A. New relationships can elicit a variety of emotional responses.
B. Fear, excitement, uncertainty, dread, and depression can all result from new relationships.
C. For example: a young person who has attended the same school from kindergarten through middle school but whose Dad is transferred to a different location. The young person has to start high school in a new place and at a new school.
D. Other examples: those in the military, missionaries, preachers, job transfers.
I. Grace and Our Helpless Condition (v. 6)
A. Suggested conclusions about the state of our condition.
1. Tainted, depraved, unable, “total depravity,” “total inability,” and still good are all words, conditions or phrases that have been examined by believers and theologians to describe our position as humans as it relates to our need for salvation.
2. While our view of our spiritual condition should be constructed based on what the Bible teaches, often it is not.
3. One reason for this skewed opinion is abhorrence for what the Bible says about us.
4. Therefore, people look in other places to form an opinion about themselves.
5. They may do personal observation of their behavior and attitudes and reach the conclusion that while not perfect they are pretty good.
6. From observation, they may assume they are in control of their destiny and do not need to lean on a supernatural deity.
7. They may also read self help books or the works of positive thinkers and conclude all people will be “okay” in the end, so how they live is immaterial.
8. Thus the spectrum of self evaluation runs the gamut from really bad to not bad at all, from needing supernatural assistance to needing no help at all.
9. The Greek word here translated “helpless” is asthenes (ahs-tha-neighs’) and means weak, infirm or feeble.
10. A modern translation renders it “utterly helpless.”
B. Results of the suggested conclusions.
1. The results can be divided into several conclusions.
2. We are really bad and in need of divine assistance.
3. We are not bad and therefore need no divine help.
4. We are somewhat bad and need a little help but can also render some help ourselves.
C. What the Bible says about our condition.
1. Paul has already concluded all have sinned. (3:23)
2. He will conclude in the next chapter that the wages of this sin is death. (6:23)
3. From a believer’s viewpoint, it really should not matter what we think but what the Bible says.
4. If God’s view is what counts, then we should not only know but also accept what he says.
5. There is-and has been throughout church history, different opinions about how seriously sin has affected humanity.
6. As referenced above, the conclusions surround the question of whether we are helpless without divine help, not in need of divine help or whether the right conclusion about our spiritual condition lies somewhere in the middle.
7. While humans are certainly not as evil as they could be-God’s Spirit does exercise a preserving influence even on evil people, they are sinful as borne out by their actions. How anyone could conclude otherwise seems inconceivable.
8. Whether we are responsible for these actions or more specifically to a deity are further questions to consider.
9. The conclusion of the Bible seems perfectly clear to those who accept it-we are depraved, and we are responsible.
10. We are not as bad as we could be, but sin permeates us to the core. It is parcel and part of our entire nature.
11. Further, we are responsible to God because this sinful rebellion is against him and is an offense against his holy nature.
12. Since we are his creations, we are held accountable by God.
II. Grace and God’s Cure (vv. 6-8)
A. God’s cure was in Christ and at the right time. In what way was it the right time?
1. In another epistle, Paul refers to this as the “fullness of time” or the right time. (Galatians 4:4)
2. Jesus also acknowledged in Mark’s gospel that the time was right (Mark 1:15) for his appearance.
3. The Roman’s political contribution to history aided in making the time right. They provided a universal law that led to the unity of mankind. They brought peace (pax romana) which led to free movement within the Mediterranean world. They also developed an excellent system of roads. Their conquests led many to lose belief in their gods.
4. The Greeks also prepared the world for Christ’s arrival. Greek was the universal tongue of the ancient world. Greek philosophy also helped destroy people’s faith in the older religions.
5. And of course, the Jews had contributed mightily to Christ’s coming being the right time. In contrast to other world religions, they believed in one God. They also looked for a Messiah. Their ethical standards were extremely high. Most importantly perhaps was that they had preserved the Old Testament scriptures. They proposed history had meaning and was God’s story. Finally, they provided an institution for worship in the form of the synagogue.
6. Remember one purpose of the Law was to show people God’s standards as well as their inability to live up to them.
7. The years between the giving of the Law and the coming of Christ provided ample opportunities for people to realize their inadequacy.
8. And in whatever other ways that might have been involved, it was simply the right time in God’s plan.
B. The Cure was in Christ.
1. God’s plan of salvation involved timing but the timing involved sending his Son to take our place (substitutionary atonement).
2. We did not need just a good example, we needed someone to die for our sins and satisfy God’s wrath against us.
3. We are saved only because God took the initiative.
4. While phileo love gives itself for a brother, agape’ loves demonstrates love to those who do not return it or deserve it. It is also continuous and sacrificial.
