They Who Live

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

– 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Paul writes in this passage that those who are controlled by the love of Christ are that way because they have “concluded this”. Now we are taking the time to consider just what “this” is in all its implications, that we might conclude the same things, and be controlled by the love of Christ as well.

We have given some thought to the realities that Christ died for us, and that we have joined him in his death. The next reality we must consider is the fact that we, having been joined to Christ, have been joined not only to His death but also to His resurrection. This is implied by the term “they who live”, and is echoed throughout the New Testament, most notably in Romans 6:1-13.

Death matters because of the separation it causes, and life matters because of the connection it accomplishes. So to say that you are alive to God and dead to sin means that at the most fundamental level, you are now connected to God and separated from sin, whereas the opposite used to be true of you.

So what are the implications of your new life in Christ? There are many, and one of the most glorious is the fact that you win. God the Father raised Christ from the dead as a sign of Christ’s victory over sin. And the fact that we share in His resurrection means that we get to share in His victory. This is true both in terms of our position before God and in terms of our day-to-day life. Sin has been conquered for us, so now we can conquer sin. The victory Christ accomplished means that we can now both live before God and live for God.

This new life not only connects us to God, but it also empowers us to live for Him. This must have been part of what Paul was thinking about when he wrote that it was his ambition to know Christ “and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10).

You have been given a fresh start, and that freshness never goes away. You will always have new life in Christ. Even when the feelings of newness go away, even when you have fallen back into the old failures of your previous life (or better said, your previous death), you are always just as newly-alive in Christ as you were when you first trusted Him.

These realities are not merely things that have been proclaimed about us in some judicial sense. In some mysterious way they have actually happened to us. They have really changed us on the inside. And as a result, they should change us on the outside. Living a new life is a natural extension of having a new life. That is what Paul mentions next, and that is what we will plan to explore in a later post.

Therefore all died

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

– 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

We have been working through this passage together over the past few posts, motivated by the principle that if we are able to come to the same conclusions that Paul had come to, we will be controlled by the love of Christ like he was. We are doing this slowly, one concept at a time, because it takes time to process these things in such a way that they actually affect they way we think.

Therefore all died. Assuming you are a believer in Christ, this means that you died. You may not feel like any such thing has happened to you, but it has. Scripture is, in fact, full of references to the death of believers who, by all external accounts, are very much alive. Colossians 3:3 describes this by saying that “you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Romans 6:1-11 describes this reality in detail, and concludes with this charge: “consider yourselves to be dead to sin.” We are told to believe a reality that we cannot see, and that we often don’t seem to experience, but is a reality nonetheless.

In Paul’s description of this principle in Romans 6, he makes it clear that the reason for our death is the fact that we have been joined to Christ. And having been joined to Christ, everything that belongs to Him now belongs to us, including His death for our sin. The fact that you have been joined to the death of Christ means that His death serves both to forgive you for your sin and to free you from it.

And this wasn’t just a judicial or symbolic transaction. You are not just dead to sin positionally. Your participation in the death of Christ has brought about such a change in your essential nature that it forms the basis for Paul’s emphatic question, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2) The question is whether we are going to view ourselves according to the flesh, or according to the word of God (2 Cor. 5:16-17).

If we are dead to sin because of the death that Christ died for sin on our behalf, how should this affect our view of sin? How should it affect our approach to dealing with sin? Does it leave any room for complacency, or for toying with temptation? If we understand it properly, it leaves room for nothing but the love of Christ to control us.

The even greater news is that because of our union with Christ, we participate not only in His death but in His resurrection. We are joined to His life. That is the reality we will plan to explore next month.