“Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Day when Jesus washed my sins away!”

That gospel song speaks to the awesome forgiveness we experience as Christians as a result of what Jesus has done for us. And how we all need it! Nothing in my past held against me. I’m washed clean.

Some variety of the sinner’s prayer is often promoted as the critical step in becoming a Christian:

“Dear Jesus, I am sorry for my sins. I believe you are the Son of God, who came and died and rose again for me. Please forgive me of my sins, and come into my heart. Amen.”

Oh Happy Day, indeed!

But that’s not enough. The forgiveness step in salvation, as wonderful as it is, is only one small piece. Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers present a much more radical picture of what it means to become a follower of Jesus.

Paul said clearly, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9) That’s clear. Believe in your heart. Confess with your mouth. You are saved! Hallelujah!

But that’s only the beginning.

Jesus called His followers to leave everything and follow Him. (See Luke 14:26-33) He presented an unbelievably high standard of behavior, character, and service. Jesus showed that He is much more interested in your future than your past.

God doesn’t only want to wipe out the sins of your past: He wants to radically transform you! That means changing your body, mind, and soul. It means taking the angry or addicted or fearful or cheating or lustful or selfish you and turning you into someone who is characterized by kindness, grace, courage, generosity, love, strength, integrity, joy, and hope. It means changing your DNA, making you different first on the inside, and then on the outside as well.

Paul said it this way: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

Imagine you’re a classic car buff. One day you find a classic ’57 chevy 2-door hardtop – broken down, motor rusted, parts missing. For you, it’s love at first sight.

But you love her too much to let her remain in that broken-down condition. You “forgive” her of her past, but you also set about restoring her to the glory you know she can become.

God loves you just the way you are. But He also loves you too much to let you stay that way.

Oh Happy Day, when Jesus washed MY sins away! And I will never forget that day.

But it will be an even Happier Day when my character is transformed to be just like Him, when His purpose is fulfilled through my life, and when I get to be with Him in eternity.

Forgiveness is just the beginning. Transformation is God’s bigger goal for you. Don’t stop before you experience the whole thing!

Oh Happy Day indeed!

Your Turn: Are you looking for anything more than forgiveness? What kind of change do you see God working in you? Leave a comment below.

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