Romans and the Reformation
A Series of Sermons Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation18 June 2017 – Proper 6 - Romans 5:6-15
“God Demonstrates His love for us”
In his letter to the Romans, Paul addresses a predominantly Jewish audience. Jews living in Rome in the 1st Century understood life with the thought that there were, at any given time, three groupings of men living on planet earth. They believed that humanity was divided into three categories of class; the “righteous” (Tzadikim Nistarim) “good men” (Benim) and finally, “the sinners” or ‘evil-ones.’ (Resha’im) 
The “righteous” were in a category all their own. They needed no help from God. They were already perfect, holy and pure. The world was still intact and would not spin out of control because there were at least a few righteous men on the earth at any given time. Sodom and Gomorrah were utterly destroyed because the Lord could not find any righteous men living there. Such righteous ones were men such as Abraham, Enoch, Elijah, and Job just to name a few.
Those reading Paul’s letter for the first time, were very serious concerning their faith. Through ritual, a strict following of the law and by holy living they remained ethical, moral, principled, “good men.” Their goal was simple. To be better.
The rest were simply good for nothing. They were trolls. They were “the dirties” of the world. They were beyond help. They were to be shunned. They were “the ungodly.” They were “helpless,” “sinners.” Beyond God’s mercy. Stay clear of them, they were warned. They were to be avoided. At all costs. So imagine the reaction that must have happened when Paul’s audience heard these remarkable words.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8) This turned their moral compass upside down! It literally rocked their world!
So how do you understand words such as love, mercy, and grace? The worldly do not grasp what true love means. God’s love for us reveals true love. Only by knowing Christ’s mercy are you able to show mercy. Again, this is not a natural characteristic of sinful humankind. By God’s grace, every believer not only knows these divine words but also believes them and lives them. "When you were dead in your sins and in the un-circumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins." (COLOSSIANS 2:13). Thus God reveals His love for us.
“GOD DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN LOVE FOR US…”
I. While we were sinners,
II. Christ has died for us.
I. WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS
A. Every believer lives a similar life to every other human being. Sin infects everyone’s lives. “While we were still sinners…” Verse 8b Paul comes straight to the point. No one can escape the effects of sin that affect all of mankind.
B. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Paul includes himself as a sinner when he uses the word “we”. Sin also lived in him. Sin is destructive. Humans are made “powerless”. No one can save himself. Sin is evil. “Ungodly” describes every sinful thought, word, or deed of any and every believer.
C. “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Remember. The righteous need no one to take their place. The good might find a substitute in their place. The selfishness of sin means that very few are willing to sacrifice their lives for others.
D. Some try to deny that sin exists. Others try to explain away sin. Still others try to redefine the word sin. No matter what people try to do with sin, sin does not and will not go away.
The old song sings. “Ain't no sunshine...Only darkness. Every day.” Sin is still alive and well in our very own lives. Ever since the first sin of Adam no one can, will, or is able to escape sin.
Each of us has inherited a sinful nature from our very first parents. We are not born into this world as friends of God but as enemies. "Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies." (PSALM 58:3). Life begins at conception. Sin starts with life. We are sinful.
E. By now we have come to realize the depth of destruction that sin causes in the lives of every living and breathing person on earth. The world drastically changed forever after sin entered the world. God promised Adam and Eve (and all mankind) a Savior. (GENESIS 3:15).
Because of sin death entered the world. God drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden so they would not eat from the tree of life. In the end, who would really want to live on this globe in this sinful life forever? "For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die" (EZEKIEL 18:4). No one can escape death. Death is a result of sin. Man dies because man sins.
F. God’s law reminds each one of us of our sinfulness. No one likes to hear how bad they are. We do not want to have all of our sins brought up for us to remember. Time and again, God’s law reminds each of us that we daily fall short of the glory of God. We sin daily. We sin much. Even worse, our sinful nature delights in doing that which is evil. "Wicked men…whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil." (PROVERBS 2:12-14). Such are our sinful lives.
All too often we leave the path of righteousness. All too often we walk in dark ways, delight in doing wrong, and rejoice in evil. We are still sinners. “GOD DEMONSTRATES HIS LOVE FOR US…” We are still, always sinners. Christ has died for us.
II. CHRIST HAS DIED FOR US
A. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Believers as sinners are “powerless”. Believers acting as sinners are “ungodly”. Powerless to save ourselves God sent his son, Christ, to die for sinners.
B. Paul explains the depth of the meaning of Christ’s death for these believers who are powerless.
Verse 8b: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is God’s great love for all. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!” Verse 9 Jesus’ blood cleanses all people from sin, God’s anger is gone.
C. “For if, when 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!” Enemies of God are now made right (reconciled) with God. Enemies are now saved by grace. “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Believers’ lives are changed forever!
D. Once again, we begin to approach the depth of the meaning of God’s great love for each and every one of us. Our sins condemn us. We are powerless to save ourselves. Every day we sin against God with terrible thoughts, wicked words, and evil actions. The good that we ought to do and do not do is also sin. In spite of all of this our God loves us and forgives us. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (ISAIAH 53:6).
E. Graciously our loving Lord does not keep a record of our sins. The fact is that the Lord God Almighty sees sin as sin. In God’s eyes all sins are the same. Only in man’s thinking are there different degrees of sin. Big sins, small sins, worse sins, and not so bad sins are terms we use to describe sin. God’s term for missing the mark is simply sin. God’s forgiveness for our sins is simply complete. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 JOHN 1:7). Only by the blood of Jesus is there forgiveness. This holy blood of Jesus forgives all sin: not a few, some, or many but ALL sin. God shows us his great love
F. Like every other believer our lives are dramatically and drastically changed forever. “Powerless, ungodly” sinners are freely given complete forgiveness. Consider God’s great love for us undeserving and wretched sinners. We can never, ever repay the debt of love that God has shown to each and every one of us. Nor does God expect it. Our lives are changed. "Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own; eager to do what is good." (TITUS 2:14).
This is the story of grace. Christ gained more than Adam lost. You are restored back to God through the work of Jesus.
As believers we can turn from that which is evil and be eager to do what is good. This makes all the difference in the world and for the world today. You are now the shining lights in today’s darkness. We do not deserve God’s great love. We cannot earn God’s mercy. It is only by the free grace of God that we are saved. We are sinners, always.
We are sinners, forgiven of all sins. This is God’s great love to us and for us. This is also God’s great love to and for all humankind.
The difference for believers is that we know we are sinners who have been freely forgiven purely out of God’s divine love, mercy, and grace. "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." (EPHESIANS 2:4, 5) “GOD DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN LOVE FOR US…” Even though we are sinners. Christ has still died for us.
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability – 82.4%
Reading Level – 4.3