The following is the text of a gospel tract Jay Adams wrote during his early pastorate and used for many years. It was first published by Good News Publishers. We are glad to have anyone copy and use it.


In the Massachusetts Bay colony during the early 1700s, convicted men and women literally became “marked men.” For a designated number of years they were required by law to wear, sewed to the sleeve, a large letter made from scarlet cloth revealing the sin which they had committed. A stood for adultery, B for blasphemy, D for drunkenness, F for forgery, I for incest, R for rape, and T for thievery.

That law was later repealed as being too inhumane for our society. And some people today mistakenly believe that because the law was repealed and the letters banished that the crimes they signify have been removed.

Tragically, however, sin has not decreased—only public concern about sin. Though those letters have long since disappeared, the sins they indicate still reach into every home, family, and life in some form or another.

Yes, the letters are gone, but in God’s sight we wear them yet! If suddenly a scarlet letter were to appear on your sleeve, what would it be?

“Impossible!” you say.

Don’t be too sure. The Word of God tells us that before all the universe that very thing shall happen: “Nothing is covered that won’t be uncovered or hidden that won’t be known” (Luke 12:2). What a terrible moment that will be when you stand before God and men to have all of the past revealed!

But I have good news for you. There is One who has died to free you from the guilt and penalty of your sins. Listen to these glorious words: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life by Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Because of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, because at Calvary His precious blood flowed from wounded hands, feet, and side, you may rid yourself from the scarlet letter.

Think of it, Christ, the very Son of God, took all the shame and ignominy of your sin upon Himself. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).

Today as He looks upon you, what does He see—a life branded with the guilt of sin or a heart cleansed by faith in Him? If you have never before looked to Him for forgiveness, for cleansing, for the assurance of eternal life, why not look to Him and trust Him right now? Why should you continue to wear a letter of shame? The choice is yours—the crimson blood or the scarlet letter.

“Let it be known to you brothers that through this Man forgiveness of sins is announced to you, and by Him everybody who believes is justified in everything in regard to which he couldn’t be justified by Moses’ law.” (Acts 13:38-39).



Check out our online courses, including, Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling and  The Use of Scripture in Counseling, taught by Jay Adams!

Books related to counseling others:

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  2. The Christian Counselor’s Manual by Jay Adams
  3. How to Help People Change by Jay Adams
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The Christian Counselor’s New Testament and Proverbs, translated by Jay Adams

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