This is What Love Looks Like
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Last week were talking about all these benefits that belong to those who are justified by faith. Since we have been justified through faith, we have....
The Justified Have...
Peace with God. (v1)
Access into this grace. (v2)
Hope of the glory of God. (v2)
Then, even in our suffering, when it does not appear that we are loved, when it appears when we have been forgotten. God is still doing something, he hasn’t forgot about us, He has not abandoned us, in fact he is doing something in us. In our suffering God is giving us....
In our suffering God is giving us...
Then, so that we do not think that hope is uncertain, God gives us something else. We can be sure that we have hope in God because we have God’s love poured out into our hearts-through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Our Hope is Certain because....
God gives us His love through the Holy Spirit. (v5)
This having the Holy Spirit, and having God’s love in our hearts is a bit subjective. All Christians, at one time or another certainly may have times where they do not “feel” the Holy Spirit. They may be temporarily caught in sin, or discouragement, and are just not “feeling” very loved by God. What do we do in that situation? If you are not feeling the love of God in your life right now.
At some times, the subjective experience of the love of God is in our hearts. This can give us assurance, but in other times the pressures of life close in on us. The outlook is not so certain in our minds, because our subjective experience of God is being taken over by grief or depression, or pain. Worse yet the enemy seeks to draw us away from God. The thing is-- God has not changed. God of course is the same yesterday, today and forever. But we still sin, so what we think is that God doesn’t love me anymore, because I sinned. This is exactly the tactic the enemy uses, Satan is referred to as the great accuser. He is always trying to accuse us of the sins we commit, and attempt to get us thinking that we are no longer in God’s love. This compounds the problems, and suddenly we no longer “feel” God’s love poured out in our hearts.
But remember how chapter 5 started.
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Therefore, since WE HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED-it is a done deal. The bottom line is we can’t always rely on our subjective experience of God’s love to know that God loves us. We need more of an objective view of God’s love proof, demonstration, concrete evidence. What is this love? What does it look like? How do we know that is real, that God really love us.
Did you ever notice this with children? All kids need some sort of assurance from time to time. For example, sometimes you will be escorting a young child into a new or frightening situation. You may be right beside them, but when things are uncertain, or a little scary, what is the first thing they do? They put up there little hand for you grab on, They know you right there, but they want that objective assurance. Or as one of our moms here is so fond of reminding people make sure the child feels loved, and often that comes with a physical reminder. On occasion, children will not always follow the rules, and need some correction, and through there sobs, they may even ask do you still love me? You may reply of course I still love you.
Let’s start by taking a look at verse 5.
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
God’s love is poured into our hearts, but we like a scared child my be reaching our hand up to say, I need to know more I need to see a concrete example of that love so that I can understand and know for sure. So Paul writes,
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
The verse here in the NIV starts with You see. It is a connecting word, translated here as you see, in other translations as For-F-o-r. It is there because Paul is going to explain that last thought. Here is the explanation of the evidence of God’s love.
You see, at just the right time....Now things start to get really interesting. At just the right time. Paul writes. This well started in the beginning, right? Genesis 1.1, in the beginning, God created everything and of corse man sinned, plunging all of mankind into this predicament of sin, right. Well that was really long time ago.
Many generations lived captive to sin. Suffering from the effects of sin in the world, generation after generation, waiting, hoping for a rescue. The prophets came proclaiming that ONE day-some day- a king would come, yet generation after generation waited and nothing happened. I wonder if those people wondered if God had abandoned them, Then there was the exile. Nebuchandezzar invaded, people died, others were carried them off to exile. Did they wonder about God’s timing? God when is your promise going to come true. Just like we wonder about God’s timing.
Time has a tendency to make us question God’s love doesn’t it? When we don’t see the answer to prayer in our time or even our lifetime we wonder if God still loves us. We are consumed with the time we live in. But God is not bound by time. God is eternal. Without beginning or end. All of time is before Him, and he is not constrained by time, yet He intervenes in it. He steps in from outside of it’s boundaries.
When the earth had made enough revolutions and, when the course of events led to the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, when the Pharisee sect in judaism began to flourish. When the time had come for Caiaphas to be high priest, and the people wondered, when would God’s promise come true. When Herod took the throne, at just the right time.
It was just the right time for Cesar Augustus to issue a decree that a census be taken, and it was just the right time for a man and a virgin from Nazareth to have to make their way to Bethlehem. You see it was just the right time for the baby Jesus to be born, It was just the right time for Simeon to see the baby Jesus, who he waited for for his entire life. When it was just the right time to send an innocent man from Galilee to the cross.
A few years too soon, Rome was not occupying Jerusalem, a few years later and Jerusalem would fall, and the temple destroyed. This was at just the right time. Paul said this in another letter, the letter to the Galatians.
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
If that isn’t interesting enough...., the phrase here in Romans 5.6, isn’t only referring to that specific moment in history, but instead it also relates to us today. Our personal timeline. Your life, my life, our Grandparents lives, our children’s lives.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
That time, when WE were still powerless. The We makes it personal. The people in this letter that Paul is writing, were not necessarily there at the cross when Jesus died, some were not even born yet, so when he uses we it is all those who are justified by faith. Not everyone, just those justified by faith.
At just the right time, when we were still powerless. That means when were we without the power to be able to justify ourselves. When we were incapable of being righteous on our own. That was just the right time for us. When we were helpless. When we were dead in our trespass and sin. When we were unable to rescue ourselves, at just the right time Christ died for the ungodly. We were part of the ungodly.
