Olsen Park Church of Christ

“When We Were Still Without Strength”

Introduction. This morning I would like us to consider together a powerful element of a beautiful text in Paul’s epistle to the Romans (Rom. 5:1-11).

I. Christ Died for Us When We Were “Without Strength” (Rom. 5:6).

A. Have you ever felt helpless? Perhaps you have experienced a…

·         Devastating situation

·         Harmed by sin another

·         Personal mistake

Illustration. In 2006, my wife and daughter and I had a wreck on the way to Florida. Five hours out of Amarillo, our vehicle was totaled, a ligament in my wife’s ankle was torn, and my daughter was bruised and sore. This was one of the times in my life I felt more helpless than any other.

B. Scripture is filled with people of God who have felt helpless.

·         David when Absalom sought to take his kingdom (Psa. 3:1-8).

·         Elijah when Jezebel sought to kill him (1 Kings 19:1-4, 8-10).

·         Mary and Martha when Lazarus died (John 11:17-21).

C. Paul is not talking about this kind of helplessness, but something much more devastating—the overwhelming burden of sin.

·         Sin makes us helpless —“without strength.”

The problem is most of the world doesn’t see this. They see sin like a…

·         Typographical error (like i before e).

·         Poor etiquette (salad or dinner fork).

1.      Paul says it makes us “enemies” (Rom. 5:10; 8:7-8; NASB & ESV “hostile.”

2.      James says the same (Jas. 4:4).

Illustration. Imagine in the middle of a war—perhaps on a field at Gettysburg July 1, 1863 I go rabbit hunting. I shoot into the woods at what I think is a rabbit and kill a soldier.Will anyone see this as an accident? No. Because a war is going on!

3.  Every soul of right mind, who comes to an accountable age at some point sins. Gal. 3:22 “the Scripture has confined all under sin.”

D. In helplessness Christ died for man. 

II. We Were Not Righteous, or Good, but Sinners (Rom. 5:7-8).

A.        “Righteous” here of probably speaks of moral innocence.

B.         “Good” here probably speaks of positive acts.

Part of the reason more people don’t obey the gospel is because it is easy for us to see ourselves in one of these categories. It is true that…

·    Children are innocent. “Of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). When the Israelites sinned by engaging in child sacrifice, they shed “blood of innocents” (Jer. 19:4).

·    The accountable are not innocent (Rom. 3:10-18).

Someone says, “I haven’t done bad things— I’m a good person!” That may have been what you thought, but you aimed at a rabbit, and hit a soldier in time of war! Now you are an enemy! Now you are helpless—what are you going to do about it?

III. Paul Speaks of a Time When They Were “Still” Without Strength (Rom. 5:6). That infers that his readers were no longer helpless.

A.        Paul could write “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Lit. “I am strengthened to all things through Christ who empowers me.” A relationship with Christ changes this helplessness.

·         In persecution (2 Tim. 4:16-17).

·         “Out of weakness were made strong” (Heb. 11:32-34).

B. What changes helplessness to strength? (Rom. 5:8-10).

·         When we are justified by His blood (5:9a). His blood can restore innocence.

·         When we are saved from wrath through Him (5:9b). Christ alone can change an enemy to a friend.

C. How did this happen for the Romans?

·         The same way it can happen for us—faith (Rom. 5:1)

·         Access to grace (Rom. 5:2).

·         Which comes when we are buried with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:3-7).

Kyle Pope 2012

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