We have discovered who needs salvation and explored why we need salvation. Now we turn to how God provides salvation for us all. Coming to God isn’t meant to be difficult. He provides a way through very simple means. Don’t misunderstand, though. Through these simple means, we are opened to a whole new world of possibilities–faith, hope, true joy, and a renewed focus on life.
While We Were Still Sinners…
As we look into the next verse on the Romans Road to Salvation, we must first remember the idea behind this phrase. “While we were still sinners,” we were separating ourselves from God. “While we were still sinners,” we were rejecting God. “While we were still sinners,” we were at war with God. We were basically constantly betraying God’s trust and turning against Him. Is this such a small thing? His own creation–a species meant to be close to Him, created in His image–was standing against Him constantly. Were we, as a people, ONLY against God? No! However, we learned before that one sin deserves death. One sin puts us against Him. One sin gives us the title of “sinner,” just like one murder gives us the title “murderer.”
Think about this for a second. Think of someone close to you. If you are a parent, this is most easily relate-able, but if you are not, think of your spouse, sibling, best friend, parent, or anyone else close to you–one that you trust most in life. I will look at this passage as a parent, though. Why? Primarily, as a parent, we do what we can to teach our children right from wrong. We work to instill in them qualities that will take them far in life, and offer guidance that works in their best interest. These are qualities of God to all His children as well. Look at this following explanation from that point of view (or one of the other relationships if you can’t relate).
This person, all of a sudden, does something unthinkable to you. Maybe they steal money. Maybe they sabotage a project you are working on, or disrupt one of your personal relationships out of spite. Maybe, out of nowhere, they decide to spread lies about you or act as if you didn’t exist (think “cheating” as a spouse–or completely ignoring you as a parent). This stuff hurts! This is definitely something that will damage your relationship with this person. It is the act, though, that we detest, and not the person. If we’re close enough, we still love the person as much as it hurts. The act separates them from you bit by bit. Of course, if this type of thing continues, a large wall can develop making the once close relationship so distant that it is unrecognizable.
If you are close to the person you are thinking of, this is a tough pill to swallow. But this is the reality of sin and what it does to our relationship with God. If you, or someone you know, are (is) living far enough into sin, you may not even recognize that God desires that relationship. That wall is so developed that any semblance of a relationship with Him is unrecognizable. If you are living that far into sin, you may not even recognize your actions as sin. It is in this context that we look at the next verse.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were still sinners, God still loved us! John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Christ is His Son. Eternal life is Salvation. God provided a way! While we were at war with Him, he still gave his all! Think about this: If a spouse was unfaithful to you and you found out, what would you do? How would you feel? That trust would definitely be affected. Now, what if they did it again…and again….and again? After that 70th time, would you then give everything you have to make sure he or she could find joy again? Or would you be so far withdrawn from the relationship that you wouldn’t try very hard anymore? Would things even last till 70th time?
It’s human nature to discard of relationship a lot sooner than that. People are amazed at relationships and marriages that are restored after infidelity creeps in and is discovered. But, God provides a way for us to be made right again. Christ died for all of us–whether we were deliberately separating ourselves from God or unconsciously. Notice that it doesn’t say “was killed for us.” He deliberately gave Himself up for us. Whether or not our separation was deliberate or not, His solution was very deliberate.
How Jesus Was the First Avenger
Okay, he’s not a product of Marvel, but when I read this verse, I’m reminded of that Movie: Captain America–The First Avenger. Captain America’s character’s name was Steve Rogers. He grew up wanting to serve in the Army almost all his life. The only problem was his size. He was very short and had almost no muscle. He was all heart and determination, but that wasn’t enough to compete with his tall, muscular comrades in Basic Training. Because of his size, he was made fun of by almost everyone (if not everyone) in the camp. He pushed through it because he knew this was a means to an end. He WAS going to be in the army. What does this have to do with Romans? Stay with me. I’m going to talk about a critical event that happened in the movie so…
[SPOILER ALERT]You see, everyone was rejecting him. They were separating him. They were going against him. He wasn’t their leader or anything, or even the Son of God, but he pressed through with his honest heart. This all led up to a training exercise. Col. Phillips threw a fake grenade into the midst of all the trainees. Everyone ran away from the grenade, searching for cover. At the same time, Steve dove right onto the grenade and waved people away. This wasn’t a real grenade, but Steven didn’t know this at the time. While they were still against him, he laid down his life for them.
Now do you see it? God’s heart is for mankind. He wants to see you saved. He dropped down on that grenade knowing full well that it was real. He did it knowing that he could save all of us so we didn’t have to run for cover.
Romans 5:8 leads us to this truth–Jesus Christ died on the cross to save you from sin and death. That’s it! I mean, that’s not an easy feat for anyone. He suffered as a man did–all for our sake. That’s love! John 15:13 says: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I believe this. There are friends of mine that I would definitely die for. He did it for us when we were enemies. Do you believe?
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The Message (MSG)
But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
King James Version (KJV)
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
New Living Translation (NLT)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.