Paul’s Footsteps #293

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:6-8 NLT 

Footsteps #293 Having just mentioned in Rom.5:5 the powerful influence of the love of God that the Holy Spirit floods into the hearts of believers, Paul now goes on in Rom.5:6-8 to explore the depths of that love expressed by the cross of Christ.  A God that loved us enough to die for us while we were at war with Him is an unfailing love that will never let us go. 

V6 tells us that Christ died for the weak and the ungodly. “Helpless” or “powerless” is synonymous with weak here. In chapters 1-4 he has already demonstrated how helpless human beings are to earn or achieve their own salvation. The Greek word used for weak frequently refers to the physically limited. Paul’s reference to the impotence and helplessness of the unregenerate sinner stands in contrast to his picture of the justified believer, now rejoicing [Rom.5:1-5] as he grows stronger in hope, in endurance, in character, and in the assurance of God’s love.” 

Christ died not only for the weak but for the ungodly. By ungodly he does not mean that Christ died for some people who were worse than others. On the contrary, all are ungodly and need His grace. Ungodly does not necessarily equate with powerlessness. People may be powerless or weak to earn their salvation, but as both the Bible and the daily news demonstrate, they have plenty of energy to rebel against God. 

The wonder of wonders that Christ would go to the cross for those powerful to do evil. Understand v7 in the context of v6 and then v8 when the apostle explores the meaning of Christ’s death. Here we glimpse the depths of God’s love. Who would you be prepared to die for? In Rom.5 we read that Jesus died not for the worthy but for those in rebellion against Him and the Father. It is that kind of love that undergirds the Christian’s hope.  

Christ died for sinners (v8). With that forceful truth, Paul brings to a climax the line of thought he had begun in v6. God’s love, He has shown, far surpasses human love. The cross proves His love in the sense that He died for the ungodly, for sinners.

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