The Love of Christ Constrains Me
9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. 12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor 5:9-15 NKJV)
In a nutshell, that is the Christian walk. Not the experience of salvation, but the fruit of it. That is the direction of every true convert to Christianity, and is essential to maintaining victory over the sin that once held you captive.
Ask yourself this question: Does that passage describe the effect that Jesus has had on you?
Before I came into the Pure Life Ministries Residential Program, I professed to be a Christian. But if I were to describe my Christianity, it wouldn’t be anywhere near what that passage describes.
Pornography was not simply an addiction in my life. It was the premiere thing that I went after. It was an obsession. I was its slave.
A profession of faith is not enough to save us. It’s not enough to be convinced that Jesus was a historical figure. Something must happen inside us so that we become a confession of Christ to a world that is already condemned.
How does that happen? How are we to live our lives as a confession of Christ?
From our main text, I believe that there were two main factors that guided and motivated Paul along his race. One is found in verse 11; “knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord…” You will not find that kind of motivation preached about in most churches. That word for “terror” is the Greek word phobos. It’s where we get our word phobia.
Hell is real. And it is meant for the sinner. The problem for mankind is that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” God’s glory is perfection. His justice demands that He can only associate Himself with that which is holy.
But praise God that mercy triumphs over judgment. Mercy doesn’t dissolve judgment or take it away, in the sense of eradicating it entirely from the core of who God is. God is still just. But mercy is the way by which we can become holy, because it’s through Christ’s holiness that we are brought near to God. Jesus’ sacrifice was a holy sacrifice. Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
There is a balance found in true Christianity that includes both His justice and His mercy. But the grace message of today will tell you that the sacrifice of Jesus neutralized the justice side of God and now all He is happy, happy, happy. Well, He is happy. But because God is so in control of His emotions, He can be perfectly happy and perfectly angry at the same time.
So, the terror of the Lord was one key component to Paul’s confessional Christianity.
The next thing he mentions is equally as important.
It’s found in verse 14 of our chapter, and it is “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” The core of this word is to hedge or hem in. To be so overtaken by something that you have choice but to move with it and its current. You are at its mercy.
The Greek word that is translated here as “constraineth” is used only 12 times in the bible, but it is used in a variety of situations. It is often used when talking about people being overcome with diverse diseases. Their bodies had no choice but to respond in certain ways to the infection controlling their body. They were constrained by disease.
A good illustration of this is toothpaste. As pressure is applied to the tube, it constrains the toothpaste to exit the only way it can. There is absolutely no choice for the toothpaste. It has to come out through that hole at the top.
Paul tells us here in verse 14 what it was that gave him no choice, what forced him to act the way he did on the Narrow Road. And notice how it is stated. It is the love of Christ, not his love for Christ that has the constraining power over his life.
Oswald Chambers wrote, ““(Paul) was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by ‘the love of Christ.’ Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of Christ. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience. The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God.”
This is what will combat the extremely dangerous false grace teaching that is pervasive in our day. We need to be reminded that the grace of God is not a license to sin. If anything, the grace of God has given us license to perform righteous works for Him! It gives us license to say no to sin! To live soberly and godly in this present age! We are able now to be slaves to righteousness instead of slaves to sin! Hallelujah!
This is extremely important in our day and age. It’s not enough to have a profession, as we already mentioned. And it’s not enough to do things in the name of Jesus. Jesus Himself said that there would be many in the last day who had done many mighty miracles in His name, and yet, He never knew them. There was no intimacy with Him. They had no love relationship with Him. They were claiming to do things in His name as if they were married to Him. But Jesus tells them that their actions weren’t founded on love. There was no, “we love Him, because He first loved us.” That element of their Christian walk was not there. The love of Christ did not constrain them.
How did sexual sin grow in our lives? Because we nourished the hunger. We scratched that itch, over and over again. We loved our sin with all our heart.
But it works the other way as well. If we would begin to give our hearts over to God, we would see the love of God begin to grow in our hearts.
It is my prayer that His amazing love would so captivate us and so compel us that it doesn’t get glossed over as if you’ve heard of it before. His love is something that shines in the darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it.
If the Lord has saved you, and you desire to please Him in all that you do, the way to maintain a pure life is to let the love of Christ constrain you that you should live no longer for yourselves, but for Him who died for you and rose again.