“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.” (Romans 5:6–7, NKJV)
Are you sure God loves you? Do you feel His love? Where do you look to answer those questions? Feelings? Circumstances? I hope not. When it comes to experiencing the love of God, they are by definition the very worst kind of fair weather friends. They only work when they do, and even then they don’t!
In our text this morning, Paul offers a better way: look back to the cross and think for a minute. Think of the people God was willing to embrace.
The Helpless: “While we were still without strength….” Paul’s language describes our spiritual incapacity— Unable to help ourselves, to improve ourselves— Unable even to come to God.
What’s more, we were godless. “In due time Christ died for the ungodly.” In the book of Romans, Paul has never before spoken of God’s love, but he has had much to say about ungodliness. Who are these people embraced by the love of God? They are the very ungodly ones who so richly deserve His wrath (Romans 1:18ff)!
In the final analysis, these recipients of the profligate love of God are also, ‘Worthless”. Paul makes that clear in verse 7, ‘For scarcely for a righteous man will one die. Yet perhaps for a good man someone would dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were without strength, Christ died for us. We would never throw away our treasure on worthless investments, but God did. We would never lay down our lives for the trashy, but God did. We would never send one of our children to die in the place of the deadbeat. But that is precisely what God did. And what’s more, He did it for deadbeats who hated him!
To see the love of God, think also of the price God was willing to pay. The Treasure he wasted on the downbeat God-hater was none other than His one and only, well beloved Son. Would a bride sacrifice her wedding dress on her wedding day to wipe the vomit of a drunk? Would anyone let careless boys play around their new car? Yet God so loved this world, He sent His Son down Into a World of mayhem, chaos, and darkness, where men would underestimate Him, despise Him reject Him, and whip Him. Then, when they were finished doing their worst, on a trash-heap outside Jerusalem, they would kill Him. Here is God saving us from God. Why? Simply because He loved us. Does this love, not predicate at least some worth to us, you might ask? No. The only worth in this equation is found in the God who would stoop to love such hellions.
To see God’s love aright, think, in the last place, of the promise God is Willing to Keep. “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:9–10, NKJV). Is this not our great fear: God may have loved me once, but He will not love me always? Something I will do will stop Him from loving me ever again! Ah, but dear friend, once God begins to love someone, He never stops. He loves them with an always and forever kind of love.
To establish this point, Paul argues from a greater to the lesser argument:“If this, then much more that.” If a boy buys a girl a diamond ring it would be safe to assume that he will let her keep the cardboard box in which it came? If a Father went to the back breaking trouble of building a tree house for his kids, could you imagine him forbidding them from playing in it? Would a mother go to the trouble of making her children dinner, and then not allow them to eat it?
So it is with the love of God. Paul says, Is it not safe to assume that if God loved us enough to send His Son to hell for our redemption, to condemn HIs Son with our sin, to justify us with His Son’s righteousness. And if God paid that cost, and removed that obstacle, when we were only sin (to the very core of our being), is it not safe to assume that if he has already gone to those lengths for sinners, that He will stop at nothing when it comes to loving forgiven sinners? That if He loved us once, when we were only sin, surely He will love us always? If He loved us when we were enemies, surely He will not stop loving us now that we have become His friends?