The Great Love of God - Romans 5:5-8
If you grew up in a Christian home then one of the first songs you ever learned was probably Jesus Loves Me. The love of God is something that is referenced a lot. We sing about it. We read about it in the Scriptures. But even though we refer to the love of God a lot, it’s still something that many Christians misunderstand, or even doubt.
For some, there is a struggle to believe that God does in fact really love them personally. Sure, God is love, but we know our weaknesses and deep down there may be doubts about the fullness of God’s love for us. It’s from this that we can be tempted to try and earn God’s love or to think that we may somehow lose it.
On the other hand there are those who herald God’s love all the while believing that somehow they’ve earned it. That God continues to love us because of our faithfulness or good works.
Both of these errors lead to the belief that the love of God isn’t certain – that if we change then His love may change. And yet this isn’t the teaching of the Bible. In Romans 5 Paul helps us recognize that God’s loves us has been proven and applied, apart from our earning it or deserving it.
Context – Romans 5:1-11
After establishing our need in Romans 1 and 2, in Romans 3 and 4 Paul introduces the blessed truth that we can be justified before God through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
After introducing the doctrine of justification by faith, in chapter 5 Paul begins to share the benefits of our sanctification, which includes peace with God (5:1), access to God (5:1), a future hope (5:2) and joy in suffering (5:3-4). Serving as a foundation for all of this is the love of God that has been demonstrated in the Son and applied by the Spirit (5:5-8).
The Love of God Demonstrated – Jesus died for sinners (5:6-8)
- Our condition (The objects of God’s Love) – While we are tempted to think that God’s love rises and falls based on our good days and bad days, Paul help us recognize that God’s love has never been contingent on us. In fact, He loved us first when we were the most unlovely: when we were weak (5:6), ungodly (5:6), sinners (5:8) and enemies (5:10). Paul makes it unbelievably clear that there was nothing in us that prompted God to set His love on us.
- His work (The action of God’s Love) – Not only does God love us apart from anything in us, but He loves us at a great cost to Himself.
- Jesus died for sinners – We love those who are lovely, those who love us and those who bring us joy and happiness, but God set His love on sinners. He loved the unlovely. And He showed His love through the death of His Son on our behalf (Galatians 2:20b).
- An illustrative comparison - To help us consider how remarkable God’s love is Paul provides a comparative illustration. While some would die for the righteous or the good, Jesus died for sinners and enemies (1 John 4:9-10).
The Love of God Experienced – We are filled with the Holy Spirit (5:5)
- A certain hope – After describing our hope in 5:1-4 Paul assures us that our hope is certain. It is guaranteed through the love of God that is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
- Love poured into our hearts – In verses 6-8 Paul describes ademonstration of love that happened outside of us. In vs. 5 he tells of something that happens within us. That God’s love is poured into our hearts. This is God’s love applied and experienced.
- Through the Holy Spirit (The agent of God’s Love) - When we believe, God sends His Holy Spirit to take up residence in our hearts. The Spirit is the embodiment of the love of God. The Spirit comes into us and in this way we experience the love of God. In this way we know, personally, the love of God (Romans 8:15-16).
- As a gift of God (unmerited) – Again, the love of God is given, not earned or merited. It’s also a love we will never lose (Romans 8:35-39).
Application – How should we respond to the love of God? (3 of many)
- Rest – A right understanding of God’s love should lead us to rest in Him. We can rest in knowing that His love isn’t something we earned and it’s not something we can lose.
- Love like He loves – A right understanding of God’s love should lead us to love others the way we have been loved. In fact, we are told that those who have received this love should love this way (1 Jn. 4:10-11).
- Share –A right understanding of God’s love should lead us to share the invitation to His love with others. The more we recognize how underserving we are and how gracious God has been to us, the more we should desire to share the gift of the love of God with others.