God bless you in the name of Jesus Christ, through whom the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5).
God has shed His love abroad in our hearts through the gift of holy spirit. This spiritual enablement is what makes it available for us to love Him like He loves us. This kind of love finds its fulfillment in performing what the object of that love desires. This agapaō is to motivate us to greater and greater service for our Lord. This love can change us from the inside out. Our love for the master impels us to serve…. It constrains us.
II Corinthians 5:14-18:
For the love of Christ constraineth us; [It repeatedly encourages us to act.] 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 [after the flesh]. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.
The love of Christ constraineth us. In the Eastern culture of Bible lands, “constraining” involves an in-depth request. In the East, if you invite me to dinner I will refuse to come even though I am really hungry and haven’t eaten all day long. If you invite me, I offer reasons that I cannot come. It isn’t lying, it is an oriental custom. I must give at least two reasons why I can’t come before I can accept. In America the minute somebody starts talking about dinner we say, “Yeah, I am ready, let’s go.” But in the Biblical culture the proper thing to do was to refuse until the third request. So, I say, “Oh, I am so sorry, I can’t come for dinner this evening because I have business to handle.” But then you say to me, “We really want so very much for you to eat with us.” I reply again, “I am really sorry. I would love to come, but I must be on my way?” Then you implore me the third time and you say, “Well, you must come, my wife has prepared apple pie.” Then finally after the third time, I say to you, “Well, if this really is how you feel I’ll come?”
When I taught this in Florida, a lady from India who was raised in the Eastern culture shared that there is really nothing special about the number three. Constraining doesn’t stop with three requests. It continues until one acquiesces. She remembered her parents going far beyond three requests plenty of times.
Here is this great truth in Corinthians which hardly anyone sees. “For the love of Christ constraineth us. . . .” Christ’s love constrains us; he pleads with us two, three, four, or five times, his love constrains us to live for him. Verse fourteen also tells us why it constrains us. II Corinthians 5:14 continues, “. , ,because we thus judge. . . .”
The word “judge” used here literally means “to pronounce the distinction and the final judgment.” It’s a judicial term for rendering a verdict. All the evidence has been presented, and it’s time for a decision. Our decision, our verdict is he died for us. The love of Christ constrains us because we have pronounced the final distinction and the final judgment and that is. . . that one died for all.
The word “if” in this verse (“that if one died”) must be struck out. There is no critical Greek text except the Stephens text which contains the word “if.” There is no “if” about it. The beginning of the verse says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” Because we love Christ, we are constrained. Jesus Christ’s love constrains us to live for him who died for us, because we have judged that he died for us.
No greater love is there than that a man lay down his life for his friends. That’s what Jesus did for us and that’s what he requires us to do for others. . . to love. . . to so love that we give of ourselves. God so loved that He gave; Jesus so loved that he gave; we are to so love that we give.
It says this love constrains us, it doesn’t control us. We have freedom of will. We don’t always respond on the first request, but the love of God in our hearts will keep bringing us back to the Word unless we harden our hearts to God’s Word. The love of God will always bring us back. But remember that it doesn’t control; it constrains. Our continued refusal to act can produce hardness of heart, but the spoken Word can penetrate even the hardest heart and let the love of God return us to His Word again.
The words “then were all dead” literally are translated “therefore all died [in him].” Incidentally, that is the translation which appears in the American Standard Version. Therefore, all born-again believers of the Church of the Body died in him. When Jesus Christ died, all of us died with him. When Jesus Christ rose again from the dead, we were raised with him. When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father we ascended and were seated with him; and when Christ returns to reign upon the earth, all believers will reign with him. It is an accomplished reality for each and every believer. Because God so loved us, Christ laid down his life. He was the propitiation, the payment. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the law. You can get saved with very little knowledge of God’s Word, but if you really want to live for God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you will have to come to the deeper truths and principles of the Word. Commitment is required. Love is required.