There are two sides to every coin and in the same way there are two sides to a sinner’s unbelief. One view is that they are a good person and they are very deserving of heaven, therefore grace means nothing to them and it is totally unnecessary. The other view is that one is so sinful that there is no possibility of God’s grace. The two sides of the sinner’s coin is shown in Jesus’ parable of the Two Sons in Luke 15:11-32. This story is often called the “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” however it is so much more of A Tale of Two Sons – both lost, both blind, both dead in their sin while their forgiving, loving Father who is full of grace and mercy is ready to take on the shame of the world to receive the sinner. Although both sons deserve justice and punishment for their disobedience and sin, heaven rejoices when one sinner repents and puts their trust in Jesus Christ alone.
I was very much like the older son. I was a hypocrite, who on the outside looked like a good person but on the inside was sinful and was relying on my own righteousness. It was not until I came to my senses and viewed my own thoughts, actions, and words in the light of God’s absolute standard. God’s law then destroyed my own view of my goodness, led me to Christ (Galatians 3:24), and drove me to the only one who can save – Jesus Christ. Grace was my only hope. And God’s amazing grace has set me free.
I recently read the following quote in a blog from Horatius Bonar (1808 – 1889), a great Scottish preacher. It addresses the true nature of belief in God in a way that I could not match. Please take the time to read it and please share it with someone.
In all unbelief there are these two things—a good opinion of one’s self and a bad opinion of God. Man’s good opinion of himself makes him think it quite possible to win God’s favor by his own religious performances; and his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work (in convincing of sin) is to alter the sinner’s opinion of himself, and so to reduce his estimate of his own character that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by an excellency of his own. The Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.
But the inquirer denies that he has a good opinion of himself and owns himself a sinner. Now a man may SAY this, but really to KNOW it is something more than SAYING. Besides, he may be willing to take the name of sinner to himself, in common with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own himself such a sinner as God says he is—such a sinner as needs the cross, and blood, and righteousness of the Son of God. It takes a great deal to destroy a man’s good opinion of himself; how difficult it is to make a man think of himself as God does! What but the almightiness of the Divine Spirit can accomplish this?
Unbelief, then, is the belief of a lie and the rejection of the truth. Accept, then, the character of God as given in the gospel; the Holy Spirit will not give you peace irrespective of your views of God’s character. It is in connection with THE TRUTH concerning the true God, “the God of all grace,” that the Spirit gives peace. That which He shows us of ourselves is only evil; that which He shows us of God is only good!