For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.(2 Corinthians 5:21)
Marin Luter called it the great exchange. It was the transfer of Gods wrath towards us because of my sin to Jesus and Jesus rightness to us. Its an amazing thought and one that is meant to be meditated on so that we truly grasp just how wonderful it is.
Sometimes we forget just how good God is and begin to think that our own goodness will be alright. That someone all of the evil that transpires in our hearts will be overlooked or down played. That our “good deeds” will somehow play to our favor when eternity comes around. We forget that it is His righteousness that saves. That it is His goodness that makes it all possible.
This all was brought to the forefront of my mind again last night during our youth Bible study. As we discussed what it meant to be saved. The questions of , “What does it take to be saved?” and “How do you know you are saved?” started to pop up. Many of these questions coming from students that at one time or another have gone to an alter of prayer at a camp or retreat. They have repeated after someone and then been told that they are saved. However their is no life transformation. Their hearts and minds continue to function in the same manner, but now they are really worse off because they think they have a ticket into heaven.
All that to say that they, and many people that come to any given church on a Sunday, are still operating out of this wrong idea that they said a prayer and now they have to try to be “good”. The only problem being that they may be good, but their not Jesus good. They still think their goodness (righteousness) will get them in with God. So they ask questions like, “How do I stop cussing?”, “How do I stop stealing?” and “How do I stop thinking bad thoughts?”. These are good questions and anyone that knows anything about behavior modification could easily direct them into habits and ways or stopping all of these things. They would, in many cases, be able to stop all of those things and become “good” people, but “good” people still burn in hell.
My goal is not to make anyone a “good” person. My hope and prayer is that they could come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That in His great mercy and kindness that He would allow them to see their sin. That He would break their arrogance and bring them to Jesus. Then and only then will their hearts and minds be changed by the Holy Spirit. When that begins to happens they will still have struggles and temptations, but over time will begin to look more and more like their Savior.
They won’t just be good, they’ll be Jesus good.