Here are some personal examples, of “law to the proud”, each with it’s own result. The funny thing is, each conversation began because someone asked me what I was reading, and I happened to be reading either Pilgrim’s Progress, or The Way of the Master. It looks like just carrying a Christian book with you is a conversation starter.
Story #1: “Messengers from outer space”. I was at the hospital emergency room (!) in the waiting area and I started chatting with the fellow next to me. I could see that he was reading a New Age metaphysics book. I asked him about his book, and he went on to tell me that it was about how the ascended beings have appeared to people to tell them secret mysteries of the universe, and the messages were contained in the book. He said he was really into listening to what the ‘ascended masters’ had to reveal about the truth of the cosmos. I told him that I had heard about that, and that that is very popular, and he said something about wanting knowledge and so on.
He asked me what I was reading. (I was reading Pilgrim’s Progress.) He asked me what that was about and I told him it was about the life of a person who trusts and follows Jesus Christ. He started telling me how he was into the deeper mysteries. He was telling me about the New Age stuff he was into. Then I talked to him about the true God, about creation, sin, God’s justice, and judgment day. He said he was raised Christian and knew about that stuff and that he thought he was a good person. So I casually went through the law, explaining what it really meant, mentioning again that all will stand before God.
He did not scoff, mock, or tell me to stop, so after pausing to give him the chance to end the conversation, he was still listening to me, quietly. Before he was acting all proud and wise, and now he was quiet. So then I went on to tell him all about the love of God, grace, mercy, the work of Christ on the cross, about forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. (I try to use as much scripture as I can remember.) He was open and listened to it all quietly. Then he was called in and we said goodbye and “it was good talking to you.” He was first proud, and then humble, so I gave him law, and then the gospel. He was “open”.
Story #2: Ninety One years old. I was at the house of my dear elderly relative, and I happened to have with me, my copy of WOTM that I was working on. She asked me what the book was, and I told her that it was a Christian book that teaches Christians how to share the gospel in a biblical way. (She had heard the gospel from me before, and rejected it.) She continued asking me questions about what that meant! So, I tried to answer her questions.
I told her that it teaches how we can use the Ten Commandments to show people why we have such need for Jesus. She asked, “The ten commandments?” She yelled at my mom in the other room, “Do you remember the ten commandments?” My mom yelled back, “Yes, dad used to teach them to me when I was a little girl.” She asked me to explain what this was about. This was a surreal moment, knowing she was not interested in the gospel, though she is ‘religious’. So per her request, I very slowly, with love, and respect, went through the commandments with her, explaining our sin against God.
All of a sudden, she went into a rage, turned red and started screaming at me. She yelled at me that “if you want to preach to someone, why don’t you go down to the street corner (in my neighborhood) and find some real sinners to preach to!” She kept yelling, “I’m not a sinner!” She then yelled, “No more God! No more talk of religion, ever!”
On the 4th, I was at a barbeque, and a friend asked me, “When do you stop witnessing to relatives, or people you see regularly? How do you know when to stop?” Well, I guess the answer is, when they tell you to stop and to never, ever again speak of God or “whatever else from the bible”. My relative was proud, and remained proud, so I stopped. She is “not open”.
Story #3: College Professor. I was at the park with my kids, sitting on a bench, reading WOTM. A lovely family approached: mother, father, children. They had four or five children, from teen down to toddler, and the mother was expecting. I chatted with them and then the mother started to follow the toddler down the path, waving to us. I was chatting with the father and found out that they just moved from the midwest; they were new to California, and he was very excited about his new teaching job.
Before the midwest, they immigrated from their homeland in central Africa. He was teaching at our local Catholic University. He asked me what my book was about, and I told him it teaches Christians about sharing the gospel. To make a long conversation short, I’ll summarize. He declared to me that he was a “really good person”, and was quite self-confident in his (self-righteous) standing before God, as a religious person. (He was a theological liberal, social gospel, good works person.)I saw my old self in him. I was exactly the same way, right before God saved me. I was “a good person”, too.
I transitioned very slowly and casually into the law, giving examples on each point, and interestingly, he became quiet. I could see a look on his face of sober concern. He did not defend himself anymore, but asked, something to the effect of, “Then how can we be right with God?” This opened the opportunity to share the grace part of the gospel.
Here was an African Roman Catholic university professor, and he was hearing the gospel for perhaps the first time. He was first proud, then humble after his conscience had to deal with the law, asking how anyone can be right with God. He was then ready to hear the gospel of grace. He gave me his card and said I may email him with more on the topic. I sent him a few gospel message articles and thanked him for our conversation at the park. He was “open”.
Some people will remain proudly “hard-hearted”. But in the case of a person who does eventually come to repentance, the law “breaks proud, hard hearts”, and the message of grace and mercy, the cross, “heals broken, humbled hearts”.
In the proclaiming of the creation of God, the righteousness of God, the holiness of God, the justice of God, the judgment of God, the law, and/or the grace and mercy of God in Christ by the cross; in all these things, God is glorified, whatever the response of the person, whether they be proud or humble, unbelieving or believing, rebellious or repentant.