“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
God’s own love is our spiritual life blood. God’s own love sustains us through uncertainty. It compels us to reach the lost. It compels us to reconcile divisions. God’s own love is powerful. But how can we define it? How can we understand it so that it can have its powerful impact on us? “Christ died for us.” These words define God’s love. They show us the extent of God’s love. What does the context of this verse show us about “His own love”?
First, God’s own love is superior to the best love the world has to offer (Romans 5:7). People may heroically give their lives for those they view as righteous or good, but God’s love goes beyond anything people in this world have to offer. No matter how sentimental, sacrificial, or love based a person’s love is, it doesn’t measure up to “His own love.” Loving does not save us from our sin. You can’t cancel the wrongs you have done by sacrificing in love. That degrades true love and makes it a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6). We are not saved by works; no matter how good we think they are (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). The sinner can’t love enough to cleanse away their sin.
We just don’t measure up to God’s holy standard. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Unrighteousness is breaking the last six of the Ten Commandments: dishonoring parents; murdering or thinking hatefully toward others; committing adultery or having lustful thoughts; stealing; speaking untruthfully; and coveting. This kind of sin is at the root of the world’s problems. Humanity is the culprit. God, on the other hand, in His own love has made a way to overcome the sinful ills of this fallen world. When people shake a fist at God and blame Him for everything wrong with this world, they ought to look in the mirror and consider that all our problems and pains are due to the sinful decisions of humanity in rebellion toward God.
Any love shown by any person, saved or unsaved, is a product of God and His grace (James 1:17; 1 Cor. 15:10). Judgment or justice is getting what you deserve. We deserve the death penalty because of our sins. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. God has made a way to justly and judicially save us from our sins. He sent Jesus to die for us. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. We receive God’s loving solution to our sin problem in salvation. We receive God’s love poured into our hearts in regeneration (Rom. 5:5).
Second, God’s own love loves even sinners (Romans 5:8). God loves the unlovable. God loves those who don’t deserve to be loved. Sinners are those who have broken the holy law of God. Sinners are those who cause pain to others. Sinners miss the mark of God. Sinners are stained with the tar of sin. They have an indelible black mark of rebellion against God. But God loves sinners and He demonstrates His own love to them. And His love does not rest on words alone.
Third, God’s own love is extremely sacrificial (Romans 5:8-10). It states, “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:8), “Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), “having now been justified by His blood” (Rom. 5:9), and “through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). God doesn’t love with pleasant platitudes. God’s own love acts and goes all the way. God demonstrates His own love to all through the death of His Son Jesus on the cross. A crueler more painful death would be hard to find. It is the spiritual aspect of Christ on the cross that makes His death unmatched in severity. The perfect, sinless, blemishless Jesus, who had never experienced any sin or disconnect from the Father, went to the cross and experienced the full brunt and extent of the penalty of sin; separation from His Father (e.g. Mat. 27:46; Ps. 22). All the filthiness of the sins of humanity were dumped on Him. God did that on the cross. Our filthy sin created a chasm separating us from Him (Is. 59:2). He made a bridge that we might cross over to Him through faith in Christ. It wasn’t the nails that held Jesus to the cross, it was His love for us (Gal. 2:20). God’s own love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8). God’s own love always does what it takes to redeem the lost. God’s own love is substitutionary. The love of God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves (2 Cor. 5:21).
Fourth, God’s own love is always “much more” (Romans 5:9, 10). God’s own love is always “much more” than we conceive it to be. You can’t exhaust God’s own love. You can pray to know the “width and length and depth and height” of God’s love but there will always be “much more” for you to experience and know about it (Eph. 3:18-19). What benefits are there for us who experience God’s love?
God’s own love justifies us from sin by Christ’s blood (Romans 5:9b). Jesus paid the death penalty of sin for us to establish a just legal basis for forgiveness of our sins. The just penalty for sin is death and God’s wrath. But God in His own love provided a way to escape that wrath. The first 5 verses of Romans 5 indicate when we put our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior we are justified before God. That means through faith in Christ we receive a just legal status before God just-as-if-we-had-never-sinned. We are saved from the wrath of God through faith in Jesus. That incredible benefit is the product of God’s love toward us.
God’s own love reconciles us to Him (Romans 5:10a). We were enemies, literally actively hostile toward God. Yet He made a way for us to be reconciled and change from an enemy to an ally of God. This is freely offered to us by God’s grace; a gift. But such reconciliation doesn’t come cheap. It is the result of God in love sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us. This reconciliation is like a resurrection; like going from death to life in Christ.
God’s own love provides us a new way of life (Romans 5:10b). Verse ten ends, “. . . we shall be saved by His life.” God’s own love and its impact on us leads to a new way of life. Here we need to pause and consider our response to God’s own love. The apostle John is often referred to as The Apostle of love or The Apostle who Jesus loved (cf. John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20). John was inspired by God to write, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us"(1 John 4:7-12). The only appropriate response to God’s own love is to love like God loves. We are not saved by loving, but the evidence of spiritual life, maturity and power is God’s own working in and through us.
How can we love like that? On our own it is impossible. But Paul writes, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). The hope we have in God is reliable. God’s love is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who dwells in the believer. That’s incredible! By the power of the Spirit, we can love like God loves. We can love the weak and the ungodly. We can love in a way that is superior to the world’s brand of love. We can love even sinners and love sacrificially. We can love to the end. We can love in a way that brings reconciliation between enemies. We can love in action, in life. And all of that is reason to rejoice.
Fifth, God’s own love is reason to rejoice (Romans 5:11). The incredible benefits of God’s love give us reason to rejoice in Him. We should sing the Hallelujah chorus with every breath of new life in Christ we take. Because of God’s own love we can enter into a personal eternal saving relationship with God Almighty! For that we should rejoice.
That is a small picture of God’s own love. Remember, it’s always “much more” than we think it is. We could spend a lifetime studying God’s own love and still not fully comprehend it. That would not be a bad way to spend the rest of our existence; experiencing, enjoying and expounding on His own love.