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Don’t Forget the Jerk (for Christians only)

By Ray Comfort

     I’m not big on fishing. I far prefer catching. However, there can be no catching without fishing, so I have made a point of studying the skills that make a difference as to whether I catch or fish.

For example, there is a right and wrong way to bait a hook. Bait should be used to attract fish and at the same time disguise the hook. Fish are not stupid. They aren’t going to bite onto a hook that they can see. So, a wise fisherman baits the hook to hide its deadly barbs. Then, when he sees that a fish is nibbling at the bait, he quickly jerks the line and pulls the hook into the jaw, and reels him in.

Apologetics are wonderful bait. I love even the smell of a good apologetical argument. It can’t help but attract the fish. He doesn’t see anything threatening about an argument about the Bible. He knows he can win any dispute about that book of myths. It has an aroma that attracts him.

God’s Law is the hook; and it’s that from which he instinctively keeps his distance. It threatens him. That’s because it brings the knowledge of sin (see Romans 3:19, 20), so his mind is naturally hostile towards the Law. The Scriptures tells us that his carnal mind is at “enmity” with God, it’s “not subject to the Law of God, neither can it be” (see Romans 8:7). He isn’t stupid. If he can see the Law, he’s not going to bite. So a wise fisher of men will carefully hide the hook under some good bait.

Jesus did this with the woman at the well. He first spoke of natural water. Nothing threatening here. Then He quickly pulled the hook of the Law into her jaw, by using the Seventh Commandment to bring the knowledge of sin (see John 4:16).

Paul did a similar thing in Athens. His heart was stirred because the whole city was given over to idolatry (see Acts 17:16). So he baited them by giving an interesting line about their poets, then he quickly jerked the Law into the jaw by preaching against their idolatry (see verses 29-30). They had sinned against God by transgressing the First and the Second of the Ten Commandments. They had “other gods” before Him, and they therefore needed to repent. The Law brought the Athenians the knowledge of sin.


Despite these examples in Scripture, many Christians go fishing with powerful and attractive apologetics but leave out the hook. They talk about the existence of God, the infallibility of Scripture, archeological findings, creationism, the fallacy of evolution, the age of the earth, the depth of dust on the moon, etc., but they don’t see the necessity of using the Law to bring the knowledge of sin.

Let’s be a fly on a rock and listen to a well-equipped apologetical fisher of men. He throws a line towards an unbeliever. There is a nibble, and a conversation begins. Good reason for God’s existence is given. Back the sinner comes with an argument for atheism. The Christian quotes Scripture. The atheist retaliates with an argument about “circular reasoning.” And there begins an intellectual battle. One says that creation is proof for God’s existence and the other says it’s the mere product of billions of years of evolution. It’s a fascinating conversation--an intellectually challenging match of wits for both parties.

However, the argument has no resolution. It seems to be going on forever and going nowhere. Suddenly, the Christian brings out a powerful point that leaves the atheist with his mouth open. He has no comeback. He is defeated. It’s all over. He has lost the argument about the existence of God. Does he then say, “You are right and I am wrong. There is a God and I have sinned against Him. What should I do?” No! Instead he says, “Okay. What about bats? The Bible calls them birds!! Huh? And how about God advocating genocide, and what about slavery? And how about the killing of women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night! Your god is nothing but a wicked tyrant!”

There is a very good reason that he isn’t giving up the argument. It is because each night he has a habit of going on the Internet and surfing his favorite sites. He has an addiction he loves. He drools over pornography that is so pleasurable, it takes his breath away. Literally. Besides that, he has incredible sex with his gorgeous girlfriend, any time he wants. He didn’t know that life could be so good.

Think of it now. A stranger has just come along who wants to put an end to all that pleasure. All of it. If he gives up the battle, he won’t be allowed to even look at a woman with lust, let alone have sex with her. This religious nut wants to make him celibate. Horrors! He wants him to sit in a boring church, singing old hymns, listening to a deathly boring priest, and mindlessly clutching a book filled with fairytales. Give up? Are you kidding? So the unbeliever is going to fight this battle with tooth and nail. He is going to fortify his hedonistic lifestyle with the zeal of a Pharisee, and he will do it with every intellectual argument he can find. And he can easily find websites that give a stack of arguments that promise to justify godlessness. There he can arm himself with a mass of rabbit trails down which he can send the unsuspecting Christian.

Take the subject of atheistic evolution. Counter one of his many arguments, and he will dig up another bone of contention. He unearths them like there’s no tomorrow. He couldn’t care less if they are credible. He just wants to bury every Christian under a mountain of fossils, so that he and his stupid oppressive religion disappear from the face of the earth.

