God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
The love of God is amazing — but perhaps not for the reason you think.
If you’ll give yourself time to reflect on the love God has for you — not just the church in general, but you in particular — you’ll likely find yourself very moved and encouraged and inspired. But what it is that moves you?
Romans 5:8 is one of the most important biblical statements on the love of God: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
While We Were Still Sinners
What’s so powerful in this text is that it connects our condition with the extent of God’s love.
First is our condition: “while we were still sinners.” It wasn’t that we were beautiful or well deserving. It wasn’t that we were lovely. We were sinners, rebels against God — undeserving of his love, and deserving of his wrath. It wasn’t that we were good or neutral, but we were sinners, with our hearts dead set against God, when he chose to set his love on us.
And so our condition as sinners has a lot to say about his love. He doesn’t just love those who love him, or those who are lovely. He doesn’t love to fill any need in himself. Rather — because he has no needs, because he is totally full in his Trinitarian nature — he is able to give his love to those who don’t deserve it — even more, to those who are against him. To sinners.
Christ Died for Us
But even more revealing of the depths of his love than our dire condition as sinners is the extent he went to demonstrate his love: “Christ died for us.”
This is the greatest possible thing he could have done. There is no one he loves more than his Son, his perfect image (Colossians 1:15), the radiance of his glory and exact imprint of his nature (Hebrew 1:3).
From all eternity, the Father and Son have perfectly loved each other. If there would have been anything that would have kept God from showing us love, it would have been sparing his Son the odious and horrific death of the cross. But if the love flowing between the Father and the Son was so great that not even the Son’s going to the cross would stand in the way, then we can be assured that God truly is ultimately and decisively for us. And so it is. Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Which brings to mind that beautiful expression of the love of God in that most celebrated of all verses, John 3:16: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
What amazing love this is — not just that he would set his love on us “while we were still sinners,” but that he would give his unique Son, his greatest possession, to have us eternally as his adopted sons. The depth of our need, the value of his person, and the extent to which he went to rescue us come together to express the amazing love of God.