It has been said that it is harder to get a man lost than to get a man saved. And yet, in our evangelistic endeavors, we often neglect the hard truth that is required to show a man his lost condition and rush into the good news of salvation for which a man is not ready to receive. Just as it is necessary to plow up fallow ground before putting in the seed, so it is with the heart of man which must be plowed up by the law of God before one recognizes their need of a Savior.
In Matthew 19, we read of the account of a young rich ruler who came to Jesus and said unto Him, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” This is the soul-winners dream come true. To have a man come begging to know the way of salvation is the desire of every soul-winner. However, even though most soul-winners would quickly lead this man in a ‘sinner’s prayer’, this is not the practice of the Lord. If the Lord would have spoken of salvation as a free gift, the man would not have understood. Rather, Christ laid bare the heart of this man by using the law of God to show him his need of grace. Notice the response of Christ who said, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Jesus Christ made sure that this man understood his lost condition by reminding him that there is no one good except God. This man didn’t realize that there was no good thing that he could do to merit eternal life. Rather, what he needed to hear was that he never did any thing that was pleasing before God and that he could do nothing good of himself. The first thing this man needed to know was that he was a lost and helpless sinner in need of grace. Therefore, the Lord continued to reveal the heart of this man by listing the commandments of God not a means of salvation but as a way to bring a knowledge of sin. However, the man continued to reveal his self-righteous condition by responding to the Lord by saying, “all these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” The man responds by telling the Lord he has kept all the commandments. Christ continued to lay bare the man’s heart by telling him to go and sell what he had and give to the poor. With just a few words, the Lord had shown the man his true condition, which left the man sorrowful because of the possessions that he would not part with.
It is very important that we use the law lawfully in our evangelism by helping people realize their lost condition before offering the good news of salvation.