Remember, what has gone on between the two of them has been a battle of intellects. Every time a battle is won by the Christian, another skirmish is started. So if the Christian really wants to win him to the Kingdom of God, he must look to the most skilled fisher of men. He must do what Jesus did. He has to move away from the hostility of the intellect, and go directly to the conscience. And he must do it quickly.


Let me change the analogy for a moment from baits and hooks to swords and shields. The sinner is using his intellect as a shield to keep you away from his conscience, and you will never get to the heart if you don’t quickly and purposefully push the shield aside and address his conscience. You must get there, because he will never give up his darling sins if you stay in the intellect.

The Bible says that as Christians, we have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4, italics added). While we can lust after material things, when the Scriptures speak of lusting after “her beauty,” of “burning” lust, and a lust of “uncleanness,” it is obviously referring to sexual lust. It is that lust that gives a sinner pleasure, but the Scriptures warn “Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (James 1:15). The sin he so loves truly is a “deadly” sin. The lethal poison he drinks is sweet to his taste, but it will take him to Hell. He doesn’t believe that because he has no knowledge of sin (see Romans 7:7). Again, he doesn’t understand the consequences of sin, and so he continues to drink iniquity like water, and he will fight to the death for the right to do so.


Let’s say I start a spiritual conversation and have a nibbling fish. He is arguing about bacteria, bones, fossils, Zeus, Thor, so-called biblical contradictions, and quoting Richard Dawkin’s hateful words. As he says that God is a monster and Jesus was a liar, I quietly think to myself, “The Jerk.” Then, motivated by love, I deliberately take control of the conversation and jerk the Law into his rapidly moving jaw. I am a fisher of men, and I don’t want this man to be cast into the lake of fire. I don’t want him to be damned in Hell forever. I therefore don’t let the fish dictate where we are going.

I ask, “Do you think you are a good person?” He says that he knows that he’s a good person (see Proverbs 20:6). I say, “Do you think you have kept the Ten Commandments?” He says he doesn’t believe in them. I tell him that I wasn’t asking if he believed in them. I’m asking if he has kept them. I say, “Let’s go through some of them and see how you will do on Judgment Day.” He says he doesn’t believe in Judgment Day. So, I say, “Let’s just surmise that there is one, and see how you will do. Have you ever told a lie?

Have you ever stolen something?” He’s thoroughly hooked. You can’t back out now because of his pride. I have done what Paul did in Romans 2:21-24. He said, “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal [Eighth Commandment]? You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery [Seventh Commandment]? You who abhor idols [First and Second Commandment], do you rob temples [Eighth Commandment]? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, [Third Commandment]’ as it is written. ‘”

I did what Jesus did in Mark 10:18-19: “So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” He was using the Law to bring the knowledge of sin. The only thing that will make a sin-loving sinner want to give up the battle, is the fear of the Lord. Scripture tells us that it is that fear that will cause him to depart from evil (see Proverbs 16:6). If he doesn’t fear future punishment, he won’t depart from sin, and the way to produce the fear of the Lord is to do what Jesus did. Point to the Law. It’s to do what Paul did. Point to the Law. Felix must be made to tremble (see Acts 24:25). Jerk the hook into the jaw; and do it quickly.

Knowledge that God has appointed a Day in which He will judge the world in righteousness makes sinners see that it’s in their best interest to depart from sin. But, if I may say so, we depart somewhat unwillingly. Fleeing from wrath doesn’t produce contrition (sorrow for sin). Seeing the cross in all its horror, does. Knowing that I am a lawbreaker, and that there are terrible consequences for my actions, makes me fear. But seeing my God pay the fine in the life’s blood of His precious Son, makes me sorry. It breaks my hard heart. The Law produces terror. The cross produces contrition. Without the Law that cruel cross has little meaning. The greater I see my sin in the light of God’s Law (see Romans 7:13), the greater I will understand and appreciate the mercy shown to me at Calvary’s cross.

So, use good apologetics. Find the best bait you can find. Then carefully hide the hook, and as soon as the fish nibbles, jerk the line—swing to the Law. Don’t wait. Do it quickly. Don’t let the sinner shield his conscience for another precious minute. He may not have that long.


Ray Comfort is very passionate about spreading the Gospel far and wide. He has been equipping Christians across the world for more than 30 years by teaching them how to witness the way Jesus did.




Volume 4, 2008




Listen to God's Plan of Salvation  

An intimate Love Letter from Father God to you.

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