Now let’s start to think about this a little. Our love, human love is constrained by time. We cannot love someone we do not know, we have to at least know them. We have to know them so that we can give our love through demonstrating to them with some sort of action. Yet...
God’s Love is not constrained by time.
God has all of time time before Him. He is not restricted by time. God knew Adam would fall, and Jesus would need to come, yet he created him anyway. God knew who you were before you were born. God knew you would sin and part of the ungodly yet, at just the right time, while you were still powerless, without power, incapable of offering anything to God to make up for your sin or atone for your sin, while you were still dead in your trespass and sin, Christ died personally for you. This letter is written to a specific group of real people in a real Church in Rome.
It is also written to us. Put your name in there. You see at just the right time, when Greg was still powerless, Christ died. This is so unusual because if we contrast God’s love with Human love, we find that human love is restricted by time, we have to know the person Here we are ungodly, that means we are without God, or we do not know God. How is it possible to love someone who does not know you.
When I did not know God. When I was without power to justify myself, Christ died for me.
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.
When we love people, it is different than when God loves people Paul gives us two examples. First is the righteous person. This is not absolute righteousness, such as God’s righteousness. This is not a a heart righteousness. He is talking about an external righteousness, by observing the law, at least on the outside. This is person that has it all together. They never appear to do anything wrong. Paul says only very rarely will people actually die for them. They may bring them a hot dish or something but when push comes to shove people are not jumping up to take a bullet for them.
The next person Paul mentions is the good person, this is the person, who is characterized by goodwill. Picture this person as the one you have a brotherly love. This person, like an army buddy, you might put your life on the line for this person. You might say fall on a grenade for this person. Our love is determined by the character of the person we love, our the relationship they have with us.
But not so with God.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Love has to defined by some action. People cannot know you love them, unless there is a visible action something that shows them that you love them.
You know a certain person, you know what they are like, you know what makes them tick. You know their character, and something in that attracts you to them. They are nice or funny. They are kind and loving. You have a love for them, and at some point you demonstrate your love for them.
God’s love is completely different. God’s love, But God....always the two sweetest words in Scriptures. But God has other plans. God demonstrates his love, while we are still sinners. While we are not looking for God, God’s love it is out there for you to see. For the world to see. The world ungodly, so ungodly that they put Christ on the cross. And God the Father who sent God the son knew that the world would do that. God the Father placed God the son Jesus on the cross, freely and willingly for all to see His love.
Now, what do we do with demonstration? We believe, we place our faith in the cross, for our justification.
This verse was very powerful for me. My whole life I tried to clean up, then come to God, the problem was, I could never do that. I’d try, I’d make a run at it, but it would not be very long and I would fall back to my old ways. I was caught in sin. All kinds of sins. I’d confess, then sin, and confess again. It was a vicious cycle. I could not break free. Eventually, I figured I must be doomed. I was hoping with crossed fingers, that maybe, I was not as bad, as I was good. Eventually, I figured, I was not Why try and come when every time I would fail. I resigned myself to the fact that God wasn’t for me.
I was helpless, powerless, I truly knew that. I still do.
But God....At just the right time. I know right where I was. I was at a stoplight, In my truck, late night, listening to the radio. I’m not sure of the radio program, or the preacher but I do remember him saying, But God... demonstrates his own love for us in this, While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
It was like the world started rotating the other direction. Wait a minute, WHILE we were still sinners, God demonstrated his love for us. Not after we cleaned up our act? And this was for me? Not just a faceless mass of humanity, but me personally, in my personal sin?
Here I was-powerless-a helpless sinner-unable to clean myself up, a throw away, trash, nothing. I violated every commandment. Guilt weighed on me, nothing I could do in the sight of God-guilty, and the preacher sounded as if he was talking specifically to me.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God visibly showed the world, His love-through the work of Jesus at the cross. I had guess I knew it, but I looked past it. Before the cross seemed, like a like a general fact that didn’t effect me personally. Like the sky was blue, and clouds were white. It was nice and all and gave religion a place to rally around, and the cross was probably general......
But now, it was like the cross was personal, like it was meant for me. There I was in under the wrath of God But God…had this visible demonstration of His love in the cross of Jesus Christ. And it was through that cross, while I was still a sinner. While I was still ungodly, it was then through that cross that I would be brought near to Jesus
At just the right time-when I was still powerless-Christ died for the ungodly-He died for me.
Tears streamed down my face, - I repented of my sin-right there in my car at the stop light. But this time, I repented, not because I was cleaning myself up, But because God the Father sent His one and only son Jesus to die for me. This made all the difference in the world.
As I repented right there at the stop light-the love of God poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit. Things were different. Life was different. I was justified by faith. I was no longer at war with God, I had peace with God. I was not standing on my failed works, with an uncertain hope in eternity. I now had access to grace, and I stood in that grace.I now had the sure and certain hope of the glory of God.
That all sounds very subjective, and it was, but it was based on this objective reality of the cross of Jesus Christ-This historical point, this turning point in history
Today, if you are among the powerless, today if you are among the ungodly, and today of you know you are sinner, Hear this. At just the right time, Christ died for you, Wile you are still in your sin Jesus died for you. At just the right time, when you could not do anything Christ died for you turn to Him and be saved.