Are you aware of the love of God? Do you know that God loves you? I am afraid that one of the problems we face is that we sometimes lose our awareness of God’s love for us. We go through difficult times and question where the love of God is. “If God loves me, I want to see it!” “Show it to me!” Paul is working in this section of Romans to help his audience understand the hope and love we have because of what Jesus has done for us. Let’s dive right into the text and see the beautiful message of the good news about what Jesus did.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (5:6; ESV)
So here is what happened. While we were weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. What does Paul mean by saying that we were weak? The NKJV has a very literal rendering, “without strength” and that is the meaning of that Greek word. The apostle Paul is not talking about our physical strength. Rather, we have a moral problem before God. We have a moral weakness. The end of verse 6 tells us that this problem is we are ungodly. Our weakness is that there is nothing we can do to correct that problem. We are ungodly and we cannot change that condition. We are helpless in this condition. We know what that helpless, weak feeling is like. You are going down the road, not paying attention to your speed because you are thinking about other things, and suddenly you passes a police car running radar. You look down and you see that you have broken the speed limit. You may not have intended to, but you did. At that moment you have a feeling of helplessness. Yes, you can slow down now, but it is too late. You can drive the speed limit the rest of the way home, but that does not change the fact that there are blue lights flashing in your rear view mirror. You are helpless. You cannot fix what you have done. You cannot correct your mistake. You have done what you have done and now the consequences are due to you. You have broken the law. Or, in terms of breaking God’s law, you are ungodly. We are unable to save ourselves. We are unable to change our condition. We are helpless as lawbreakers.
But rather than us paying the price for our own mistakes, at the right time Jesus pays the price for our mistakes. At just the right moment, at the perfectly appointed time, Jesus pays the price by dying for us. I would like for you to highlight and observe two descriptions about ourselves in verse 6. We are weak, helpless, and without strength (depending on your translation) and we are the ungodly. We are not good. We are not righteous. We are not deserving. We are not worthy. We are not someone worth dying for in this condition. We are helpless and ungodly. We have been caught redhanded in our mistakes leading to our condemnation. Read verse 7 to amplify this thought further.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— (5:7; ESV)
The point here is very simple and very clear. People do not die even for worthy people. Paul is not talking about the number of occasions where someone has died for another. Rather, Paul is asking us to think about the difficulty of finding a person to die on behalf of another. Even for people that we know and like, our first inclination is not to die for that person. We may try to save that person from harm, but do not intentionally die to keep another person alive. Even for people that we think are good people, we do not raise our hand and say, “Shoot me, not them.” How many people do this? The point is very few.
But Paul wants us to see that this is not a fair comparison because Jesus did not die for the righteous. Jesus did not die for good people. Go read verse 6 again. Who did Jesus die for? Jesus died for the guilty, the ungodly. This is the point of verse 8.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (5:8; ESV)
Jesus died for us (underline this) WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS. Jesus did much more than what most people are willing to do! The comparison is not: we won’t die for the righteous and good, but Jesus did die. That is not it at all! It is not a comparison but a contrast. We won’t die for the good and righteous. Jesus died for the ungodly sinners, not the good and righteous. Consider the following illustration to see this point.
How many people have done prison time on behalf of another person? “Don’t worry, I will go to jail for you, even though I am innocent and you are guilty.” How many people do that? How many people have decided to be executed by the state of Florida for a capital crime on behalf of another person? How many people have you seen get the death sentence have someone run up to that guilty person and say, “Don’t worry, I will be killed for you. Even though I am innocent, I will die on your behalf.” This is the point Paul is making. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN! THIS NEVER HAPPENS! Paul is making an illustration from the lesser to the greater. We would hardly die for a good person. Jesus died for the ungodly, not the good.
Why did this happen? Why did Jesus die for the ungodly sinners that we are? Why did he die for us who are completely guilty? Verse 8 tells us that God is showing, proving, and demonstrating his love for us. If we saw an innocent person take the execution on behalf of a guilty person, what would we think? Perhaps after getting past how crazy such a thought it, we would recognize that this is great love. The one who dies for you must really love you. There is nothing else to think, to feel, or to know. Love is proven. Love is shown. Love is demonstrated. We have seen the highest example of love that can ever be shown. How can a person show another any greater love than dying on your behalf? Saying I love you is not greater. Flowers are not a greater display. Presents do not reveal greater love. Death is the greatest picture of love. While we were sinners, Jesus died for us.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (5:9; ESV)
Jesus’ death means that we are justified. Justified means that rather than being declared guilty as we ought, we are declared not guilty. We are acquitted. We are set free. Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we do not have to bear the punishment for what we have done.
