I recently began reading the book of Romans in my personal Bible study. I’ve read this book several times before, and it is one that is frequently quoted in churches. As I began reading in Romans 5 this morning, the verse that stood out to me the most was one I’ve read hundreds of times, but never thought much about. It is left the singular unmarked verse in this section of my Bible. Romans 5:7 says:
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
When I read that verse, I stopped and asked myself the question: for whom would I be willing to die?
A couple of family members came to mind.
Then I wondered when would I be willing to die for them?
I thought- if I were in a situation where I could save one of these peoples’ lives but they could not save their own, I would be willing to die for them. maybe.
Finally, I asked myself: why would I be willing to do this?
I realized I wouldn’t be willing to die because of anything they have done, or how “good” they are. It would only be because of their relationship to me. I would do it because I love them. That is the only reason.
I know this seems like a bizarre thing to think about, but I bet if you thought through those questions, you would have the same answers I did. As I reflected on this it reminds me of why we celebrate Easter.
God sent His son to earth to save us when we couldn’t save ourselves. He came to save us not because we were good enough, but because we were incapable of saving ourselves and we are his children. He sent Jesus to die for us because He Loves us because of our relationship to him, not because of who we are.. Romans 5:8 makes this really clear:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For hundreds of years Jews tried to live according to the law in order to be found righteous enough to earn salvation. Throughout the Gospels Christ makes it clear that even the Pharisees, who were the most righteous of people, were not good enough. Paul tells us in Philippians 3 that even he, the most righteous of pharisees with the most holy of linage, was not capable of attaining righteousness through the law. I’ve recently been reading The Grace of God by Andy Stanley and he provides multiple examples of God’s Grace because of love not human righteousness throughout the Old Testament. One of the most notable examples of this is when Abram believed God’s promises and it was “credited to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
I find this incredibly freeing. I screw up a lot. I am far from perfect. I can see examples of how God continues to mold me and sand some of those bad areas out of me the deeper I go in my walk with him. But no sooner does one area get buffed to shine, than a new rough spot surfaces. I also know that these areas don’t get buffed by my own efforts, but through the Holy Spirit.
The knowledge that Christ died because he loved us, and set us free from the weight of trying to be good enough gives me freedom. I know because I have faith in Christ, manifested by the Spirit’s work in me, that I will spend eternity with Him. I have no need to worry about that. Christ’s death and resurrection paid for my sin, and because of my faith in Him, I have been made righteous.
What saddens me is that tomorrow all across America people who call themselves Christians will put on new clothes and go to church for Easter. Some only go twice a year, some are there multiple times a week. They’ll hear the message of the Gospel, and go home inspired to try harder to be good.
They will completely miss the point of Easter and the message of the Gospel.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing. Galatians 2:21
Jesus did not die so we could continue to try harder to be good enough. He died to bring us salvation. When we walk into church tomorrow, we need to be rejoicing the fact that the sacrifice has been made for all of us! Everyone on earth has an equal chance at salvation because of the work of Christ. We only need to have faith in Him and surrender our lives to Him. That’s the message of the Gospel and of Easter.
None of us is good enough. But God died for us anyway.
The link above to Andy Stanley’s The Grace of God is an Amazon affiliate link. This means if you buy it, I’ll make about a penny. However, I’m required to tell you anyway.