To preach the gospel, not with words of wisdom, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (I Cor. 1:17)
There is only one way to be delivered from sin: The source of sin must die. We cannot be delivered from sin by merely being forgiven FOR sin – forgiveness removes the penalty for sin. That is wonderful and essential. But forgiveness alone does not remove the sin itself. There must come a deliverance through death from what Paul calls, “the body of sin,” and, “the old man in Adam.” This was accomplished by Christ once and for all on the Cross for all of us. The way in which it becomes experiential to us is if we take our place in the Cross, pick it up daily, and come under it’s power. The Cross is our death to the old so that we might live in Jesus in the new.
“Words of wisdom,” cannot substitute for the Cross. “Words of wisdom,” include anything that comes out of man as a solution for sin. I cannot, “sweet talk,” someone into being a Christian. I cannot logically corner them through argument into picking up the Cross. I cannot give them twelve step programs. I cannot give them any form of religion. I cannot, “confess,” into existence deliverance from sin. Neither can I substitute for the Cross by memorizing scripture, attending church, or by trying my best to live for Christ. I have to pick up the Cross and become conformed to HIS DEATH – and this is exactly the Truth that I must preach to others. It is the ONLY Truth and the ONLY solution for sin.
All sin — all bondage and addiction — is rooted in the old nature. Thus, I will not get free from sin — not TRULY free — by turning in upon a specific sin and trying to defeat it. Rather, I must LOSE the old life in which that sin is rooted into the hands of Jesus under the Cross. Even unbelievers can change some habits through psychology and will power. But this is not true freedom — for even the freedom they achieve is still within the old nature. Only if I will relinquish myself to Christ in an unconditional abandonment to Him of my right to myself — only then — will all of the sin that is rooted in that self; in that old life — only then will it have no power in my life. This will take time to learn, but it is the only way to freedom: The Cross of Jesus Christ. The suggestion that I can overcome the sin that is rooted in my right to myself without relinquishing my right to myself is nonsense.
Omit the Cross and you have a false gospel. Offer people the victory of Jesus Christ or the grace of Jesus Christ — without the necessity of the Cross — and you are preaching another gospel. Paul said, “When I came to you, I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Lots of people can give good sermons, and sway the crowds with emotion or logic. But people must be shown the dreadful creature that they are in Adam — they must be shown how much the NEED Jesus Christ. Only then will they voluntarily come to the Cross — and thank God that Jesus has died for them on it. This is the ONLY path to freedom.