Dealing with the Awakened
With an awakened sinner, aim for the promotion of conviction (to be explained more fully in future posts). The awakened sinner is sensitive to the fact that some things are wrong and concerned about the negative results of immorality but are generally “hung up” on two significant points. First, they are too concerned with the negative effects as they pertain to them. This can be manifested in complaining about corruption in the government (which there is) and at the same time, cheating on their taxes or lying to get a benefit of some sort (or something along that line). The second is, they are so busy pointing the finger at others that they fail to deal with their personal immorality and issues (purposely and “conveniently”). As unpleasant as it is (if you find it pleasurable, you might want to take personal inventory), with appropriate wisdom, we must endeavor to bring the awakened sinner face-to-face with their personal guilt and shame.
The awakened sinner will attempt to turn the discussion in other directions to avoid dealing with the unpleasant reality of their sin and guilt. It is most often necessary to go beyond sin as a general, abstract reality and deal with the personal sin of the individual in question. The purpose for this is not to be insulting or condescending. However, people will not experience genuine repentance without the soil properly prepared in this way. I am convinced that there are many false converts because they are willing to give Jesus permission to help them avoid the consequences of sin as an abstract reality but have never personally confessed and forsaken their sin. The awakened sinner should not be asked to accept Jesus but must be led to honestly own their sin in order to cultivate genuine appreciation and love for God’s mercy and gracious self-sacrificial provisions. We are not trying to talk people into something they ultimately do out of selfishness as opposed to love. I once had a discipleship student hear teaching on the need to convict the awakened, after which he proceeded to unwisely insult people. After a number of bad experiences he told me that my teaching was bogus.
When presenting truth effectively the awakened they will experience a time of coming to terms with personal sin and guilt which promotes the humbling needed if the sinner is to come to a position from which he can experience true repentance and conversion. It is a time of moving beyond a vague sense that something’s wrong, a time when the problem begins to take on form and become defined as they see themselves at the center of it. It is a time of recognizing that their personal agenda is far short of the proper motive and/or conduct of which God can approve and smile upon, that they have fallen short of the glory of God (Ro.3:23). We, as workers together with God, can present God’s Law to the sinner (Ro.3:20b) to help them see they’ve been living in rebellion. The sinner needs to learn to hate sin on a personal, intrinsic level, not just as an abstract principle.