Series: 2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Would you like to hear some special inside information? I’m talking about some news that will change your life and through you the lives of many others. Are you ready? Here it is. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died to sin once for all, was raised from the dead, and is alive forever! And those who trust in him have also died and are now raised in him! Isn’t that amazing? “Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes! He arose the victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign! Hallelujah, Christ arose!” The difference between a dead and formal religion and a vibrant Christian faith is found in our laying hold of the truth of the gospel and living according to it.
For Paul, Christ was the substance of his life. He writes to keep the Corinthians on that path, because some false teachers are causing them problems, and they are only too willing to listen to them.
So the apostle presents true, living Christianity to them to reengage their very selves to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul has said that he was devoted to the service of God and the Corinthians (5:11-13). Now he explains why a life of pleasing self was no longer possible. Let us listen like we are hearing this for the first time.
Exposition: How does the gospel or good news change our lives?
1. The source is Christ’s love for his people.
a. This is a basic truth about our salvation. Christ gave himself for us because he loved us (Gal 2:20; Eph 5:25). Christians everywhere celebrate this truth!
b. His love also does something in us. It compels or constrains or urges us on to love others; that is, we respond by setting our emotions on the good of others, so that we give ourselves sacrificially for their benefit. It is his love in us that induces love for others, which in turn gives proof that we are his people (Jn 13:34-35).
2. Because of his love, Christ died as a substitute for his people.
Though the Greek preposition used here does not demand the idea of substitution by itself, when used in a context like this, it means substitution (cf. Phm 13). Christ was our substitute; he took our place, satisfied God’s wrath, and so took away the guilt and punishment for our sins.
a. Some passages refer to those saved by Christ’s death as the “world”, meaning both Jews and Gentiles. Others refer to this same group as “many” (Mt 20:28; 26:28; 10:45; 14:24; Rm 5:19). Here the apostle refers to the people saved by his death as “all”, setting forth the group as a whole. So we can say, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3). The Good Shepherd gave his life for his sheep (Jn 10:11, 15). Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25-27).
b. But Paul’s point is to set forth the unity of Christ’s death and his resurrection for his people, as he does in Romans six. He died for all his people, and therefore all his people died. (We’ll explain what that means in a few moments.) And he died for all his people, in order that those living (meaning believers who have new, resurrection life; that is, the same people) should live for him. In other words, you cannot simply say that “Jesus died for my sins and so I can do whatever I wish.” You cannot say that, because if you died with him, you also rose with him, in order that you might live for him. Part of the roots of “easy believism” that has plagued the western church for generations is found in the separation of Christ’s death from his resurrection as they are applied to the believer. So some have liked to say, “Jesus died for me and my sins are gone,” but they have not enjoyed saying, or perhaps ever said, “Jesus rose for me, so I can live for him.”
3. When Christ died for his people, we died with him.
a. What kind of a death was this? We died to all that used to control us: sin, Satan, the law, and the flesh. This means that these things no longer rule over the Christian. In Christ we died to everything in that old realm, to all that we were in Adam.
b. This is something that we must act on by faith. When we believed in the Lord Jesus, we were really united to him as the crucified one. So then, when tempted to sin, whether by the spiritual forces of evil, by other people, or by our own remaining sin, we can say in faith, “I am in Jesus Christ the Crucified. This sin cannot control me. These temptations are only illusions, however powerful they might seem; but my reality is in Christ.” Or when we seek fellowship or to enjoy friendship with God, we can say in faith, “I do not have to concern myself with rituals or experiences derived from physical elements, like candles, incense, and so on. I am in Christ who died to bring me to God (1 Pt 3:18), so I can draw near to him in the Spirit.”
4. The purpose of this death was to produce resurrection life.
a. Notice how the apostle says, “No longer.” These words point to the reality that our lives after faith in Jesus are radically different than they were before. Something has happened inside the believer in Jesus Christ. It is not something we do just to look religious to other religious people. This “no longer” comes from the resurrection of Jesus. The vital principle of resurrection life (cf. Eph 1:18-20) starts to work in us. There is no longer pleasure in living for self; instead, resurrection life starts to consume those things. “I don’t feel like doing ______ any longer. I’d rather be doing something for Christ, for his people, or for people who still need to know him.” The desire to express Christ’s love starts to overwhelm other desires.
b. The resurrection of Christ transforms us. We live among a self-loving, self-seeking, self-fulfilling, self-indulging, and self-obsessed people. But Christ’s resurrection sets us on a new course. We are different. We are renewed and reset to live for him. Our internal compass no longer points to self but to the Lord Jesus Christ. As someone has said, our freedom in Christ “means transfer from one dominion to another: from law to grace (Rm 6:14), from sin to righteousness (Rm 6:18), from death to life (Rm 6:21-23), from flesh to Spirit (Rm 8:4ff); or, as he puts it here, from self to Christ” (Furnish, quoted by Harris).
1. The reality of being loved by Christ has changed the way we look at life and people: “because we are convinced”. The truth of what we are in Christ has produced a new way of thinking, a new persuasion. Do you have this persuasion?
2. Every believer should obviously be living for Christ, which involves living for the benefit of others. Take a piece of paper; draw a line down the middle. On the left hand side, write “Self”, and on the right, write “Christ and others”. Now list the things you do, putting them on either side. Certainly, there are some items that we must all do to survive, but the list on the right should be much longer than the list on the left. If it is not, then you need to reconsider Christ and gospel and let him transform your way of life. By the Spirit, you will have to eliminate a number of items on the left and replace them with Christ-focused actions on the right. But this will not happen unless Christ’s resurrection is a dominant theme in your life.
3. Consciously and deliberately tune yourself into the gospel—Christ’s death and resurrection; in other words, meditate on the gospel. Preach it to yourself everyday this week. Consider your way of live according to the gospel. How much of you is flowing out from Christ who died and rose again?
Illustration: The story is told of how Augustine, after his conversion to Christ, returned to his home town. A former girlfriend called to him, “Augustine, Augustine, it is I.” He turned to her and said, “Yes, but it is not I.” All of us must live as people who died with Christ and who were raised with Christ to live for Christ (Gal 2:20). We need to say, “It is not I, but Christ living in me.”[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/frampton-dave.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Dave Frampton: When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.newtownsquarebaptist.org/” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/button]