2 Corinthians 5:15
And that he died for all, that they which live should not from now on live to themselves, but to him which died for them…
In passing over a mountainous country the traveller comes at length to the water-shed. Up till he reached that elevation the brook has been meeting him; but so soon as he has crossed it a new-born rivulet runs dancing along with him. The external features of this ridge may be different in different cases. In one they may be clearly defined; in another they may be so little marked that it may be difficult to say where precisely the transition has been made, and the tourist can only tell that he has made it when he sees the new direction which the water is taking. But however it may be outwardly indicated, the fact remains that at such a ridge a few yards will determine whether the water falling from the clouds will find its destination in one ocean or another. Now the moment of conversion is the water-shed of life. Sometimes the transition is distinctly defined; sometimes it is hardly discernible; yet always it is the turning-point of a man's eternity. This is the point which is indicated by the "henceforth" of my text. Mark —
I. WHAT PRECEDES IT. There are three descriptions of the life before conversion given by Paul.
1. In the verse before us. To live unto ourselves is to make self the ruler, and selfishness the motive of our existence. Everybody hisses at the miser, but many actions which are accounted noble are just as selfish as his.
2. In Ephesians 4:7. Walking "as other Gentiles walk" exactly delineates the kind of life which multitudes are leading. They do as other people do; and if a thing is customary, that is held by them to be a sufficient reason for their practising it. They never ask what is the will of God in the matter. Is a man asked to contribute to some good object, then instead of inquiring whether in God's sight he ought to give, and if so, how much, he will say, "Let me see who are subscribing, and what amounts." Is he besought to help some struggling cause, then his inquiry will be, not what Christ would have him do, but whether any persons of respectability are connected with it. Is he in doubt as to the propriety of some course of conduct, his scruples are removed when you tell him that this one and that one of the fashionables do the same.
3. In Romans 6:6. Up to the "henceforth" they had been serving sin; and, indeed, this is said in so many words in the 17th verse. This is the most terrible description of the three — "Ye were the slaves of sin," and the meaning is that in the unconverted sin has the entire mastery. By habitual indulgence in it they have given it the upper hand, and now it holds them in chains which they themselves have formed.
II. WHAT FOLLOWS IT. We have no such variety as in the former case, for though error is manifold, truth is one. There are different ways to perdition, but there is only one to glory. There may be diversity of phase, but the same root principle exists in every true believer. "To me to live is Christ"; "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." These profound utterances imply that what before was self in the apostle was now Christ. "What things before were gain to him, those he counted loss for Christ." Now it is the same with every real Christian. When a man truly passes this "henceforth," his whole being runs Christward. The volume of the river may be small at first; but, small as it is, its direction is decided, and it gathers magnitude as it flows. He has Christ enthroned in his heart as the Lord of his love; over his intellect as his instructor in knowledge; over his will as the guide of his choice; over his life as the director of his conduct; yea, he can say with truth that he is Christ's, as well as that Christ is his.
III. WHAT PRODUCES IT. The influence .on a man's heart of the love of Christ as that is manifested in His atoning death for him. Look at the history of Paul's own conversion, and you will see that the change in him was brought about through his belief that Jesus died for his sins and rose again for his justification. Now it is the same with the convert yet. It is his faith that Jesus Christ the Son of God loved him and gave Himself for him, which through the agency of the Holy Ghost brings about this transformation. Christ is only a Saviour, or at most the Saviour, till I appropriate Him, but when I do that He is my Saviour; and that moment is the "henceforth" of my life. Conclusion: But some one may ask, Why should I seek to pass this "henceforth"? What is there about conversion that makes it of such importance?
1. It is essential to your reconciliation with God, and your enjoyment of the blessedness of heaven.
2. It will intensify your happiness.
3. It will increase your usefulness.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.