Calvary Road Baptist Church

“MINISTERIAL MOTIVATION” Part 2

Second Corinthians 5.14-17

 

I was so excited when preparing this message that I could hardly sit still in my library. In our text we are going to be exposed to two verses that are very familiar to every child of God who has known Christ for any length of time and has read his Bible. You will remember from this morning in our study of Second Corinthians, we began to examine the things that motivated the Apostle Paul, those things which truly moved him to be great for God. In that message, dealing with Second Corinthians 5.11-13, we came to clearly understand that Paul was powerfully moved to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by his healthy and his spiritual fear of the Lord. Paul had no trouble with the concept of worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ on one hand and having a horror of disappointing Him or disobeying Him, and thus being subject to His chastening, on the other hand.

The reason Paul had no problem with such an attitude toward his Lord was because Paul’s motivation was balanced. Was he motivated by the terror of the Lord? Oh my, yes. But that wasn’t his only motivation. He was also motivated by the love of Christ. Are you motivated by the love of Christ to serve the true and living God? Through the course of this message my prayer is that you will certainly discover for yourself whether you are or whether you are not motivated to serve Christ by the love of Christ. Remembering that the terror of the Lord produced a certain kind of behavior in the life of a Christian, let us also note what the love of Christ produces in that same believer’s life. Read with me Second Corinthians 5.14-17:

 

14    For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15    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.

16    Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

I’m sure that you recognize both the fourteenth and the seventeenth verses as being almost as familiar to most Christians as John 3.16. What I trust God will enable us to accomplish at this time is a right understanding of how both of these verses, as well as the verses they bracket in our text, should affect and influence the Christian’s life as they affected Paul’s life.

The theme of the passage is obviously the love of Christ. But what does the love of Christ do? What does the love of Christ accomplish? What is the practical result of the love of Christ? There are two things that the love of Christ clearly accomplished in the lives of Paul, Timothy, and other Christians:

 

First, THE LOVE OF CHRIST AFFECTS THE CHRISTIAN’S BEHAVIOR

 

Paul begins verse 14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us....”

 

Realizing that the word “constraineth” means to “hold together,” to “bind together,” let’s discuss the ways in which Paul, Timothy, and their other ministry colleagues were held together by this love which Christ has for His Own.[1] It’s quite obvious that Paul does not specifically detail in what ways they were “constrained” by the love of Christ, or kept from unraveling by the love of Christ, but we can agree on what Paul is referring to:

First, what Paul is not referring to. Remembering what Paul and Timothy endured for the cause of Christ, it should not be all that difficult to appreciate what the lost person would do, what the person who did not experience the effects of the love of Christ would do, if he went through what those two servants of God went through. Would it be stretching things to maintain that Paul was probably preserved from nervous breakdowns by the love of Christ? Preserved from discouragements that lead to giving up and dropping out? Preserved from frustrations that would lead a lost person, or an unspiritual saved person, to wild spending sprees, periods of childish irresponsibility, episodes of testimony destroying behavior? I think we can all agree that the love of Christ, on the negative side of the ledger, while never sparing Paul any of the pain, heartache, and disappointment that we have all experienced, and more besides, did keep Paul from completely unraveling, like so many do who are not constrained by the love of Christ.

Positively, what Paul is referring to. The love of Christ not only kept Paul and Timothy from doing things that were bad or wrong or harmful, but they were also constrained to continue doing and being those things which were positive and beneficial and productive. But for the love of Christ, Paul would not have continued serving God and bringing souls to Christ when he “despaired even of life,” Second Corinthians 1.8. But for the love of Christ he would have simply sat in his jail cell and moaned in Philippi instead of faithfully representing Christ and bringing the Philippian jailer to Christ, Acts 16.30-34. In short, in many ways so obvious to his readers that he feels no need to illustrate or cite examples, Paul was constrained, was literally held together and kept from unraveling, by the love of Christ. Obviously, the love of Christ had a powerful impact on his behavior. Does it have a powerful impact on your behavior? I trust that the love of Christ is shown to dynamically influence your behavior.

