“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (KJV).
As we consider what the apostle presents in Romans 5, we might liken it to a status update found on a new believer’s profile: Being justified … have peace … this grace … rejoice in hope. He further traces, over the next few verses, how trials help hone a believer’s attitude and outlook toward an increasing appreciation of God’s outpouring love. Oh, to be more like this Paul!
But as we focus now on verse six, we understand this was not always the case for the apostle. He tells us this was not always his outlook or condition. In fact, he states with authority to his recipients that “we were yet without strength.” Paul, through inspiration, is giving us our condition as God sees it before salvation. Whether appreciated or not, this is the condition of all without Christ. We have no strength in ourselves, and no hope in others or in any other resources in this world to bring us into the security and certainty found in the opening verses. Apart from Christ, we are completely without strength. This is where Paul was, and it is where many are today. But we see good news in this verse too! It is the truth that led to Paul’s salvation and changed his condition.
In a short, scene-changing phrase, we are made aware of God’s calendar. God has a calendar and schedule of events that have been long planned and perfectly executed. Sin brought death to God’s creatures and a curse to man’s world, but it also set the stage for the promise of the Seed of the woman, the center of God’s eternal plan. Our calendars at times must be updated, modified or cancelled, and they are always tentative, because we know not what a day may bring forth. Yet God has a calendar that has been unfolding in perfect time and will never need to be reset. In just the right time on God’s calendar, and, ironically, when man’s ugly and ungodly condition was expressed so blatantly, Christ died for the ungodly. We are ungodly sinners, deserving death (the wages of sin), yet this is when and why Christ died. Instead of Calvary or the cross frustrating or obstructing God’s calendar, it proved His purposes are right on perfect schedule.
The last clause of this verse also relays the truth of Christ’s connection. Something happened on that cross about two thousand years ago. Something happened for sin and sinners of all ages and periods in time. Christ knows what He accomplished there, and it’s a wonder and a miracle of grace when a sinner gets some sense of it. At that moment, a connection is made with the Savior. A personal relationship begins with the Man who gave His life, was buried, and now lives in heaven, and an ungodly sinner finds their condition has changed, just like that of Paul’s. The same assurance and eternal security can be appreciated by all who rest in Jesus Christ alone.