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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Love of Christ Constrains U

The Love of Christ Constrains Us … Ultimate Freedom Awaits Us

 

For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 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. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

 

The word ‘compels’ in 2 Corinthians 5:14, is sunechei. Some translations have ‘constrains’, and others ‘controls’. It means, “the pressure which confines and restricts as well as controls.” (C. K. Barrett and Alfred Plummer)

 

As Christians, there is always the choice to make – to obey or disobey – yet Christ’s love for us pushes the choice in favour of obeying. “I don’t really want to obey this teaching, but when I think about Christ’s love shown in his dying for me to free me from my sins, it changes my perspective. He died to save me and make me a better person. His commands are meant to prepare me for heaven. That touches my heart, and brings a heartfelt response.”

 

It’s the same with children and parents: it’s the parents’ love that makes the children want to obey. Why? Because love engenders the desire to please the one who is loving you. This is why faith and love go together. You trust and love because of their love towards you.

                 

Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15. There’s an obligation there. Yet it’s not guilt but freedom from guilt that makes us feel obligated! Our obligation to keep Jesus’ commands should be driven by Christ’s love and forgiveness. Christ’s love for us prompts our love for him. Our love for him causes us to want to trust and obey him. He’s on our side. He’s for us! Romans 8:31-39. Duty and obligation are important, but it’s love and gratitude for Christ’s forgiveness that should drive the sense of obligation. The constraining power of love. We love to obey from our hearts, not “do we have to obey?” This is why God can say that in the New Covenant He will put His laws on our hearts: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbour and each one his brother, saying,

‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward

their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:10-12

It’s because God forgives our sins that His laws are written on our hearts! Compare verses 10 and 12 above.

The New Covenant is a covenant driven by forgiveness.

 

this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28

 

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

 

We want to do His will because the blood Christ - shed to ratify the New Covenant of forgiveness – motivates us.

 

Under the Old Covenant, godly people, like David, loved God and His Law with their whole heart. Psalm 119:2-11,34,69. They knew that God would forgive those times they broke the Law! See Psalm 51; 32; Luke 18:9-14. God’s urging circumcision in heart would help with this. Jeremiah 4:4. God would forgive their confession of sin if they had faith in Him and because He had planned to send His Son to die as the sacrifice for the sins of all men. Isaiah 53; Romans 3:23-25; 5:12-21; Hebrews 9:15-22. All Jews were not like the legalistic Pharisees who didn’t understand their enslavement to sin through Law, John 8:30-36; 1 Corinthians 15:56, and who thought their salvation was based on their own righteous observance of Law. Matthew 5:20; Romans 9:30-10:5; Philippians 3:2-9. The Law would become a Law of sin and death (Romans 8:2-3) only because many who lived under it didn’t understand it could only make them righteous if they observed it perfectly all the time, Romans 5:10:1-5; Galatians 3:10-12; James 2:9-11, which of course no one but Jesus could ever do! Matthew 5:17-18; John 19:28-30.

 

Oh how grateful we should be for Jesus’ sinless perfection, and for God’s gracious plan that the righteousness of Christ could become our righteousness!! Romans 3:21-26; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Philippians 3:7-11.

 

It is this gratitude and love for our perfect Saviour – who did what he did for us – that should motivate us to live for Him in the freedom of the New Covenant. 2 Corinthians 3:1-18; Galatians 5:1-13. Jesus said:  Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. We serve in the freedom of Christ because Christ sets us free from the huge burden of trying to be a perfect Law-keeper, plus the extra burden of the guilt that is borne when we realize we have failed to be a perfect law-keeper/do-gooder! When Jesus pleads with us, “Come unto me you poor heavy laden people and I will give you rest,” this is what he’s talking about. Trying to get to heaven merely by self-effort never works. We need to trust and follow Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8.

 

Paul told the Philippians to work out their salvation because God was at work in them. Philippians 2:12-13. In our churches we work out our salvation by obeying Christ’s teachings because God has already worked His salvation in us through the death and resurrection of His Son. Philippians 2:5-11.

 

We can freely choose to be freed from sin and live above sin through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Yet we still live in a world full of evil, corruption and decay. One day, Jesus promises, we will also be freed from that!! Rev 21:1-7.

 

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:12-21

 

Where the Good Way is: Eternal Rest for the Soul

 

Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

 

Jesus calls us back to the ancient ways of God “where the good way is”, promising that “you shall find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:25-30. But, Jeremiah noted, many said: “We will not walk in it.” Yet the elect do! Ephes 1:1-14

 

Jesus graciously offers us eternal life as one who, though being God and thus knowing and having experienced His Father God in eternity, with all the privileges of deity, yet humbled Himself by becoming one of us and dying on a cross, then conquering death in resurrection glory!! Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2; John 1:1-4; 5:17-30; 6:38,46,51,57; 8:58; 10:27-38; 20:25-31; Romans 1:3-4; 8:11; 9:1-5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:9-23; 2:1-10; Titus 1:1-3; 2:11-14; Hebrews 1:1-12; 2:6-18; 7:23-28; 2 Peter 1:1-3. What a Saviour and God Jesus is, and a brother to believers! Hebrews 2:9-13. We fall to our knees in praise and worship. Matthew 28:16-17; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 1:7-8; 19:10; 22:8-9

 

--David Hunter

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