 

Then, WE SEE THAT THE LOVE OF CHRIST AFFECTS THE CHRISTIAN’S BELIEFS

 

I want you to pay very careful attention to the fact that Paul refers to his and Timothy’s beliefs, and not their observations. The reason for this is because what we are about to see came not to Paul by observation, but by revelation. He was able to “judge” the things he writes, not as a result of normal thought processes, but as God communicated truth to him by revelation. Notice how God’s truth determined what Paul and Timothy believed about Christians.

In the next half of verse 14 we see Paul’s belief concerning the believer’s past:

 

“. . . because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”

 

Have you ever given thought to what Paul is saying here? He is telling the Corinthians that when Jesus Christ died on the cross, because that is exactly where One died for all, everyone died with Him. I say this because although the final word is the word “dead,” which is a noun in English, the Greek word is the aorist verb for having died. Thus, literally, it is “that if one died for all, then all died.” That is Paul’s judgment, his conclusion. How is this to be understood? Paul is here telling each reader that your personal history as a sinful man in the sight of God ended the moment Jesus Christ offered Himself a ransom for your sin. So far as God is concerned, then, the person you were when you were conceived a sinner in your mother’s womb died when Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross. Seem hard to believe? Then let’s read some other passages penned by Paul to see if they agree.

 

Galatians 2.20:  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

 

Romans 6.6-11: 6   Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7      For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8      Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

9      Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10    For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11    Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Romans 7.1-4: 1    Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

2      For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

3      So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

4      Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

 

Know what Paul believed about his past and about the personal past history of every Christian? Something that more than one of you here this evening needs to realize. You don’t have a past as far as God is concerned, for from the moment you trusted Christ you started from scratch. That is your past. Thus, the baggage from your past that you lug around and use as justification to feel sorry for yourself is completely unnecessary. Therefore, let it go.

But it’s not just the believer’s past that Paul had powerful beliefs about. It’s the believer’s present as well, 5.15-17:

 

15    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.

16    Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

The plan is outlined in verse 15:

 

“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.”

 

This plan is this: When Jesus Christ died, Christian, you also died to sin. Of course, this only applies to those who’ve trusted Christ as their Savior, but for believers the retroactive benefit is that when Jesus Christ died you died to sin. But it doesn’t end right there. You see, you were given the gift of eternal life when you were saved. And the reason you were given life in Christ at the time of your death to sin was so that you could live your new life, not for yourself as you did in the past, but for Christ. I read, “that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” That’s the plan for your present life, Christian. And it’s a plan that was actually lived out by the grace of God in the life of Paul. The practice is shown in verse 16:

 

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”

 

The term “flesh” is used by Paul to refer to all that is natural in a man. It’s your natural desires and longings, as well as your individual personality and emotional make-up. It includes the sum total of everything you are as a result of the information you have gathered through your five senses. It is you, unaffected and uninfluenced by God or the things of God. Notice what Paul is telling us, with reference to the “flesh.” He no longer looks at his fellow man through the eyes of the flesh. He makes no evaluation of men based upon their social standing, their income, their education, their race, or their culture. The only thing about his fellow man that Paul thought to have any importance at all was their spiritual condition. Is he saved or is he lost? And what about Christ? Same thing. He no longer evaluates Christ with respect to the things of the flesh. Was Christ a great author? No. Was He highly educated? No. Was He a successful entrepreneur? No. Was He highly thought of by His Own people and in His Own country? No. Evaluating Christ through the eyes of flesh will result in every lost man staying lost. However, when you look at Christ through the eyes of faith, when you examine Him in light of things that are truly important, eternal values, you will see that He is the altogether lovely Son of God, the Savior of Mankind. In the present God’s plan for you is to live for Christ, not for yourself. And if you put that plan into practice you will cease to evaluate your fellow man according to the measuring rods of mankind and you will begin to ask this one question: Is he saved or is he lost? The principle underlying both the plan and the practice mentioned in verses 15 and 16 is found in verse 17:

 

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

 

