Jun P. Espina         8 min read
Written on July 7, 2022
The Love of Christ Controls the Apostle Paul
The apostle Paul is one Bible character who testified that he was controlled by the love of Christ. What was Paul’s purpose in pointing up this experience of closeness with our Lord? “For the love of Christ controls us,” he said. (2 Cor. 5:14) What special instance had led the apostle to write his experience that the love of Christ controls him?
- ◽ The Love of Christ Controls the Apostle Paul
- ◽ The Love of Christ Controls Us by Way of Giving Us Assurance of Salvation
- ◽ The Love of Christ is Meaningless to those Who Believe Their Church or Good Deeds Save Them
- ◽ The Deception of the What-Must-I-Do Belief System
- ◽ The Love of Christ Controls Paul Only After His Conversion
- ◽ The Love of Christ Controls Paul After He Recognizes Our Lord Differently
- ◽ We Need to Have a New Perspective Who Jesus Is
- ◽ How To Love God More?
- ◽ Does the Love of Christ Control You as Experienced by Paul?
- ◽ How Does Our Father God Love Us?
- ◽ Do You Want the Love of Christ to Control You as Experienced by Paul?
The Love of Christ Controls Paul Because of Our Lord’s Spirit in Him
This passage of Scripture in Chapter 5 of Second Corinthians is packed with heaps of Bible truth. In the opening verses of this section of the book, for example, Paul said that God will clothe us with spiritual or “heavenly bodies.” (2 Cor. 5:1-5) And to validate this Christian hope, “God . . . gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.” (v. 5) Is it not logical and coherent for Paul to write that the “love of Christ controls us” since the Spirit of God lives in our souls to help and comfort us? (See John 14:16-17)
The Love of Christ Controls Us by Way of Giving Us Assurance of Salvation
Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5 that we have the assurance of salvation. “[F]or we walk by faith,” said Paul, “not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:7-8) Death is not a problem, to paraphrase the verse, since after this life we will be at home with the Lord.
It is more rhetorical with King James Version: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Paul said, “We.” It means ETERNAL LIFE is guaranteed to all born-again Christians. We love to call this teaching the believers’ “blessed hope.”
Christ taught the same thing: “[A]nd I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28) The believers are promised deathless life in the house of God.
As the Bible speaks about the believers’ sureness of eternal salvation, so it was a reasonable ground for Paul to teach that “the love of Christ controls us.”
The Love of Christ is Meaningless to those Who Believe Their Church or Good Deeds Save Them
Since time began, our sense of guilt to God is hardwired into our subconscious. That is why our common doctrine—without any seminary training—is, “What must I DO to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) Luke also recorded the same what-must-I-do belief system: “And a certain ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I DO to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18)
The natural man’s idea of resolving his sin issues with God rests on the question: What moral, virtuous, charitable, and noble deeds must I DO for you, Lord? We believe we can please God, and thus promote our souls to heaven, by doing righteous deeds.
The same question was raised by Saul (who later became Paul) during his first meeting with the risen Jesus: “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’” (Acts 10:22)
It happened before Saul became Paul. Then, after he became a follower and an apostle of Christ he wrote that “the love of Christ controls us.” Paul changed his belief system from “what can I do” to “what Christ did for my soul.”
Indeed, the love of Christ is meaningless to those who trust their souls in their religion or good deeds—instead of trusting the blood of our Lord, and His finished work on the cross.
The Deception of the What-Must-I-Do Belief System
This false what-must-I-do belief system has misled humanity since the time of Cain and Abel. Both gave their offerings to God, but Cain offered the “fruit of the ground” as a “tiller of the ground” and was rejected by God because, unlike Abel’s, Cain didn’t offer the “firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.” (Gen. 4: 3-5) WHAT’S THE POINT? Well, “according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22)
Abel’s offering involves the blood as a type of the blood of Jesus that “cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) In Hebrews 11, the Scripture says that Abel’s FAITH (in the blood) enabled him to get God’s approval for his sacrifice. Observe Hebrews 11:4:
The Love of Christ Controls Paul Only After His Conversion
If you think of outdoing God, like loving Him more without understanding that THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONTROLS YOU first, then you begin to walk on thin ice doctrinally. The Bible said, “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, KJV) We can never outmatch God’s immeasurable love for us. In Luke 18, the young ruler bragged about obeying the entire Commandments.
