Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”… David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
The “self–incrimination scenario” is at the heart of our evangelistic method and it is very effective. Our evangelistic approach is the only method we know of that uses it and our desire to share it with others is the reason for this website.
It’s not a trick. It’s effective because it’s biblical.
It worked on Judah in Genesis 38:6-26, King David in 2 Samuel 12:1-13 and 14:1-20, King Ahab in 1 Kings 20:35-43 and it works today!
We have found that most people are convinced that God is little more than a glorified Santa Claus who really doesn’t have it in his heart to send people to hell. “Smile, God Loves You” is the prevailing theology.
Most people will admit that they are sinners, but they are not bothered by it because they see God as Someone who will overlook it all.
This is why the “Self-incrimination scenario” works so well. Most people can live with the fact that they are liars, thieves, and murderers. But even the vilest do not want to be seen as someone who thinks they should get by with something that they say others should be punished for. The law is written in the heart of man and even an unbeliever senses the injustice of condemning others for the very same things they intend to get away with.
We think Evangelism Explosion’s question, “What are you going to say to God when He asks why He should let you into His heaven” is brilliant to find out who/Who the person is trusting in. Equally brilliant is Way of the Master’s “good person test” to show the unbeliever how he has failed to be a good person.
However, It has been our experience that many people have the attitude that failing the “good person test” isn’t a big deal because they think the concept of God as a just Judge that must punish every sin is just a crazy idea. But when the unbeliever himself says that liars, thieves, and murderers should be punished, he isn’t so quick to dismiss those things as small potatoes that don’t matter.
You’ll notice that the “self-incrimination scenario” happens very early in the Y.T.M. Dialog. We believe that once the unbeliever sees the predicament that he has placed himself in, his curiosity is peaked and he is interested to see how to get out of it. The “self-incrimination scenario” works so well because in an effort to pass the “good person test” by pronouncing other sinners as worthy of punishment, the unbeliever unwittingly pronounces judgement on himself – the way it happened with Judah, King David, and King Ahab.