Romans 5:8- The Demonstration of God’s Love

Tonight I have the privilege of preaching at a homeless shelter in Atlanta that our church supports. As I have wrestled with what to share, I have settled on one of my favorite verses, Romans 5:8. My plan is to break this verse down and explain the gospel as clearly as possible. I’ve included a rough draft of what I plan to say below. If you have the chance to read, I hope that it is helpful to you, too!

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated his love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

This is one of my favorite verses in all of the Bible. Though its just one sentence, it captures the meaning of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It contains the primary theme of God’s Word. It is the key to understanding every book of the Bible. Yet not only is it the key to understanding the Bible, but all of life itself. This one verse has in it the power of life. The power of hope. The power of eternity. Have I convinced you that its important? I hope so!

During my time tonight, I want to stick with this one verse. I want to consider it from every angle. Backwards and forwards. Every word, every phrase. And I want to apply its meaning to our lives. There is not a single person here who doesn’t need to hear what this verse is saying to us. So I ask you- please listen!

Let’s dive in.

But God…” That’s an interesting way to start a verse, don’t you think? But God. Why is the but there? Because of the previous verse. Listen to what it says, “For one will hardly die for a righteous person, though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die.” Then we come to our verse, verse 8, “But God demonstrated his love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Verse 7 says this: that it is unlikely for people to sacrifice their own life for a bad person. Perhaps someone might sacrifice their own life and die for a righteous or a good person, but even that is unlikely. Verse 8 says, But God. It introduces a contrast. He is different. He isn’t like us.

Even though we probably wouldn’t sacrifice our own lives for a righteous or good person, God would. Well, where are the righteous people? The book of Romans also tells us that there are none righteous. No, not one. Rather, we are all sinners.

Well, if we wouldn’t die for good people, we would be hard pressed to die for unrighteous people! Think about it. Would you sacrifice your life for someone who rejected you? Who hated you? Who didn’t want anything to do with you? No, we wouldn’t. Not naturally. But God is different. He did. He sacrificed His life for the unrighteous. For the sinful. For those who rejected Him. For those that hated him. But how? And why?

Let’s continue in our verse, “But God demonstrated His love for us…” God demonstrated His love. Love is a word that has been overused in our culture. We say we love everything. We say things like, “I love the Braves, I love Chinese food, I love fishing, etc.” But real, biblical love is a commitment to sacrifice one’s self for the object (or person) loved. And that kind of love must be demonstrated. It must be acted out. You can’t show sacrificial love without the sacrifice.

If you love something, it’ll show, right? Your actions will follow what your heart loves. If you love certain things, you’ll sacrifice to get those things. Love is demonstrated by our actions. If someone loves money, they will sacrifice their life and family to get it. If someone loves sports, they’ll sacrifice their time and energy to enjoy it.

What does this verse say God loves? US.You & me. The people He created. But if He loves us, with a true, biblical love, that love must be demonstrated. Well that’s exactly what our verse says that He did! He demonstrated his love for us. He proved his love for us. He displayed to the world how much He loves us. And we should expect that love to be shown through sacrifice, right? Just like we talked about- real love requires sacrifice for the thing or the one loved.

But how does God demonstrate His love for us? Let’s continue in our verse. “…in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Let’s focus on the phrase “while we were still sinners.” This brings us back to the beginning of our verse, “But God.” Remember: people don’t often die for good people. But God, our verse says, shows his love for us in this way, that He died for us, while we were bad people. While we were yet sinners.

The word “while” means “at the same time.” The apostle Paul was writing this letter to people who were probably alive during Jesus’ lifetime. He is telling them, “Look, while you were still living sinfully, rejecting God, and trying to be your own God, Christ died for you.” For those of us reading his words 2,000 years later, he is saying this: Christ died for you, knowing that you would be a sinner. He knew that you would live a life enslaved to sin, that you would reject Him and try to live your own way. Even though He knew all that, He died for you. Even though you were a sinner, He died for you.

I want you to consider some of the worst things you’ve done. The things you would be ashamed to speak of in front of people. It may be something you’ve done, or a thought that you’ve had. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We all have heinous, evil sin in our hearts. But God has shown His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners¸ Christ died for us. Every sin that you have ever committed can be forgiven and washed away in Christ. Why? Because while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you.

But why is this a demonstration of God’s love? Why did Christ have to die? You see, it is because of the fact that we are sinners that Christ has to die. The very same book of Romans tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

God created the world with Adam and Eve to be a place of love, unity, and truth. But when they sinned, death and brokenness entered the world. We see signs of this brokenness all around us: sickness, disease, broken relationships, the physical difficulty of life, murder, hatred, racism, etc. All of these are symptoms of our broken relationship with God, and all of them are caused by mankind’s sin.

All of this sin leads to death. So the only way for them to be forgiven and done away with is by a sacrificial death. But not just any sacrificial death. Only the death of a perfect and righteous person can atone for another person’s sins. And only the death of someone who is divine- i.e. God Himself- can atone for an eternity’s worth of sins!

But God has demonstrated His love for us – by giving His own Son to us. Jesus is God’s Son, who came and lived a perfect life on our behalf. He never sinned. He lived according to God’s perfect design. He fulfilled God’s Law perfectly. But He died in our place, as if He had broken all of God’s law. He died on cross and took the judgment of God against our sins. He paid the penalty our sins deserve. He was broken for us. This is how God demonstrates His love for us- by giving us HIS SON to die for us.

But Jesus didn’t just live and die for us. He was raised for us! He was resurrected from the dead, proving that he defeated death forever. Now- for those very same sinners he died for- if they turn from their sin and trust in Jesus, believing Him for who He is- and believing in His life, death, and resurrection for the forgiveness of their sin, He promises to forgive their sin, give them HIS righteousness, and restore them in a relationship to God the Father.

And even though we still live in a broken world, we are restored in our relationship to God. We have heaven as our home. And little by little, we pray and ask God’s kingdom to come in our lives and in the lives of those we touch. We can grow in our relationship with God. We can pursue righteousness. We are given the Holy Spirit who helps us walk in obedience to Jesus. And He helps us walk, not in the brokenness of our sin, not in the fear and shadow of death, but in life, peace, and hope.

That is how God has shown His love to you. He does love you. And he has proven it! By giving his Son to die for you, for the forgiveness of your sins, so that you may be reconciled to Him and walk in newness of life.

My friends, I ask you, will you turn from your sins and trust Christ? Will you believe that God has demonstrated His love for you, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for you?

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