But Paul is saying more than just a statement of fact about what Jesus did. Notice that there is a point from the lesser to the greater. See the “much more” phrase in the middle of the sentence. Jesus died. Much more then will we be saved from God’s wrath. This is the point: Jesus has already done the unthinkable (dying for the ungodly sinners). Then how much more can we know that God will do the obvious (saved us from God’s wrath)! To say this another way, God has already done the difficult thing (sending Jesus to die for ungodly wretches like us). How much more will God do the easier thing (save us from God’s wrath)? God has already done the most difficult thing in Jesus dying for us. God will certainly do the easier thing for us now. N.T. Wright uses an excellent illustration. If someone has driven to the other end of the country, through rain and snow, to see a friend in need, they are not going to abandon their quest when they arrive at the house, the skies clear, the sun comes out, and all they have to do is walk up the garden path and ring the doorbell. Of course God will finish the work! Verse 10 amplifies this thought further.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (5:10; ESV)
Now, let us remember what we were before God. In verse 6 we were told that we are weak and we are ungodly. In verse 7 we saw that we are not righteous and are not good. In verse 8 we noticed that we are sinners. In verse 10 Paul tells us that we are enemies of God. This is a very strong word and a very big problem that must be solved. We are enemies of God. We are hostile to God, separated from God, violators of God’s will, and breakers of God’s covenant.
But now God has reconciled us! Now we are no longer enemies because of the death of his Son. Now we are not enemies of God. Now we are friends with God. Now each one of us can have a relationship with God. The death of Jesus reconciles us to God. We are no longer separated from God. We no longer must be distant from God. We no longer have God’s wrath focused on us. We have been reconciled through the death of Jesus.
However, this is not even the point that Paul is making. But we needed to see it to appreciate the comparison Paul is making. Notice that we have another “much more” just as we observed in verse 9. This “much more” functions in the same way to give us confidence, hope, and the realization of God’s love. What God did in the past propels us and boosts us toward what will happen in the future. If God will reconcile us to him through the death of Jesus while we were enemies, then how much more will God most certainly save us in his life! Look at what God did while we were enemies! How much more will God do for us now that we are no longer enemies but are friends with God! Now that we are reconciled to God he will certainly save us. No one who has been justified should have any fear of condemnation. No one who has fully given their life to Jesus in faith needs to worry about the wrath of God.
We think, “But what about all of my sins?” We start thinking about the bad things that we have done and all the mistakes we have made. But God knows you made those mistakes. Go back through the text with me again. Jesus died for who? Jesus did not die for the good and righteous. Good thing he didn’t because that is not any of us. We are not good or righteous. Jesus died for the weak, the ungodly, the unrighteous, the sinners, and the enemies of God. What are you doing thinking about your sins? Jesus died for them! And if Jesus will to die for your sins, how much more will he make sure you are saved from the wrath of God! The blood of Jesus covers our mistakes and saves us from what we deserve.
More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (5:11; ESV)
Notice that we have one more “much more” given to us. More than all of this that we have learned so far, we can also rejoice in God because we have this reconciliation. Now we can celebrate what we have. Now we can celebrate the grace in which we stand. What was impossible through the Law of Moses is possible through Jesus. Our boast, our joy, and our rejoicing is in God. We are not celebrating ourselves. We are celebrating God and what he has done through Jesus.
Don’t feel bad but celebrate. In fact, rejoicing is a mark of the Christian life. How can we not praise God when we grasp what God has done for us? We want to worship because God reconciled us when we were enemies! We want to celebrate in God when we see that God acted in our ungodly state. We rejoice in God when we can picture the love God has shown toward us. Since Jesus died for us, he will surely also forgive us. Since Jesus died for us, he will surely also bless us. Since Jesus died for us, he will surely also save us from God’s wrath. Since Jesus died for us, he will surely also have a relationship with us. Since Jesus died for us, he will surely also love us.
Now, go to Romans 5:5 and see Paul’s meaning in this verse. “…and our hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” I pray that God’s love has been poured into your heart today as you hear these words penned by Paul given through the Holy Spirit. These words are to fill us with God’s hope, God’s love, and God’s joy.