There is a corrosiveness in being human which is inescapable – apart from a turning from one thing and toward another. This is the very nature of repentance. The word literally means to turn away and turn toward.
This is how we escape the inevitable. While it is convenient to believe we live on a continuum of who is better and who is worse (there are many “good people”) the God Story reality is that it is only the presence of God in us which can change an oppressor’s heart, a corrupt politician’s intentions, or release any submerged, addictive heart. Jesus’ brother James (can you imagine growing up with a perfect-hearted older brother?) gives us insight into this potential of escape:
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the cause your self-pleasures that cause you to wage war with others? You covet what others have and you do not; so you commit relational murder. You are jealous and cannot obtain it; so you fight and organize relational war.
What you do not have is because you do not ask. Or you ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so you may spend what you desire on your self-gratifying pleasures.
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks with no purpose: “He jealously longs for the Spirit which He has made to live expansively inside of us?”
But He gives a rich and surpassing grace to us. This is why the Word says, “God sets Himself against the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” You should submit then to God. Make your stand against the devil and he will run away from you. Draw near and press yourself to God and He will do the same to you. Cleanse your hands with innocent actions and quit missing the mark; and purify and reset your hearts: you cannot succeed in God by being double-minded. Rather choose the hardships of suffering for choices which are right; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom and in so doing exchange what you value. Humble yourselves in the eyes of the Lord, and He will raise you to new heights.” – James 4:1-10
Peter must have heard the same thing from Jesus as James. “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” – 2 Peter 1:4
We must each find our own deliverance from the corrosive impact of our lost heart. This is the only way we will ever become “a good person” inasmuch as only God is good (Luke 18:19). It is only from within that we will have any hope of becoming free. When God’s Spirit is overcoming within us. As Peter says 1) He has given us His amazing promises and 2) we share in His divine nature and 3) we escape the corrosive soup in which we all find ourselves.