Our discussion will take the form of a simulated conversation between a Jehovah's Witness named Joe and a Christian named Chris.
Joe: Chris, I don't understand why you Christians believe that Jesus died for your personal sins. The Bible says that when we die we are acquitted of our sins. You see the wages of sin is death. When we die our personal sins are completely wiped out, they are paid for. When we are resurrected our sins will never be accounted again to us because our death has dealt with the payment for our sins.
Chris: Joe, I think that we might be having problems understanding each other when we use the word "sin". What does the word sin mean to you?
Joe: I have always been taught in the Watchtower that it means missing the mark in the sense of not reaching a goal. Sin is like shooting an arrow and missing the target.
Chris: Joe, now that I know your definition of sin, I can understand why sin doesn't seem like a big deal to you.
Joe: Well, it really isn't as big a deal as you think. We just keeping trying. If we miss the target we just try again. Everyone will get a second chance in the resurrection anyway.
Chris: Did Adam get a second chance at the target?
Joe: Well no... Adam deliberately sinned. Jehovah God did not give him a second chance.
Chris: Did Adam's death pay for his sin?
Joe: No. He had no payment for his sin.
Chris: Well, if our death acquits us of our sins, then why didn't Adam's death pay for his sin?
Joe: To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure.
Chris: Joe, in the Old Testament, what kind of sacrifice for sins did Jehovah require?
Joe: Jehovah required a perfect sacrifice one that was spotless, blameless and pure.
Chris: Are you spotless, blameless or pure?
Joe: Well, no. Of course not. I've sinned just like everyone has. I am trying my best, but I am not perfect.
Chris: Then how can your death pay for your sins? The payment that brings acquittal of sins must be spotless and holy. Can you show me in scripture where an impure sacrifice was acceptable by Jehovah as a payment for sin?
Joe: No. Jehovah rejected a sacrifice that wasn't spotless or pure.
Chris: Your right Joe. That's why each one of us is incapable of paying for our own sins. God's target is perfection. But instead of a bow and arrow type of target, God's target is so far past us that it is like a long jump contest where the target is the far side of the Grand Canyon. All of humanity stands at the edge and each tries to jump as far as he can to reach the target. Everyone from the weakest jumper to the best world class jumper misses the end of the target because no one is able to jump far enough on his own. You see that's why Jesus death is so important to us today. He was the only man who by his completely sinless nature was capable of jumping that canyon and by having the very nature of God has the power to take us with him to the other side.
Joe: Well, Jesus did die for our sin.
Chris: If Jesus died for our sin, then why does the Watchtower say that your death pays for your sins?
Joe: Jesus died for our Adamic sin. It is up to us to strive diligently to overcome sinful tendencies. Our death would pay for our failure to hit God's mark.
Chris: But if Jesus died for some of your sins, those you inherited from Adam, but not for your own personal sins, then you are lost. You will never be acceptable to Jehovah.
Joe: Why do you say that?
Chris: Because it would be a serious problem if Jesus only took us half way to God. It is like Jesus taking you half way across the Grand Canyon. You would be grateful that he took you that far and you are much farther ahead of everyone else who doesn't believe in Jesus. But you are now on your own at the half way mark. Do you think that you could jump the rest of the way yourself?
Joe: That's ridiculous!
Chris: Is it really? It is about as ridiculous as saying that Jesus paid for part of the price and then you as an imperfect corrupted sacrifice are necessary to pay the rest. Either Jesus paid the entire price for you or he didn't pay it at all!
Joe: But I am not responsible for my sins. They are a result of Adam's sin.
Chris: The Bible says in Ezekiel 18:4 that the soul that sins shall die. Joe, you are responsible for your own personal sins. You cannot blame Adam for those sins.
Joe: But Jehovah just forgives me when I sin and when I confess my sin.
Chris: He forgives only when there is a payment made for that sin. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22 that without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness) of sins. If Jesus' death only covered a sinful act by Adam thousands of years ago and is not relevant for the sin that you committed yesterday or one that you will commit tomorrow, then your death will never be acceptable as payment or as an acquittal for those sins.
Joe: But I do many good works. I attend all five meetings of the Society each week and I spend many hours preaching door to door. Surely Jehovah will accept me for the good works that I do.
Chris: Joe, let's discuss your good works next week.