“When Jesus heard this, He said to him, ‘One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’” (Luke 18:22) It was Christ’s way of saying, “love Me,” but the rich young ruler turned his back on our Lord while believing his salvation from hell could be gained by obeying the Law.
Note that before his conversion, Saul asked what should he do to please Christ. But when he got converted and became an apostle of our Lord, Paul changed his belief system by saying: the love of Christ controls us.
It is Christianity 101: “Lord, thank You, for dying for my sins (Lord, You love me).” After experiencing Christ’s love, your love and obedience to Him will just live in your heart and mind naturally—like being possessed by God’s Spirit as promised by our Savior.
The Love of Christ Controls Paul After He Recognizes Our Lord Differently
I can easily spot a preacher who is not ablaze with the Spirit of God. He is the one who does not recognize Christ differently. When he preaches, he prefers subjects other than the glorification of Christ. And after his sermon, he does not make an altar call since he does not have a logical reason to do so. Spurgeon said, preaching without inviting people to Christ is like fishing without drawing the net.
We cannot invite people to receive our Lord if we preach to them the whys of loving God—like convincing people to love God by using the adjectives about Him (for example He is kind, merciful, loving, gracious, and so forth) from the English dictionary—instead of the hows.
Wrote the apostle Paul: “Therefore . . . even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.” (2 Cor. 5:16) It is the HOW of loving God: By viewing and knowing Christ from the divine angle.
We Need to Have a New Perspective Who Jesus Is
If we love the Father because He is good and merciful, it makes little sense. The SDAs teach it; the Jews did it for thousands of years. Of our human nature, Paul said, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.” (Rom. 1:21)
That is why we need Christ for our salvation, but first, we need to have a new perspective who Jesus is. Again, it is the biblical secret on how to love God above all.
In the NLT version, Paul wrote: “At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:16-17)
Christ changes people’s hearts because He is God the Son—if we don’t look at him “from a human point of view!”
How To Love God More?
How to love our Father God more? Well, we need to understand and believe Christ’s compelling love for us first. “THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONTROLS US,” Paul said. We need the CROSS first before we can ever talk about our great love for the Father in heaven.
READ MORE: Christ is Our Advocate
Does the Love of Christ Control You as Experienced by Paul?
Does the love of Christ control you as experienced by Paul? If so, it is because your viewpoint about Christ has changed. He is equal with the Father, therefore, love Him and preach about Him as God and Savior, and give Him all the glory and honor.
Christ is God the Son, and we recognize Him as equal with God. Therefore, we no longer recognize Him “according to the flesh.” He is not a mere man like us anymore, according to Paul.
What will happen if we acknowledge the deity of Christ? Paul said: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
What do you mean by “new creature,” Saint Paul? Well, Christ has the answer: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” New creature means you are a temple of God. The Holy Trinity will “make Our [plural] abode with him.” “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)
How Does Our Father God Love Us?
How does our Father God love us? When we love Jesus. “If anyone loves Me . . . the Father will love him.” That is why the hows about loving God have to begin with loving Jesus, and loving our Lord has to begin with the Cross—for Christ died there to give us forgiveness and eternal life.
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
Let us change the question above: Will Christ love us despite our sinful hearts?
The answer is, “Yes,” if we trust and believe Him. Wrote Paul: “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (1 Tim. 1:15)
The sacred blood of Jesus on the cross heals the sinners, so to speak. In Luke 5:31, “Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.'” If you are sinless or self-righteous like the Pharisees, then the love of Christ cannot seize your heart, because our Lord will save only the sinners who trusted Him for the forgiveness of their sins.
Do You Want the Love of Christ to Control You as Experienced by Paul?
Do you want the love of Christ to control you? Good question. Let me answer you with a brief story.
A rich old man was dying, so he asked his Christian servant what to do. “Kneel, Sir, in your pigpen five minutes every morning,” said the servant.
“No, I cannot do that!” replied the old man, his middle-class pride going sky high.
Six months passed, and the old man sensed he was near death. So he informed his servant he was ready to kneel in the pigpen.
But the servant said: “No need, Sir, your humility and faith in Christ are the only passport to enter heaven and live there forever. Just receive our Lord Jesus sincerely as your Savior and Lord, according to the Word of God.”