“The love of Christ compels us”
2 Corinthians 5:14

What does it mean to be compelled by the love of Christ?

A Christian serves God with heart and soul, moved by the love of Christ.

In this context, the word translated ‘compels’ [συνέχω] means to powerfully urge along a line of conduct. Force is not involved, but some impulse is so great that it evokes a strong intellectual and emotional inclination to respond appropriately. In this case, the impulse is the love of Christ, which is so immense that it demands a response as complete and radical as His love for us.

Paul is explaining the compelling force in his own life. His aim is to please God and to persuade others (verses 9-11). The motivating force is the love of Christ: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).

What if someone gave his life to save your life? Would you be thankful? Without his help, you would be dead.

What if He saved your life so you could live for ever? Jesus saved our life. In gratitude, we live for Him. We are compelled by the love of Christ.

How can we know the love of Christ?

We must know about the love of Christ before it can be a compelling force in our lives.

Paul prayed that his fellow Christians might truly know the love of Christ: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).

As small children, many of us sang, “Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so.” This song was written by Anna Warner in 1860 for a novel by her sister, Susan Warner. In the book, a Sunday school teacher sings ‘Jesus loves me’ to a dying child. The melody and refrain were added by William Bradbury two years later.

Yes, we learn about the love of Christ through the Scriptures.

How do we know someone loves us? By what he gives us and does for us. What has Jesus given us and done for us?

Because He loves us, Jesus gave Himself for us.

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2); “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24); “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:10).

The vicarious, substitutional sacrifice of Christ was the driving force in the life of Paul. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Because He loves us, Jesus died for us.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10). “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16).

Because He loves us, Jesus gave us the word of God.

When praying for His followers, Jesus said, “I have given them Your word” (John 17:14). “For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me” (John 17:8). “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Because He loves us, Jesus gave us the right to become sons of God.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13).

To become a child of God, one “must be born again” (John 3:7), “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5).

This is not a physical birth. It cannot be achieved by man’s will in his own way.

It is a spiritual birth, accomplished only by the will of God in His way through His word. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18), “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

Because He loves us, Jesus gave us the word of God through which we can become children of God if we believe. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Notice that a believer is not automatically a child of God, but is given the right to become a child of God.

Many never perfect their faith by appropriate obedience. See James 2:22 where it says that Abraham’s faith was made perfect by works. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). “Faith only” is dead faith (James 2:14-26).

To become a child of God, a believer must obey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17) which includes publicly confessing Christ (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10), repentance (Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19) and baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) to be saved (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).

Because He loves us, Jesus gave us the right to become sons of God by being born again, “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

Because He loves us, Jesus intercedes for us.

“We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1, 2).

“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:33, 34 ESV).

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 ESV).

What love can be greater than this? Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and now He intercedes with the Father on our behalf!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37 ESV).

Christians experience the hardships of life like everyone else. In addition, they are opposed and persecuted by the enemies of God in heaven and on earth.

Yet, we are never separated from the love of Christ: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39 ESV).

Because He loves us, Jesus wants us to be with Him.

“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:22-24).

The whole Bible helps us understand the love of Christ.

These passages about the love of Christ show only the tip of the iceberg. Read the Gospels, and study the New Testament to learn more about His love.

How are we affected by the love of Christ?

We no longer live for ourselves, but we live for Him who died for us. We walk in love, live for righteousness, and are zealous for good works. We accept the words of God. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Nothing can separate us from His love, and we will be with Him for ever.

Is the love of Christ the mainspring of our life?

May our motives and priorities enable us to say with Paul: “The love of Christ compels us!” Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive