Of all the things we struggle with in life, understanding and receiving God’s love can be at the top of the list. Sometimes in life you need a reminder of how much God loves you because let’s face it, it is easy to forget. I believe Romans 5:8 is that reminder.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
If there is a verse that can sum up the message of the gospel, a verse that can show the simplicity and complexity of God’s love for us, then Romans 5:8 is definitely a candidate. There are many verses in the Bible that you can commit to memory. But because Romans 5:8 is such an incredible verse, you should consider adding this one to your memory bank if you haven’t done so already. Let’s understand why.
What Does This Verse Mean?
To understand why Romans 5:8 is such an incredible verse let’s break down the elements in the verse.
“But God” - These two words are probably the two greatest transitional words in the entire Bible. Regardless of what is going on when these two words appear, everything changes. In other words, it doesn’t matter what was happening before; when God intervenes something is about to happen. To give these two words some more texture, it's really important to look at verse 7:
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God...” (Romans 5:7-8).
Paul was telling us that even for the most righteous person, you might be able to find someone who would be willing to die for them, but that is very rare, almost impossible. Yet here is where the “But God” comes into play. God offered Jesus as a sacrifice, not for those who were righteous or who were even good. God offered Jesus for us who were sinners. There is no one who would be willing to do that.
Imagine for a second an innocent man on death row. You know he's not guilty, but he is set to be executed. Would you be willing to die in that man's place? Most people would not and would consider it a tragedy that an innocent man was executed. However, imagine a man on death row who is guilty and is about to receive the penalty for his crime. You decide to die for that man in his place allowing him to go free. This is exactly what God did for us. This is the “But God.”
“Demonstrates his own love for us in this” – The message of the gospel is not just about God saying he loves us. It is about God showing and proving he loves us. This is why the real proof of love is not just by what you say, it is by what you do. As much as God could say he loves us if he left us in our sinful condition, without offering a way out, then that would not be love.
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” - The demonstration of his love leads to this one great act, Christ dying for you and me. The greatest treasure of heaven was sacrificed to win back the worst sinners on earth. That’s why if you ever run into a place where you question just how much God loves you, simply remember the cross. This is the forever reminder and proof of how great God’s love is for you.
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What Is the Context of Romans 5?
The book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome. Within this portion of the letter, he is extending a conversation that started in chapter 4 regarding justification by faith. When you look at the verses leading up to verse 8, Romans 5:6 is another one that helps you further understand God’s love. I really like the way it reads in the NLT:
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6).
This further shows and highlights the importance of the gospel message and reminds us why Romans 5:8 is such an incredible verse. Not only were we sinners, that would have been enough, but we were also helpless. That word in the Greek can also be translated as morally or physically weak or without strength.
Another way of thinking about it is that we had nothing to offer God. There was nothing redeemable about you and me. In the eyes of the world we would be the ones you would leave for dead because there was nothing worth saving. We were weak, helpless sinners who most people would not have given the time of day ... but God.
This is what makes God’s love for you and me so truly amazing, because it was expressed to us when we didn’t deserve love. One of the great lies of the enemy is to get you to believe that God has stopped loving you, for whatever reason. If you ever feel that way please remember this truth: If God could love you when you were at your absolute worst, when you were weak, sinful and helpless, when you should have been left in your own sinful condition with no hope of rescue – if he could love you when you were in that condition, surely he loves you now.
What Does This Verse Mean for Our Everyday Lives?
There is one thing that comes to mind when I read Romans 5:8 and you might think it’s a strange word. That word is confidence. No not arrogance, confidence. Here is what I mean. You can have confidence in God’s great love for you, you never have to doubt it.
I know sometimes life hits hard and it can shake your belief and confidence in God's love for you. That’s why you have to go back to Romans 5:8 and put this incredible verse in your heart. The greatest problem you had in your life was your sin problem and God dealt with that. You can be certain that he will help you with any other challenge that life brings, because he loves you.
Understand the Power of God’s Love
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
Since God has dealt with the punishment that comes from sin, we have nothing left to fear. You can now walk in the confidence that comes from God’s perfect love. Just simply knowing that God’s love, demonstrated through Christ’s death on the cross has forever dealt with your eternal punishment, that is not only reason for confidence. More importantly that is reason to rejoice.
What Should This Verse Mean for Our Outreach and Evangelism?
Romans 5:8 is not only an incredible verse for those who are already saved, it is an incredible verse for those yet to be saved. This verse gives hope even to the most desperate and hardened of sinners, which is what some of us were.
You can share the hope of God’s love with those who feel helpless, worthless, and who think they are not worth God’s time. Romans 5:8 can be a reminder to them that they are. I pray that the heartbeat of this verse would pulse through all of us as believers and we would never see anyone as a lost cause. Remember, for everyone that looks like a lost cause there is a “but God” love waiting to embrace them and restore them.
Walk in His Love
There really is no way to sum up God’s love with a few words. It is far too great for that. As I was writing this article, a song kept resonating in my heart and that is what I want to leave you with today.
O how he loves you and me
O how he loves you and me
He gave his life
What more could he give
O how he loves you
O how he loves me
O how he loves you and me
I pray that you would live today walking in the awesome and wonderful love that God has shown and will continue to show you.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Kalawin
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
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