Paul’s mention of the love of God in the passage we considered in yesterday’s study was his first explicit reference to the subject in Romans. Of course, the theme of God’s love has been underlying everything Paul has said thus far in his epistle. But he now focuses in on the subject in this section where he is demonstrating the security of believers as a result of their justification. Yesterday’s passage affirmed that we have reason to hope because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts. Today’s passage expands on the idea of God’s love for us, building toward tomorrow’s passage, in which Paul shows us the absolute certainty and awesome nature of our hope in Christ.
To help us understand the depth of God’s love for us, Paul paints a picture in this passage of the natural human condition: “without strength” (or powerless, v. 6), “ungodly” (v. 6), and “sinners” (v. 8). This is entirely consistent with all that Paul has said to this point—all people are naturally unable to please God and, worse, are in open rebellion against Him. But God did not reject the human race because of this enmity, though He would have been just to do so. Instead, He gave the race an awesome display of His love. As Paul puts it, “Christ died for the ungodly” and “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So great was God’s love for His sinful, rebellious, unworthy people that He took on humanness and died to claim them for Himself.
This is a picture of unparalleled love, far exceeding human norms. As Paul notes, it is a rare thing for someone to willingly lay down his life for “a righteous man,” a kind of person who, because he does all that is required of him, inspires respect but little true affection. On the other hand, it is within the realm of possibility that someone would die for “a good man,” someone who does well by others and thus receives high esteem. But who would think of giving his life for an ungodly sinner? The amazing answer Paul gives is that Jesus would—and did. He died for those who were neither righteous nor good. And in doing so, He gave a matchless demonstration of God’s love.
If God loved and cherished us when we were at war with Him, what will He do now that we are reconciled to Him? We can be assured of salvation because the same God who loved us then loves us now, and will love us for eternity.
We tend to think secretly (perhaps subconsciously) that God must have loved us for somereason within ourselves. But Scripture says there was nothing in us to love. Have you begun to understand the amazing nature of divine love? Pray that you might grasp the depth ofyour sin, that you might better appreciate God’s love for you.