5. The Greek word for “for” is hyper (oo pear’) and means in behalf of or for the sake of.
6. We have already mentioned that in the matter of atonement words such as sacrifice, example, ransom and propitiation are all involved.
C. Christ’s cure was uncommon and unbelievable.
1. Paul mentions how uncommon it is for someone to give their life for another.
2. According to him, this might take place if someone is especially good.
3. We can think of those who volunteer and are paid to rescue people in life threatening situations (fireman, police, and medical personnel). In some instances, they have to risk their lives in the rescue attempt. Additionally, those they rescue are good and evil. We might say some deserve rescuing while others do not.
4. Christ’s sacrifice was totally different in that all he died for were ungodly and beyond saving themselves. They had no strength to rectify their sad situations.
D. Christ’s cure was made while we were still sinners. (v. 8)
1. Remember Christ is referred to as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)
2. We also believe God’s decree to send Christ to provide salvation was made in order after the decree to permit man to fall into sin. Thus God saw all people from the beginning until the end as a group in sin whom he would send his Son to die for.
3. All those Christ died for were sinners. This gives great encouragement in those times when we feel uncertain of God’s love. Perhaps we have made a major mistake, bad decision or have committed what we believe is a horrendous sin. God still loves and extends forgiveness.
4. The Greek word for shows or commends is in the present tense and means God is always showing and proving his love to us.
5. While it would not surprise us that God would save those who are earnestly trying to live righteously, it is amazing that he would stoop to save those who want nothing to do with him and who are in a state of rebellion against him.
6. Christ did not die to make us lovable to God but to bring us close to him through salvation so we could in turn experience the peace that comes in knowing we have been placed in right standing with God.
E. Things involved in God giving up his Son for us.
1. Christ had to leave an eternal world for a corrupted physical world.
2. Christ had to undergo humiliation by taking on human flesh.
3. God had to watch as his Son lived his life with abuse and rejection and then finally watch him be crucified.
4. God predestined his Son to die for our sins.
5. God watched as his Son took our sins.
6. God temporarily turned his back on his Son as he took our sins.
7. God poured out his wrath on his Son who was innocent.
III. Grace And God’s Justification (vv. 9-11)
A. We are justified by the blood of Christ (v. 9).
1. We have already examined the matter of justification.
2. It is not that we are made holy by Christ’s sacrifice but rather the holiness of Christ is applied to our life so when God sees us he sees him as well.
3. Therefore, defining justification as “just as if I had never sinned” does not do full justice to the word.
B. We are protected from the wrath of God (v. 9).
1. This is another positive effect of Christ’s atonement and our acceptance of it.
2. Our justification is something that happens now while the wrath of God is reserved finally and completely for the final judgment.
3. We are saved now and will be saved in the future as well.
4. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
5. This same power that saves us is available daily through the abiding presence of God’s Spirit.
6. God’s Spirit teaches, guides, comforts and illuminates us. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power residing in us giving us power to live for him.
7. The power of the Spirit gives courage to face each day with its trials and tribulations.
C. We are made friends with God through Christ (v. 10).
1. This takes our relationship with God to an even higher level.
2. Jesus reminds us of this same truth when he says he no longer refers to us as servants-though we are that, but as friends. (John 15:15)
3. It is one thing to be made right with God but something entirely different to have a friend relationship with him.
4. Restored brings us to the idea of reconciliation.
5. Our peace with God has legal and relational concepts. Justification restores the right standing legally for our offense against God. Reconciliation removes the threat of God’s wrath and lets us enter a friend relationship with him. (Colossians 1:21-22)
6. The Greek word for reconciliation is katallasso (ka’ ta la’ sew) and means to change, exchange, and to return to favor with. Two people who had something between them now have that obstacle removed.
7. The great exchange is that God accepts what Christ did instead of what we did (rebelled against him).
8. Through reconciliation, the hostility is removed and unity is restored. God made the first move toward us in the cross, and we accept by faith what he has done for us. (II Corinthians 5:19-20)
9. His life in us assures we will be delivered from eternal punishment. He lives to make intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25)
10. In Galatians, Paul proposes he has been crucified with Christ so he does not now live but Christ lives in and through him. (2:20)
D. Joy is the result of receiving what Christ has done for us (v. 11)
1. We no longer have to fear the wrath of God and can thus live in peace.
2. Anytime we have peace, there will be joy.
3. We rejoice over what God has done for us and in us and over what he wants to do through us.
A. Be thankful God did not wait until you got “good” to intervene in your situation.
B. Rejoice that in Christ the enmity between you and God has been removed.