with the public, he will go out of his way to prevent people from hearing it. Why? Simply put, he wants to destroy everything that God has made, especially us.
Tell me, does this sound familiar? You are sharing the Gospel, trying to tell someone about the Lord Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation, when a critic comes against you and demands to know why you are there. They will say something like, “Why aren’t you in a soup kitchen, or doing something to help the poor and/or homeless?”, or “Why are you out here judging people and making them feel bad about themselves?” The general direction of their questioning is meant to imply that you are failing in your Christian walk because you are either delinquent in the command to care for the less fortunate, or because you are out there passing judgement. Overall, the implication is that you should have something better to do elsewhere, rather than hassling people in the public. They may even quote Matthew 7:1 (Judge not…) to you, in an effort to dissuade you from speaking out against Sin in general.
Additionally, you will encounter critics who will demand to know why it is that you, a sinner, feel that you have the right to speak out against Sin. They will ask what qualifies you to speak of the brokenness of other sinners, when you are a broken sinner yourself. They may even quote Matthew 7:1-5, in an effort to convince you that what you are doing is being hypocritical.
Before you can answer them, you must begin with the understanding that their goal is simply to silence you, and you must refuse to be silenced. It is the Enemy moving against you, in an effort to prevent people from hearing the Truth, and you cannot allow him to win. Now is the time that you ought to ask yourself how you would answer this line of questioning, if for no other reason than to know and understand why you are out there.
We Are All Broken Sinners
One of the most important aspects of the Gospel Message that we must all remember is that we are all broken sinners in desperate need of a Savior before our Almighty God. We must remember that we would all be condemned to hell were it not for the salvation offered us by Lord Jesus, who took our portion of God’s Wrath while He hung and died on the Cross. In Isaiah 64, this painful fact is beautifully spelled out with, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isa. 64:6, KJV)
What does this particular verse mean? Just what are “filthy rags”, and why was that example used? As it turns out, the original Hebrew speaks to something that is utterly defiled in the Levitical sense. In saying that we are an “unclean thing”, what’s being expressed is that we are polluted and defiled according to the Law of Moses. The word טמא (ṭâmē’) indicates that the people saw themselves as polluted and depraved.
“All our righteousnesses” indicates that all of our good deeds, everything we do that would otherwise be pleasing in the sight of God is tainted with the pollution of Sin, which means that it is useless in providing us with salvation. This is a beautiful affirmation of faith based salvation, because our works will not garner us right standing before the Lord. Do remember that the reason Abraham was declared righteous was because of his faith, not anything he said or did. (Gen. 15)
In truth, the word used for “filthy” (עדים ‛iddiym) is one that not only references the rags women once wore during menstruation, but indicates that they did not have a way to express the concept with more abhorrence. This description was as low as they could go. In this, they were comparing their righteous deeds with their version of a bloody tampon, in order to make clear just how the Lord views the greatest of our deeds, our thoughts, and our words! This is profound when you consider how many people in our world consider themselves to be “good people” because they believe that their good deeds outweigh their bad. It also makes our efforts to evangelize all the more urgent.
We are all broken sinners, deserving of condemnation. Knowing this, the Enemy tries to use it as a way to silence us. He tries to convince us that our status as broken sinners precludes us from speaking out against sin. I’m sure some of you are familiar with the saying, “Why would I hate someone for sinning differently than me?” The implication, of course, is that speaking out automatically equates to hatred, and no one wants to be seen as hateful.
The True Extent of our Dependence
In his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, Jonathan Edwards states, “The observation from the words I would now insist upon is this: “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean His sovereign pleasure, His arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.”
What does that mean? The only thing keeping us out of hell is God? We exist in a state of constant rebellion and condemnation before Him, unable to truly come clean on our own, and He is the only thing keeping us from falling in? How amazingly profound is that?!
Imagine falling into a pig sty, and having to use only a package of baby wipes to clean yourself up before going to stand before a judge in a courtroom. No matter how thoroughly you scrub, you will never truly come clean! This is each and every one of us, and without Jesus of Nazareth we will all find ourselves standing before the Judge in an unclean and imperfect condition, reeking of filth.
Yet, in spite of living in that condition, day after day, for an entire lifetime, God freely gives us an opportunity to be made completely clean and new. I don’t mean just-stepped-out-of-the-shower clean, either. I mean it-never-happened clean. The kind of clean that sets God so far apart from His Creation that exposure to Him would turn us all to ashes. All He asks of us is to believe, to submit, and to repent, even unto death.
When you truly submit to Almighty God through His Son Jesus Christ something amazing happens. You feel as if someone has just lifted ten tons of weight off your shoulders. It’s an amazing feeling to suddenly lose a weight you never even realized you were carrying! As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Throughout his letters, Paul makes reference to the different ways that we change, to the ways we can tell if someone has truly converted, and even outlines for us which behaviors we should not accept amongst ourselves and why. The most pertinent to all of this would be Chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians, in which he states:
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:16-23, KJV)
In this passage, what Paul is trying to express is that we are to seek to live according to the Spirit, not the flesh. In the Complete Jewish Bible, it is referred to as our “old nature”, while the King James translates it as “flesh”. Either one works, and are appropriate for this purpose. The basic message here is that one can expect to see fundamental changes in themselves when they truly repent and submit. The desire of the Spirit is to supersede the desires of the flesh, and this overpowers any tendency towards carnality.
He even goes so far as to describe both sides of the coin, so that we may have a very clear picture. In verses 19-21, we have adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings. In verses 22-23, we have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. In order for us to know if a transformative experience [conversion] has occurred within ourselves, or another person, these are the things to watch for. It is with great sadness that one must note that we see entirely too much on one side of the coin, and not enough of the other, in most churches today.
When reading through those lists, what becomes abundantly clear is that each and every one of us is guilty of one or more of the old nature offenses in violation of God’s Law. During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that one commits adultery if they so much as look upon a woman to lust after her. He also states that hatred of your brother is the same as murdering him. These are just two examples of how we fall short of the glory of God, as Paul expressed it in Romans 3:23. As it is clear that these sins taint us, and the only way to be rid of them before our Lord is through the saving grace of our Lord and Savior, it is easy to see why people might decide that our choice to speak out seems a bit hypocritical, but they would wrong in that assumption.
The Great Commission
By this point, some of you might be wondering how it is that people who are so broken and sinful can justify standing before crowds of people and preaching about the brokenness of man, the wrath of God, and eternal life without hypocrisy. You might feel as if this is somehow impossible. The answer is simple. Jesus told us to.
In Matthew 28, we find that Jesus is finishing up His time on earth. He has already resurrected from the dead, and spent time with His Disciples and followers. He has spent 40 days instructing His followers on what they are to do once He is gone. The closing three verses of the chapter, verses 18-20 say, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Please note that this is the fulfillment of prophecy found in Daniel 7:13-14, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Of all the names and titles applied to Jesus, the one He called Himself most often was “Son of Man“, which becomes all the more significant when you look at these two passages together.
Here, we have the One known as Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath, the One who knew no Sin, and He is ordering all of His followers to go out and share the Good News (Gospel) of His Message, His Salvation. How can we disobey? He says it, it is. That is all there is to it. No matter who objects, even those in positions of authority, we simply must obey that dictate even under threats of violence, torture, imprisonment, starvation, and even death. As Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”