In his book Great Themes of the Bible, Louis Albert Banks told of the time D.L. Moody visited a prison called “The Tombs” to preach to the inmates. After he had finished speaking, Moody talked with a number of men in their cells. He asked each prisoner this question, “What brought you here?” Again and again he received replies like this: “I dont deserve to be here.” “I was framed.” “I was falsely accused.” “I was given an unfair trial.” Not one inmate would admit he was guilty.
Finally, Moody found a man with his face buried in his hands, weeping. “And whats wrong, my friend?” he inquired. The prisoner responded, “My sins are more than I can bear.” Relieved to find at least one man who would recognize his guilt and his need of forgiveness, the evangelist exclaimed, “Thank God for that!” Moody then had the joy of pointing him to a saving knowledge of Christa knowledge that released him from his shackles of sin.
What an accurate picture of the two contrasting attitudes spoken of in Jesus parable of the Pharisee and the publican! As long as the sinner claims innocence and refuses to acknowledge his transgressions before the Lord, he does not receive the blessings of redemption. But when he pleads guilty and cries out, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,” he is forgiven. Gods pardon is available to everyone, but it is experienced only by those who admit guilt and trust Christ. To be “found,” a person must first recognize that he is “lost.”