I highlighted this phrase years ago in Robertson McQuiklin’s excellent book An Introduction to Biblical Ethics:
The writers of the New Testament consistently appeal to the work of Calvary – to an accomplished redemption – as a ground and a motive of holy living.
I wish I had taken better notice of this sentence at the time. It seems obvious on one level, but what’s obvious is often what is most easily missed.
When Paul said, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2), he wasn’t saying he only talked about the cross. He was saying that he couldn’t talk about anything without eventually tying it back to Jesus, and ultimately to his death and resurrection.
Daily living? “Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)
Sex? “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (2 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Money? “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Marriage? “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)
Our obligations to others? “Do not by your eating destroy your brother or sister for whom Christ died.” (Romans 14:15)
McQuilkin says, “Paul never tires of relating the obligations of morality to the fact that Christ died for us.”
So obvious, yet so easily missed. And so incredibly life-changing as well.