But Romans 6 brings out (in contrast), God's opinion of us. Actually, God's opinion of us is displayed in rather clearly in chapters 1--3, where condemnation to all men is laid out clearly as the just reward for what we have done. But Romans 6 takes us deeper into that, showing us that God's opinion of us is very poor indeed. Perhaps the conclusion of this lesson is in Romans 7 "For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:19--21, 24, NASB).
So on the one hand, God loves us immeasurably; on the other, His opinion of us is extremely low. God's opinion of us is so bad, that He actually puts us to death to free us from sin's power: that's Romans 6. But His love for us is so great, that He actually gave His Son to be put to death to free us from the sin's penalty: that's Romans 5.
So we have something of a paradox: God loves us, but holds no illusions about us. I have stated in the assembly that God's love is irrational. That is, it is love that has no explanation. God loves us because of who He is, rather than because of any value He sees in us. God loves for no reason.
There are two very reassuring consequences of this paradox:
- You can't possibly make God love you more: but you can't possibly make Him love you less either. God can't love you any more than He does. He just can't. But because His love is without reason---because His love is based in the Person He is, rather than the worth of those He loves---He will never love you less. We might say: God can't love you more, and He refuses to love you less.
- You can't change God's opinion of you. You can't make it better, because He sees right through you: He's already evaluated you, and His conclusions weren't flattering. On the other hand, you can never surprise Him. He knows you better than you know yourself, and no matter how badly you fail, you won't shock Him. He already knows exactly how bad you are: in fact, you don't know yourself nearly as well as God knows you. Sometimes we're so bad we surprise even ourselves, but we never surprise Him. If He didn't already know you were a lost cause, He wouldn't have given His Son to die for you.
This is precisely where our confidence with God starts. We can be confident in Him, because "while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6, NASB). The same God who thought it was a good idea to save worthless sinners is the God who loves us now.