This verse is a classic first class conditional sentence. Paul is very strongly affirming some profound truths that are definitely true if the first statement, or the condition, is true. Are you in Christ? You are in Christ if you’ve trusted Christ as your personal Savior to the saving of your sinful soul. Does the phrase “any man” apply to you? Yes, it does. My friend, you can be dead to sin because of your past, according to verse 14. And you can live for Christ instead of for yourself, according to the plan of verse 15. And you can relate to everything and everyone differently, according to the practice of verse 16. Why? Because of three interconnected truths. First, because you are in Christ you are a new creature. God did not renovate you when He saved you. He regenerated you. Neither did He reform you. He started from scratch and made a new you. You have the same old body and the same behavior and personality patterns because of the things that are stored in that part of your body called a brain, but in God’s Own time you are going to heaven and you’ll get a new one of those as well. That said, understand this: When you trusted Christ your wife got a new husband. When you were saved your husband got a new wife. Second, because you are in Christ the old things are passed away. Think you need a smoke? Think you need a drink? Think you need a line? Think you need to do or think any of the things you did or thought when you were unsaved? Don’t believe your senses. Don't listen to your body when it screams, “I need to commit sin like in the old days.” Folks, that is a lie. If you have to choose between believing what your body tells you and what God tells you about the “need” to commit sin, believe God. Third, because you are in Christ all things are become new. Not, all things can become new. All things are become new. Not all things will become new. It reads “all things are become new.” All things have become new for the Christian.

 

How many of you folks remember me telling you that what you believe determines how you behave? Well, verses 14-17 teach that very thing. In the first part of verse 14 Paul told us how he behaved. He was literally held together by the love of Christ. Then, in the second part of verse 14 through verse 17, Paul told us what he believed. He believed that when you are saved you become dead to sin. He believed that when you are saved God’s plan is for you to live for Christ, not live for yourself. He believed that when you are saved your whole way of looking at your fellow man and at Christ will change. And he believed that all of this is because when you are saved you really do become a brand new creation of God.

If you believe the things found in verses 14 through 17, if you really believe these things, then you also know how much Christ has to love you and me to give us such a wonderful salvation as this, complete with its fresh start at living. Because Paul realized how much Christ loves us and those as yet unsaved to give us such a salvation, he returned Christ’s love for him. He lived out what the Apostle John wrote in First John 4.19 and First John 5.3:

 

“We love him, because he first loved us.”

 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”

 

Because Christ first loved him and showed it by so marvelously saving him, Paul showed his love for Christ in return by living the life described in our text for today. In essence, Paul so believed that Jesus Christ loved him that he loved Jesus Christ in return and showed it by the life he lived for Christ. What a powerful motivational force love, real love, can be in a believer’s life. As it was in Paul’s life, so should it be in our lives as well. However, love all by itself is not sufficient motivation for a Christian to live a consistent life. Witness the proponents of love and only love in Christian circles and you’ll see that this bears out. To live a consistent Christian life your motivation needs to be balanced.

Are your motives to serve the Savior balanced? We saw this morning that the terror of the Lord produced obedience in the life of Paul. And the terror of the Lord produces obedience in everyone’s life . . . for a while. But the terror of the Lord as a motivation, all by itself, can only motivate for so long. In the end it produces a Christian who talks about the fear of God but who doesn’t really serve God. How about love as a motivating factor in a believer’s life? Have you taken stock of the various shades of Christianity found in Southern California which espouse a love and only love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? How effective is love all by itself as a motivation to serve God? Doesn’t appear to be very powerful for very long, does it? The crowd that preaches love and only love for God and Christ is the same crowd that refuses to separate from sin and ungodliness. It’s the same crowd that shows no concern for doctrinal purity. It’s the same crowd that thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to run with liberals and modernists so long as they say “Praise God” and “Hallelujah.”

If you take the truth of our last message on the terror of the Lord by itself you have an unbalanced motivation to serve God. But if you take this evening’s message all by itself you still have an unbalanced motivation to serve God. To serve Christ as He deserves to be served, to worship Him in spirit and truth, to properly honor and glorify Him with a consistent Christian life, there must be a proper and balanced understanding that appreciates both the terror of the Lord and the love of Christ.

Without that balance you’ll tend to either be a legalist who always raves about fearing God but who is not spiritual and whose life does not glorify God, or you’ll be a libertine who always raves about the love of God but who is not spiritual and whose life does not glorify God. Let us appreciate not only those attributes of God’s character that we like and feel comfortable with, but those aspects of His nature which our flesh balks at as well. If we do that, we’ll be a great deal more like Paul, and in so doing we’ll be a great deal more like Christ.



[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 469.


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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org