As a fan of the Batman movie franchise, I'm reminded of one of my favorite villains, Two-Face. Originally a moral hero and combatant of crime, Harvey Dent suffered a horrible fate when half of his face was burned off. As a result, he was not only left with a badly scarred face, but a loss of sanity as his mental instability caused him to waver between good and evil. In an effort to settle his indecision, he carried a coin in his pocket that was scratched on one side, and pristine on the other from which all of his decisions, good and bad, derived. Whenever a situation presented itself, he would flip the coin. If it landed on the marred side, he would commit the crime, and if it landed on the shiny side, he would refrain from the offense. Interestingly, the fate of the coin flip did not have any affect on the very character of Two-face. No matter which side came up, he was still a demented threat to society because it takes only one crime to make a man a criminal regardless of all the right decisions he makes along the way.
The natural man faces a similar dilemma in the pursuit of goodness. Likewise, he carries a coin defined by the two sides of legalism and moralism. The legalistic side is scarred perhaps because his soul has been crushed not only by its excess of human requirement, but also an accompanying attitude that enjoys it! Although he is already naturally blinded to the glory of Christ, he is tragically driven deeper into darkness by the venomous spirit of legalism. Superstition seems to be his disposition as the "things he wears" and the "places he goes" equate to the broken mirrors and black cats of divine acceptance.
By grace alone, he will wake up and escape from this satanic philosophy, but in an unwitting attempt to run and never look back, the moralistic side of the coin inevitably appears which is usually preceded by a season of liberation. Indeed, in his desire to be freed from legalism, he goes to great lengths to decontaminate himself as he engages in the activities once considered iillegal. One thing is for sure, he has no intention of going back to the dark side of the coin again! Eventually at the end of short-lived freedom he will be entranced by the allure of the shiny side of the coin. It's moralistic identity assures a kinder and gentler human striving. It doesn't focus as much on impermissible action but rather on pragmatic action. It preaches the need to reach his human potential as opposed to a lingering of human failures. This philosophy often proceeds (behind the guise of Christianity) with a technique for goodness, but ultimately it is proved to be mere human endeavor and the result is not unlike that of legalism! Why? Because moralism and legalism are just different sides of the same coin! Legalism promises acceptance through rule-keeping while moralism promises self-improvement through pragmatism. Both in stark contrast to biblical Christianity, legalism views the Bible as a rule book while moralism uses the Bible as a handbook. However, the damning effect is not attributed to either side of the coin, but to the coin itself! For no matter where the coin lands after it is cast, the exertion is innately human, and until then it remains deep-seated in the pocket of human raiment.
Conversely, the Gospel is a completely different coin where divine revelation is rendered from both sides. First there is the revelation of our spiritual non-existence that is the sheer human inability to achieve divine goodness. By it, we are informed of our corrupted nature with which we have no chance apart from grace to cause our own existence. Just as an infant cannot bring about the cause of his own conception, we are not the cause of our own spiritual birth! The other side of the coin affords us a glimpse of the Glory of Christ displayed predominately on the Cross. Together, the two sides illumined by the Holy Spirit give us true spiritual sight! When you begin to really "see" the glory of Christ against the backdrop of the ruined human soul the Gospel increases in focus, igniting faith, and leads to genuine goodness!