The Love Of Christ Constrains Us

W. Terry Varner
October 8, 2017

The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge thought highly of the apostle Paul. He considered Paul a genius. While persecuting the church, Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul, was converted to Jesus and this changed his life as nothing else possible could. He discovered the riches of the unsearchable riches of Christ (cf. Eph. 3:8). He esteemed the gospel of Christ as being more excellent than anything he had ever known. For Saul (Paul), the gospel was the most astounding revelation he ever knew. He was martyred in its defense.

Saul, as a Pharisee under the Law of Moses, was bent on persecuting those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah. When he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he realized He was the long-awaited Messiah and he became obedient to the gospel of Jesus.

“The Love of Christ Constrains Us.” Paul writes: “For the love of Christ constrains [compels, commands] us . . . that He died for all” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). These words describes the secret of Paul’s life and service. They ought to describe the life and service of each of us who are God’s redeemed children. The phrase has a two-fold meaning: First, the phrase is descriptive of Christ’s love for the sinner and His willingness to die on Calvary resulting in “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). As expressed by Paul elsewhere, “But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This involves His atoning death for man. “For He [God] made Him [Christ] to be sin [our sin-bearer or sacrifice] for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Second, the phrase secondarily alludes to the love of Christians for Christ. Consider again: “For the love of Christ constrains [compels, commands] . . . that they which live should not henceforth live to themselves, but to Him who died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Man needs to be reconciled to God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). God’s grace enables Jesus to be the Mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5-6). When man obeys Jesus as Savior, he has embraced the richest treasure ever to be owned by him.

Christ Gave Himself Voluntarily for Man. Jesus is the Delight of the Father (cf. Isa. 42:1). He came to do the will of His Father (cf. John 6:38). In that man had no acceptable sacrifice, Jesus became our sacrifice and did so voluntarily. The Scriptures constantly expressed His delight in doing so: “I delight to do Your will” (Ps. 40:8; Heb. 10:9). He suffered willing for “when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes we were healed” (1 Peter 2:23-24).

Have you ever considered that His substitutionary sacrifice for our sins had not been voluntary, God could not have accepted it. His sacrifice shows He loved to satisfy God’s justice so that there would be mercy in harmony with God’s truth and holiness. Every step He took was a step of love and obedience to God’s will. His love for His holy Father and for the sinner served as motives of His vicarious suffering.

The love Christ manifested in His substitutionary sacrifice is infinite in its effectiveness. It is so powerful that it will set the guilty sinner free of his sins when he obeys the gospel. No wonder Paul wrote: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:10).