“For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, HCSB).
There are two ways to live a holy life, two versions of sanctification. These verses describe the right way sanctification should be manifested or lived out in our lives.
There’s a version of sanctification that comes from trying to live right for Christ and a version of sanctification that comes from righteous living in Christ. In the first version, we try to find favor with God by being good. In the other version, we are good because we have received God’s favor, His mercy, His love!
Yet, there is an important distinction between these two versions of sanctification, a distinction that is so subtle that if we’re not careful we can fall into legalism and self-righteousness, all the while thinking we are being good people, good Christians. And, we can even become entangled in the very sin we are trying so hard not to commit.
The distinction between these two versions of sanctification lies in our motivation for attempting to be good, for trying to live a holy life. The distinction is in the compelling reason for our goodness and holiness
This distinction could best be explained by the word “gratitude.” Is our sanctification one that manifests itself through a legalistic adherence to God’s commands or is it a sanctification that manifests itself through obedience to God resulting from a grateful heart?
Paul says we are compelled to live for Christ. We are compelled to goodness because of Christ’s love for us and our response to His love.
Jesus died for us, so we die to ourselves to live righteously for Him.
It’s just that simple!
When our righteousness is one that tries to get our self under control, then we are living out our sanctification the wrong way and for the wrong reason and it usually results in legalism and/or self-righteousness.
We can’t control self. That’s why the Apostle Paul reached the conclusion that “all died” when Jesus “died for all.” Self is out of control, out of our control, so self must die by the power of the love of Christ dwelling in us.
When we have received God’s grace, then we want to live in obedience to Him. When we live for Christ, we die to self. And then his love compels us to live righteously for Him.
Not only does God extend His favor and His love to us, He actually enables our sanctification by empowering us for righteous living by the blood of Christ, the Word of God (the Bible), and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
So why wouldn’t we want to obey God, serve God, live for Him? Christ’s love compels us!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)