SPEAKING CONCERNING SIN
After our talking to them about God, many people need to know that they are real sinners. This is according to Paul’s sequence in the book of Romans. He tells us first about God; then he tells us about sin. This is a good sequence, but we should not follow it in a legal way. We should follow it in a very living way, in a very flexible way. We should first help someone to know God and then help him to know himself. We should help him to know he is a sinner, even sin itself.
To talk about sin is not easy. You should not say, “God is good; God is righteous. But you are not good; you are not righteous.” This way of speaking is poor. In speaking of sin, you should begin by using the pronoun “we.” You should say, “God is very good, but we are sinners.” Then the second time you may say, “God is righteous, but I and you are not righteous,” putting yourself first. The third time you may change a bit more, saying, “You and I are not righteous.” Now you have come down to the fact gently. However, to jump down suddenly would hurt your talk and would hurt your purpose. If you say, “You are a sinner,” this may close the door. After you go, he would put the Bible away and say to his wife, “This poor preacher—he called me a sinner.”
We can illustrate that we are sinners. However, we should not ask people, “Have you ever stolen from people? Have you never lied to people?” When we illustrate, we should use ourselves, saying, “I can testify to you that I did a lot of stealing when I was young. I stole chalk from the school. Many times I stole some money from my mother’s pocket.” When we are talking about ourselves, this really means we are talking about the new one. Surely everyone has stolen something. When we say that we stole, that means everyone steals. Our speaking will touch everyone’s conscience. Many times when we talk in this way, we will induce the hearer to say, “I must be honest. I did a lot of stealing. I even stole from my wife.” He would confess to us. This is very good. Then we may say, “This is very good that you would tell us that you have stolen from your wife.” To bring someone to this point is like the work of a surgeon. We can do a lot of things at this juncture.
To learn how to talk about people’s sin is not so easy. We must learn to always use ourselves as an illustration. After this we may say, “I must also be honest with you. I am a bad person. My temper is too bad. I love my mother to the uttermost, but after only five minutes I got angry with her. How do you feel about this? Is this not sin? In the Bible God charges us to honor our parents, but quite often I did not honor my mother.” If we illustrate in this way, we will touch his conscience.
Whenever we talk to people about sin, the best conclusion is to have a prayer of confession. However, we should not tell people to pray and ask them to confess their sins to the Lord. We do not need to instruct them to confess their sins. We should simply begin to pray, “Lord, forgive me. I am a sinner. I did a lot of stealing, and I did a lot of lying.” We should simply take the lead to confess our sin. Spontaneously, they will learn from us, and after we pray, they will continue by praying, “O God, I am also a sinner.” They will follow us. This is the best way to talk to people concerning sin. After such a prayer, we have to tell them about God’s forgiveness. However, we cannot cover this subject in the same talk. At the conclusion of our talk, we should help this one a little bit to know that our sins have been forgiven. At another time when the situation is right, we will be able to talk with him about forgiveness in a thorough way.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)