Am I too far gone? In the darkest parts of our hearts, this question surfaces, yet we ignore it because it is safer to rest in our self righteousness. Surely we are not as bad as the one who committed more heinous crimes. The gospel calls us to recognize sin though, and it is the only path of salvation.
D.L. Moody tells this story from his time of preaching in a prison of how light broke through for one man.
“I had got almost through the prison, when I came to a cell and found a man with his elbows on his knees, and his head in his hands. Two little streams of tears were running down his cheeks; they did not come by drops that time.
“What’s the trouble?” I said. He looked up, the picture of remorse and despair. “Oh, my sins are more than I can bear.” “Thank God for that,” I replied. “What,” said he, “you are the man that has been preaching to us, ain’t you?” “Yes.” “I think you said you were a friend?” “I am.” “And yet you are glad that my sins are more than I can bear!” “I will explain,” I said; “if your sins are more than you can bear, won’t you cast them on One who will bear them for you?” “Who’s that?” “The Lord Jesus.” “He won’t bear my sins.” “Why not?” “I have sinned against Him all my life.” “I don’t care if you have; the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses from all sin.”
Then I told him how Christ had come to seek and save that which was lost; to open the prison doors and set the captives free. It was like a cup of refreshment to find a man who believed he was lost, so I stood there, and held up a crucified Saviour to him. “Christ was delivered for our offenses, died for our sins, rose again for our justification.” For a long time the man could not believe that such a miserable wretch could be saved. He went on to enumerate his sins, and I told him that the blood of Christ could cover them all. After I had talked with him I said, “Now let us pray.”
He got down on his knees inside the cell, and I got down outside, and I said, “You pray.”
“Why,” he said, “it would be blasphemy for me to call on God.”
“You call on God,” I said. He knelt down, and, like the poor publican, he lifted up his voice and said, “God be merciful to me, a vile wretch!” I put my hand through the window, and as I shook hands with him a tear fell on my hand that burned down into my soul. It was a tear of repentance. He believed he was lost. Then I tried to get him to believe that Christ had come to save him. I left him still in darkness. “I will be at the hotel,” I said, “between nine and ten o’clock, and I will pray for you.”
Next morning, I felt so much interested, that I thought I must see him before I went back to Chicago. No sooner had my eye lighted on his face, than I saw that remorse and despair had fled away, and his countenance was beaming with celestial light; the tears of joy had come into his eyes, and the tears of despair were gone. The sun of Righteousness had broken out across his path; his soul was leaping within him for joy; he had received Christ as Zacchaeus did—joyfully. “Tell me about it,” I said. “Well, I do not know what time it was; I think it was about midnight. I had been in distress a long time, when all at once my great burden fell off, and now, I believe I am the happiest man in New York.” I think he was the happiest man I saw from the time I left Chicago till I got back again. His face was lighted up with the light that comes from the celestial hills. I bade him goodbye, and I expect to meet him in another world.
Can you tell me why the Son of God came down to that prison that night, and, passing cell after cell, went to that one, and set the captive free? It was because the man believed he was lost.”