You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This verse is one of those ones that pops up a lot. People like it. It shows God’s mercy and grace. But I think a lot of people use it without considering more deeply what it means.
What this verse tells us is that Jesus came to save us when we were still sinners. When we were ungodly. When the best of our ‘good’ works were like a stinking, disgusting rubbish heap.
It tells us that we didn’t deserve Jesus to come and die in our place.
In fact it tells us that the complete opposite was actually true – we were living in rebellion to God. Since the fall, God has revealed his law to us and we have continually disobeyed it. The law of God is a direct reflection of his character – it is good, just, pure, right and true. But the truth is we simply can’t obey God’s law perfectly. We cannot meet his perfect standard. The law is good, and it shows that we are evil. It is just and it shows just how corrupt and sinful we are. It is perfect and right, and it shows just how far we miss the mark. We didn’t deserve to have Jesus come and save us. We were still sinners.
Therefore this verse also tells us of God’s fantastic, awesome and entirely undeserved grace and mercy. He sent Jesus into the world when we were still living in rebellion to him. When we rightfully deserved his punishment, because by disobeying his law we directly stand against God’s character and rebel against him. We were sinners! We were the ones who deserved hell. Yet Jesus suffered that wrath for us. He died in our place at just the right time. On the cross He paid the penalty for sin that we would spend eternity in hell paying for. That’s what Jesus did for us. He took our stinking rubbish heap and replaced it with his perfect righteousness (because he never sinned). What a glorious saviour! What a wonderful Lord! He certainly is worthy of all praise!
Jesus didn’t come into the world to save us because we are good, or because we’re worth it, or because we deserve it. He came into the world to save us because he is good, even though we are bad and unworthy. Because he is gracious and merciful, because he wanted to make his character known and because he wanted us to be able to glorify him like we were created to do.
How should we be living in response to that if we claim to be Christians?
That’s why there is absolutely no room for pride in our lives.
Soli deo Gloria!