You’ve certainly hear the expression, “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” Well, that expression certainly fits personal evangelism. Yes, personal evangelism is a difficult and demanding proposition.
In my Christian life, whether serving as a missionary to my Jewish people or sharing the gospel with family, friends, and others, there are times I ask myself, “Why is this so hard?” How about you?
Do you ever ask yourself that question?
Interestingly, it’s a question for which I have an answer and had the answer even before posing it!
Sometimes it’s good to review, so as to strengthen our faith and solidify our resolve – for people need the Lord!
Why is evangelism so hard?
Because we’re in a spiritual war – and the opposition to our evangelistic efforts are both internal and external.
The war waged against us from the outside emanates from the devil and his minions. As Bible teacher John McArthur has said “When you declare allegiance to heaven, you declare war on hell. And hell fights back pretty hard.” 1 Peter 5:8 states:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
In Ephesians 6:12 the Apostle Paul elaborates on our battle against Satan’s spiritual army:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The enemy of our souls would do anything and everything within his power to keep us from sharing the life-giving message of the gospel.
In addition, Satan works to keep those who don’t yet know Christ in the dark:
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
What should our response be to this external opposition? Be strong in the Lord, don the full armor of God, and pray in the spirit at all times (Ephesians 6:10-18).
The opposition within us, is characterized in the Scriptures as the “old man,” “the flesh,” or our “sinful nature.” In short, it’s our selfishness, rather than Christ’s righteousness, that at any particular moment, dominates us. And when we walk according to our flesh, it’s not good. The Apostle Paul wrote these words about the debilitating effects of the flesh:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” (Romans 7:18–19)
When operating according to our flesh, we become experts at rationalizing away the need for evangelism.
John Starke notes in a Gospel Coalition blog entitled “Why Don’t I Evangelize?” — “There are lots of ways to justify not practicing evangelism: I don’t have the gift of evangelism. I’m not very persuasive. I’m too shy. There are lots of unspoken reasons as well. I suppose the most common is fear.”
Sometimes we give up before we even start because we say it’s too hard. Let’s bring this one home. In my flesh I could say these things about engaging the personal evangelistic process: “I can’t do it.” “I don’t know what to do.” “I won’t know what to say.” “It’s too risky.” “I can’t handle rejection.” “I don’t like the person.” “I don’t want to deal with it. It’s too messy and too much work.”
Do you relate to any of those?
What’s a poor soul to do? Is there something that can overcome those destructive salvos of uncertainty? Yes, it is to walk in the Spirit:
I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:16–17)
When we walk in the Spirit, we have the power to do God’s will, including the service of evangelism.
Yes, we do understand why personal evangelism is so hard. Yet we also understand that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:7). Yes, people are precious to the Lord. So keep fighting the good fight of faith.
In the next devotional, we’ll elaborate on the weapons of our warfare. But for now, remember, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), and so can you.
Lord Jesus, please help me fight the good fight of faith and grow my witness, that others may know the wonder of Your salvation. Amen