2 Corinthians 5:14-15 reads, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
Again and again throughout God’s Word we are instructed to "walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing." Yet why should we so live our lives? What motivation is given to move us to live our lives in such a manner? Certainly the very fact that our Lord has instructed us to so walk and to so live should be motivation enough. Yet our Lord has also provided us with the greatest and most gracious motivation possible. Even so, 2 Corinthians 5:14 opens with the declaration, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” Now, the word “constraineth” here conveys the idea of that which takes a hold of us with force and moves us with that force to act in a certain manner. In this statement our Lord Jesus Christ”s own love for us is the very force that takes a hold of us and moves us to live as we ought to live. Even so, 1 John 4:19 proclaims, "We love him, because he first loved us.” This is the believer's motivation – “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” Then as 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 continues, it reveals three truths that give substance to this motivation. Thus we find the truth concerning our need, the truth concerning Christ's provision, and the truth concerning our responsibility.
Our Need for Christ’s Love
Now, I did not say – Our right to Christ’s love. Nor did I say – Our merit of Christ’s love. We did not have any inherent right to Christ’s love, and we did not in any way merit (that is – earn or deserve) Christ’s love. Sometimes love is given because it is earned, because he person loved is in some way worthy of that love. This is the case of our love toward the Lord our God and Savior. “We love Him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) He is worthy of our love. He has earned our love. However, this is not the case of Christ’s love toward us. We are not worthy of His love. We have not earned His love. He loved us while we were yet wicked, evil, rebellious sinners. Yes, we have a need for Christ’s love – A DESPERATE NEED!
What then is our need for Christ’s love? The closing portion of 2 Corinthians 5:14 gives answer, saying, “Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” Now, this verse is not speaking about physical matters. Rather, it is speaking about spiritual matters. It is not declaring that we all were physically dead at some time in the past. Rather, it is declaring that we all were spiritually dead at some time in the past. According to the teaching of God’s Word, physical death is to be defined as the separation of our living soul and spirit from our physical body. Thus the physical body dies while the living soul and spirit moves on into the life to come. Even so, according to the teaching of God’s Word, spiritual death is also to be defined as a type of separation. It is to be defined as the separation of our spirit from the life of God and from any relationship with God. To be spiritually dead is to be dead to God, to be “without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) Even so, 2 Corinthians 5:14 reveals that we all were thus spiritually dead.
Yet why were we in such a dreadful spiritual condition? Ephesians 2:1 reveals the answer, saying “And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead [spiritually] in trespasses and sins.” Our trespasses and sins against God had made us spiritually dead to God. Our trespasses and sins against God had separated us from God. Yea, in describing our behavior when we were “dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians2:2-3 continues, saying, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [the devil], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” We “were dead in trespasses and sins.” We “walked according to the course of this world,” which God’s Holy Word describes in another passage as “this present evil world.” (Galatians 1:4) We walked according to the rebellious ways of the devil, who is the first great rebel against God. We were “the children of disobedience,” continually going astray from the Lord our God. We were given over to the lusts of our sinful flesh, “fulfiling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” which God’s Holy Word describes in another passage as being “only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
Our spiritual understanding was darkened, and our hearts were blind to God and to His ways. We were spiritually separate from God in every way. Even so, the opening portion of Isaiah 53:6 declares, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Every single one of us had rebelled against God. Every single one of us had rejected the will and ways of God and had chosen our own will and ways. Every single one of us was spiritually dead to God in our own trespasses and sins. Every single one of us stood guilty in the sight of God, worthy of all His judgment against our sin. Even so, the closing line of Ephesians 2:3 proclaims that we “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” In the sight of God, we were already condemned as guilt;, and the wrath of God's judgment was already abiding over us. (John 3:18, 36) Yea, we were already condemned to an eternity under the fierce wrath of Almighty God in the eternal fires of hell. This was our desperate need of salvation. This was our desperate need for Christ’s love.
The Provision of Christ’s Love
In returning to 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 we read, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” Three times in these two verses we are told that Christ died for us sinners. Yea, He died for us all. He died for you as an individual sinner. He died for me as an individual sinner. This is Christ’s love for us. Even so, 1 John 3:16 declares, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.” He loved us, and willingly laid down His life for us. God the Son set aside the glories of heaven and “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8) He came to give His own life as a ransom for us sinners, for you and for me. (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6) He shed His own precious blood and sacrificed His own precious life in order to save us and cleanse us from our sins. He was made a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13) He bore our sins in His own body on the cross of Calvary. (1 Peter 2:24) He was made “sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Yea, Isaiah 53:5-6 proclaims, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD [God the Father] hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” All of our iniquities were laid upon Him. He was delivered over to death and to judgment for our offenses, for our sins, for our wickedness, for our evil imaginations, for our transgressions, for our ungodliness, for our rebellion against God. (Romans 4:25) “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) He suffered for our sins, the all-righteous, sinless Son of God for us unrighteous, wicked sinners. (1 Peter 3:18) Indeed, He did so in order that He might save us from our sins and reconcile us unto God the Father. (Colossians 1:21) He suffered and died in our place. This is Christ’s love for us sinners.
Our Responsibility because of Christ’s Love
In 2 Corinthians 5:15 we read, “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” Christ’s love for us should motivate us and move us to live for Him. Yea, Christ’s love for us should literally force us to live for Him and should literally bind us to stay faithfully living for Him. My beloved brethren, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ loved us and gave Himself as a sacrifice for us. We should not henceforth live unto ourselves. “I want to enjoy my life. I want to have fun. I know that God’s Word says that I should not do this thing, but I like doing it. I know that God’s Word says that I should start doing this other thing, but I really don’t care to do it. I want to live my life my way.” Who is the focus of such statements as these? I am. Yet such ideas are no longer even to be in our thoughts. We are not henceforth to live unto ourselves. We are now to live unto our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us. (Galatians 2:20) He died for us in order to save us from our sins and to provide us with newness of spiritual life. (Matthew 1:21; Romans 6:4) We now have newness of life in Him. Yet this newness of life is not our own. It was purchased with His own shed blood and sacrificial death. Yea, we ourselves are no longer our own; for we ourselves are purchased with His own shed blood and sacrificial death. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Thus we are to live in this newness of life unto Him who died to provide us with this newness of life. In all things we are now to say, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” My beloved brethren, will you now live unto yourself, or unto Him who died for you?
Posted in Weekly Sermon, 2 Corinthians, Love of the Lord, Sacrificial Death of Christ, Serving the Lord