6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
One quick thought before we look at the context of this verse…do you realize every sin you’ve ever committed was in the future when Christ died for the ungodly? Think about how that affects your theology. For those who may be thinking “you’ll get good enough and then God will save you”…perish that thought.
So to understand the context, remember Paul’s letter to the Romans can be broken down as:
1:16-17 The Gospel
So we find ourselves developing Justification in verses 6-8. Paul has expanded in 5:1 that we have been justified by faith and he has explained that this transaction by faith into this grace, in which we stand also allows us to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God because even in our state of grace, which we now stand, we will have sufferings. Fear not, it is not as though the sufferings do not have value on the contrary Paul develops that these sufferings have MUCH value. Much like James 1:2 and 1 Peter 6 these sufferings produce endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame. Not to leave you confused Paul explains why this hope does not put us to shame, “because God’s Love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (vs 5) Don’t miss the point here, we are not the center piece of this story…God’s love is. That is why Paul explains in our memory verse that while we were still sinners Christ died for us, the ungodly. In case we didn’t understand Paul is leading us to the issue of sanctification. Since we were saved when we were ungodly, literally enemies of God (vs 10) how much more now that we are reconciled shall we be saved by His life. If He was able to save us as enemies, as His children He will also be able to sustain us. (see 1 Cor 1:8, Phil 1:6, Jude 24, Heb 12:2) This builds into Paul’s case that as we were Justified (that point in time you were saved) you will also be sanctified (the process of conforming you to Christ likeness through the power of the Holy Spirit). Paul will continue to develop this through the next few chapters but the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit in our lives is driven by Love that is poured into our hearts through His Holy Spirit. That is why Paul states in 6:17 that though we were once slaves of sin “we have become obedient from the heart”. We don’t obey God because we have to, we obey from the heart because we love Him…why do we love Him-because He first loved us (1Jn 4:19).