Christ Died for the Ungodly!
James Smith, 1860
"When we were yet without strength — Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6
This is a glorious portion of God's word. It is like a sunbeam on a cold winter's morning, sweet music at midnight, or a hot supper set before a starving traveler. It is the key that opens the dungeon door, the hammer that knocks the irons off the poor tempted saint, or the king's judicial writ to set the prisoner free. The apostle introduces it to prove, that the Christian who lives in hope of enjoying the glory of God, shall never be ashamed of his hope. Well may we hope for glory, if the Holy Spirit sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts, and we are assured that Christ died for us though ungodly, as ungodly.
If it had been said, "Christ died for the moral, the kind, or the deserving," then it would not suit me. But when I read that Jesus died for sinners, for the ungodly, then I can say that the gospel is good news indeed, it does bring glad tidings to my soul.
For whom did Jesus die? For the ungodly! For such as were . . .
estranged from God,
at war with God,
alienated from God,
whose hearts were enmity against God,
whose every thought of their hearts was evil — only evil, and that continually.
They were as powerless to do good — as they were strong to do evil; for they were without strength, that is, strength to do good. They had no strength to satisfy divine justice, to oppose it, or escape from it! They had no power to atone for past sins, or to keep the law in the future.
Being ungodly, they were without will to do good, or accept of mercy through a Savior. Being without strength, they were destitute of power, in any way, or by any means — to extricate themselves from the consequences of sin. How could they be in a worse case, destitute both of will and power — to escape from the wrath to come! This was just my case — which leads me to admire the infinite wisdom, sovereign grace, and wondrous mercy of God; in that "when we were yet without strength — Christ died for the ungodly!"
What did Jesus do? He died as a Substitute for the ungodly, that they may never die. Voluntarily he assumed their nature and took their place, that he might suffer, bleed, and die in their stead. He died as the one glorious Mediator, who came between God and man, that he might render to God his due, and procure for man salvation. He died for us — to change our STATE, so that instead of being condemned, we might be justified. He died for us — to change our CHARACTER, so that we might be made holy as God is holy. He died for us — to change our RELATION, that we may become the children of God, by faith in his blessed name. He died for us — to change our EMPLOYMENT, that henceforth we should not serve sin — but serve God, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. He died for us — to change our PROSPECTS, so that instead of looking for wrath and fiery indignation, we may look for glory, honor, and immortality.
In order to accomplish his purpose and carry out his plan — he made a full atonement for all our sins — he procured the holy and ever-blessed Spirit — he prepared the everlasting gospel — and he received gifts for men, to qualify them to be his instruments, in accomplishing his design. With all the fullness of the godhead dwelling in his person, being full of grace and truth, having power given him over all flesh, and having all things put under his feet, there can be no question — but he will see of the travail of his soul — and be satisfied. O wondrous mercy, that the son of God should become man; and became man, on purpose to become the sacrifice for our sins, the ransom price for our redemption, and the author of our eternal salvation!
My soul, here then is your comfort--Christ died for the ungodly! He died instead of you--died that you may never die. He died for you--not because there was any good in you, or the prospect of any good being done by you; but He died for you as an ungodly and wicked sinner! A sinner without God. A sinner against God.
Exercise confidence then in Jesus. Trust in his death. For surely if Jesus died for you, you shall never die. And with this, answer all the discouraging insinuations of Satan. If he points you to your sins, and tells you of their number, enormity and desert — then admit it all — but tell him Jesus died for them. If he leads you to dwell on the depravity of your heart, and the inconsistencies that appear in your life, do not attempt to extenuate them — but reply, "Christ died for the ungodly!"
In all times of temptation, in all seasons of depression, when your heart misgives you, or your spirits sink within you, make use of this blessed truth to comfort and cheer you, "Christ died for the ungodly!" When distant from beloved friends, when deprived of the ordinances of God's house, in the chamber of affliction, or on the bed of death — let this be your solace, your support, and the pillar of your hope, "Christ died for the ungodly!"