Slaves of Righteousness

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV

“For the love of Christ controls 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.”

I was curious about this word translated here as “controls.” So, I looked it up. I am so thankful to God for Bible study helps (1), especially when it comes to looking up meanings of words that are in the Bible. And that is because our English words don’t always capture the intended meaning of the word. The word means that it constrains or presses us on or it urges or impels us toward a particular response or action or behavior. So, Christ’s love for us is an irresistible power that moves us to follow him in obedience.

Well, this is the way it should be. If we truly grasp and accept into our lives what Jesus Christ did for us on that cross, and we are thus crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him (not like our old lives), his love for us should be the motivating factor for us to surrender our lives to Christ, to leave our lives of sin behind us, and to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). This should be the desire of our hearts, not something we avoid or dread.

But this is not what is largely being taught today in market-driven institutional churches here in America. They are teaching God’s love and grace as free license to now continue living in sin without conscience or remorse. They see the love of Christ as him dying for our sins just so we can be forgiven of our sins, escape hell, and go to heaven when we die. And many of them are teaching that nothing is required of us other than to “believe” (not defined) in Jesus just one time in our lives.

But that is man’s teachings, not God’s. For the Scriptures teach us that Jesus Christ died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake (our sake) died and was raised from the dead. He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. And He shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now be God’s possession, and so that we might now honor God with our lives (with our bodies).

[2 Corinthians 5:15; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Titus 2:11-14]

For when Jesus gave his life up for us on that cross it was to put our sin to death with him so that we might now be delivered from our slavery (addiction) to sin and so that we might now walk (in conduct, in practice) in his holiness and righteousness in obedience to his commands. For “we know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6). So we are to no longer let sin reign in our mortal bodies to make us obey its passions (Rom 6:12), for if we do it ends in death (Rom 6:16).

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 ESV

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

Some people are teaching this as a status that we put on when we believe in Jesus. But it isn’t just a status. It is a lifestyle. Believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives involves us literally dying with Christ to our old lives of living in sin and for self so that we can be reborn of the Spirit of God and now walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our new lives in Christ are not to look like our old lives of sin and living for self. And all of this comes from God.

But when we say this comes from God, such as our faith is gifted to us by God, this does not translate to we do nothing. Yes, we cannot earn or deserve our own salvation via our own works done in our flesh. But our salvation is not absent of works. It is just that the works are now those of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk (in conduct, in practice) in them. For we are God’s workmanship create in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared for us to walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

And then let us look at what this word reconciliation means. It means “I change.” It means that I change to God’s position in agreement with him and his plan and purpose for my life. It means I change from enmity with God to friendship, fellowship, and partnership with God. My old life of living in sin and for self was exchanged for the new life in Christ that God has provided in order that I might no longer live for myself but for him who gave his life up for me. I no longer live like I did before I believed in Jesus.

Now this does not mean we instantaneously become sinless and perfect (see 1 John 2:1-2). But the goal of our lives now should be to not sin. Sin should no longer be our practice, our habit. For Christ’s love compels us to want to obey our Lord, and his love empowers us to live godly and holy lives no longer enslaved to sin. Our new lives in Christ should not look like or be like our old lives which we lived in the flesh. For God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return (Titus 2:11-14).

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Above All

By Paul Baloche / Lenny Leblanc

Above all powers above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There’s no way to measure what You’re worth

Crucified laid behind the stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a Rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
Above all

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(1) Bible Study Helps – and (use the interlinear for defining words – click on the numbers above the words)

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