Me, a Sinner?
I am not a sinner.” That is a statement we frequently hear when we explain the gospel to our Jewish people. It is not arrogance; it is a common misunderstanding of the meaning of sin.
Few Jewish people know the biblical concept of sin as “missing the mark,” that is, anything that falls short of God’s standard. When they claim not to be sinners, they often mean they have not robbed, murdered or committed rape. To most Jewish people, the idea of a sin nature or being born sinners is totally foreign. The Jewish religion does not teach this at all, and in fact, it is offered as a distinction between Judaism and Christianity. The doctrine of original sin is so misunderstood that many Jewish people mistakenly think it contradicts the biblical truth that human beings are created in God’s image.
Against this backdrop, it was not surprising when one of my contacts, William, said he was not a sinner. His statement gave me the opportunity to ask, “How do you define sin?” and then to point out how the Bible defines sin. Bill is a pharmacist by trade. He is a bit cynical and sometimes blunt in his honesty. When I first contacted him, he was friendly on the phone, but he did not see much use in Christ’s death. Nonetheless he was willing to talk. I contacted him a few times by phone and volunteered to drop by his home, as I am periodically in his area. I was pleased that he did not object. I visited him a few times, we talked about the Scriptures and I responded to his objections. I was encouraged when he told me that he was coming closer to believing in Yeshua as his Messiah.
I did not realize just how close he had come until I asked if he wanted to ask Jesus into his life as Lord and Messiah. I was a little surprised (but delighted) when he indicated that he was ready. He has continued in faith through a one-to-one discipleship course I have been giving him.
Mark Landrum grew up in Georgia, where his Jewish mother came to faith in Jesus when Mark was still a boy. He has shared his faith with others since his teen years. Mark's decision to be a missionary was made after a summer in Peru with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Mark met Jews for Jesus missionary Rahel Hirshenson on our New York Summer Witnessing Campaign in 1990, and they were wed in March 1992. Mark holds an M.A. in Jewish Missions from Fuller Theological Seminary. The Landrums are now serving in our Sydney branch.