Friday, July 2, 2010

The Love of Christ Controls Us

“The love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

We tend to think of the love of Christ when we are first transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Generally we think of God’s love strictly in that moment when salvation was revealed to us. True, the gospel is the greatest display of love ever, but the gospel is more than a onetime event. Paul knew this reality which is why, as a minister of the gospel; he made it clear that “the love of Christ controls us.”

The gospel is the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a sinner. God calls us to be his children regenerating us by the work of his Spirit in our lives. The transformation that occurs in the life of a sinner to a saint is the work only God can do. We cannot be changed by the supernatural and then revert back to the natural. Salvation is not an “experience” of God’s grace and then once the experience is over we continue as we once were. NO! That is nothing more than an experience. The true experience of God’s grace is supernatural and continues to be supernatural throughout the rest of a lifetime. The transformed soul changed by God’s grace says, “I’m denying myself, taking up my cross and following Christ daily so that my reward in heaven might be great.” That is totally different from the natural. This is what it means to live a life in which “the love of Christ controls us.”

Saving grace continues to be saving grace until the day we are finally with the Lord for eternity. God’s love is displayed ultimately to his children by his saving grace through faith. That faith is imparted to us so that we may live lives in accordance with God’s word. Our whole worldview is changed through God’s salvation and continues to be changed throughout our lives as we pursue holiness through the Scriptures. The gospel continues to compel or control us all through our earthly life. This is what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (5:14-15). We no longer live for self but for Christ who saved us by his death and raise us to newness of life through his resurrection. He is worthy of our praise, honor and glory. The love of Christ saves us and “the love of Christ controls us.”

In his book Transforming Grace, Jerry Bridges, writes: “Our good works are not truly good unless they are motivated by a love for God and a desire to glorify Him.” This is impossible for the natural man. The natural man is controlled by Satan and sin. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7). Sin has complete dominion over him because only the gospel has the power over sin.

Christian, be grateful for what Christ has done on your behalf. He saved you through his atoning work on the cross and he raised you to newness of life through his resurrection. If your sanctification seems like a slow process know that God’s timing his perfect and his power is supernatural. Remind yourself of the power of the gospel often so that your confidence for growth will not rest in your own works but in Christ’s continued work in your life. The cross is the power of God to those who are “being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Justification and sanctification are both the power of God’s work in our lives. We respond in obedience because “the love of Christ controls us.”

Grace upon grace,

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