Summary: Paul is emphasizing how each of us are unqualified and disqualified when it comes to the issue of salvation.
Spurgeon told a story about an artist in the years before photography who wanted to paint a picture of part of the city where he lived. For historic purposes, the artist wanted to include certain characters who were well known in the town.
There was one well-known street sweeper who was always dressed in rags and very filthy and he was known to everyone and the artist really wanted him in the picture. So, he found him and said that he would pay him whatever he wanted if he would come down to the studio and sit for part of this painting.
The street sweeper came to the studio the next day, but the artist sent him away, you see, he had washed his face, combed his hair, and put on a suit of clean clothes. The artist needed him to appear as he always did as a poor beggar. He wasn’t invited for his good looks.
Spurgeon said, “God invites sinners to come for salvation, just as you are. Come with all of your sin. Come to Jesus, who was crucified for sinners! If God justifies the ungodly and you’re ungodly, then there’s hope for you!” Or as Jesus said in Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
This is the same hope that’s talked about in Romans 5:6-11.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
I Paul begins in this passage by speaking about our weakness.
None of us like to be called weak because it conveys the idea that somehow, we’re less than we should be. Other synonyms for weak are frail, fragile, delicate and sickly; but in this passage and others like it, the word weakness relates to our spiritual condition. When any of us came to Jesus for salvation it was because we knew we were incapable of doing anything to save ourselves. If someone were to give a testimony about how good they were when they were saved, they’re really confessing they’re still lost.
Other scriptural versions use the phrase, "without strength" and this carries the idea of our being "powerless" and speaks of those who are "utterly helpless and have no means of escape." It conveys the idea of a lost sinner standing before God with absolutely no ability to do anything about his condition; because none of us with the ability, nor even the will to respond to God.
Our inherited sin nature has made us spiritually sick and left to ourselves we’d be lost for eternity. In other words, we were all born up a creek without a paddle and the worst part is, none of us even knew how bad our situation was. That’s why when we’re talking to an unbeliever and mention sin, they’ll say, “Oh, I know I’m not perfect but I’m not really all that bad if you compare me to others.” But listen, verse 6 tells us our sin has left us completely morally depleted. We were without strength to help ourselves.
The problem today is that sin has disappeared because we’ve legalized everything.
It’s so easy to get used to sin. It’s like when your first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand that they do x-rays. But when the second child swallows one you watch carefully to make sure the coin passes but when the third child swallows one, you simply deduct it from their allowance.
We live in a time when everything that was considered sinful by the previous generation is now considered a right. A person’s immorality is their right, drugs are not only legal in many places but they’re becoming a substantial boost for our tax system and a source of employment for hundreds of people. It’s not only your right to either have an abortion or commit suicide but in some hospitals doctors who refuse to help you can be barred from working there.
When I was saved back in the seventies almost every pastor would rail against the evils of alcohol and they would warn how it could destroy your testimony, your family and your health; but today, I’ve heard so many pastors say, “I don’t drink but this is something you have to decide for yourself.”